The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Directed by Marc Webb. With Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field and Jamie Foxx.
Spider-Meh, Spider-Meh, does whatever… That alone would be a fitting review of the first two not-amazing films of this unimaginatively rebooted franchise. I use the word franchise instead of series, because that feels like where we are with Spider-Man now. Somehow, amid the scramble for superhero superiority, he’s been left behind by those pesky Avengers, Dark Knights, hell…even Superman seems more popular nowadays. Sadly, this colourful, functional sequel by Marc Webb doesn’t do enough new or interesting to make it resonate beyond the time you spend in its company.
There was a time when functional seemed enough. The first Marvel phase was an array of 3-star offerings, clearly designed to set the playing field, as opposed to doing much exciting on it. However, the second wave has started to gain traction, developing interesting strands and character relationships across a variety of films, presenting the backdrop of an impressive universe. Left out of all this, Spider-Man now feels like the kid who didn’t get picked to play for the school team.
On a positive note, Andrew Garfield is still a good fit in the Spidey spandex. Furthermore, he’s complimented by Emma Stone (Gwen Stacey), a warm, funny actress with a disarmingly natural presence. Their screen-time together is perhaps the most engaging thing about the whole two-and-a-bit hours.
Disappointingly, and through no fault of the actors involved, the villains don’t fare half as well. Once again, we’re given a Green Goblin sub-plot that treads the same old ground of the recent Sam Raimi films. On top of that, we have Jamie Foxx as Electro, a baddie who feeds off of, and can channel electricity to the detriment of New Yorker’s. The Electro plot line is particularly lazy and one-dimensional, revealing a character whose presence in the story has more to do with set-pieces and digital fireworks than any storytelling imperative.
When it does swing into action, the sequences are fine, if not slightly repetitive. But then, repetition is what has dogged these rebooted films so badly. There’s so much recycled familiarity, yet somehow, no-one seems interested in doing anything to break the cycle. Halfway through, I was wishing Garfield and Stone had a better film constructed around them, but somehow, even in a time of the superhero boom, Spider-Man seems surplus to requirements. 3/5