“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (directed by Marc Webb) follows from its predecessor of the same name, re-launching the Marvel Spider-Man franchise in 2012. The events, which transpire from Peter Parker’s (played by Andrew Garfield) quest to avenge his Uncle’s murderer and gain knowledge of the purpose of his late scientific parents research sees him later acquire extraordinary strength and ability after being bitten by a spider during a field trip at the scientific research facility, Oscorp. But with all things in life, when one bears a great amount of power, the burden they place on others is forever in free-fall along with the promise to protect those from the villains plotting to destroy New York city and everything within it. Following Parker’s close on-screen romance with teenage sweet-heart Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), Peter Parker realises his alter-ego as Spider-Man must not come before those he has sworn to protect, which, in many films of the genre, can produce lethal fatalities.
And so forth, Peter Parker rises from the ashes in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” to fulfil his new found purpose and motivation in New York as the cities beloved role figure; the ‘anti-vigilante’ sworn to protect those in disaster, crime or trouble, no matter how big or small.
“The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of
The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ (2014)
To start off, the movie itself runs for a whole length-time of 142 minutes (2 hrs, 22 minutes) that, not surprisingly, fits in action, set pieces, major special effects, creative cinematography, plot shifts, plot ‘holes’, betrayal, love, romance, and, not forgetting, Spider-Man alongside his on-slew of villains to follow thereafter. In some cases, as regards to the action in the movie,
I was taken aback at how little, or at-least how well real life stunts, environments and computer generated imagery (CGI) are all combined to make for scenes which look spectacular on the silver screen. Since growing up on Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007), it is testament to how far movie technologies have come today – even the slightest subtleties in a scene are not usually real living and breathing things.Take a look at this video to understand my points:
However, with those points mentioned above, it goes without saying the special effects are reminiscent of other movies in the superhero and action blockbuster genre. Marc Webb’s inspiration from Michael Bay’s CGI style in Transformers (2007 – present) is clearly evident, and boasts a colourful film palette which, although impressive and convincing, can appear lacklustre, perhaps too’ anime’ and even resemblant of video game graphics on occasions.
The villain trio battling in unison against Spider-Man – but does it actually happen in the movie itself?
Fans will argue this promotion,as well as many quotes from trailers not present in the film, do not necessarily depict the films content accurately to paying audiences.
As far as the characters are concerned, Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy’s chemistry and on-screen romance is glimmering and shines off both of them and on to the audience. As well a being a real life off-screen couple, Director Marc Webb took advantage of this element in the films storytelling to execute an impressive number of scenes involved in the Spider-Man/Peter Parker/girlfriend ‘sworn to protect and avoid conflict’ dynamic. The villains in the film, which implies of course more than one, include Electro (Jamie Foxx), The Green Goblin (Dane Dehaan) and Rhino (Paul Giamatti). At first impression, this rings bells of the last of Sam Raimi’s efforts with“Spider-Man” 3 (2007), which was considered a major flop as a result of it’s lack of focus, directing and amount of villains.
However, the current sequel, without going in to too much detail – the trio of villains, while NOT fighting in unison against Spider-Man (see image above), are to a degree evenly distributed throughout the film unlike Spider-Man 3’s efforts, in order to provide for convincing and equalising sub-plots, on the exception, however, of Rhino, which I will not elaborate further to avoid any spoilers. The film itself throughout stays true to the origins of Spider-Man and his universe in the original Marvel comics, delving in Spider-Man’s humoristic side while catching the criminals; something which on several occasions Director Sam Raimi evidently missed out on Tobey Maguire’s lead performance whilst creating the original Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007). For someone who has little to no directing experience, Marc Webb has done a fantastic job with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”.
Furthermore, the new franchise, in my humble opinion, has developed a sense of rich narrative continuity in terms of their consistency in line with the original Comics by Stan Lee and the Marvel Universe, potentially opening doors for spin-off movies released on the arc of the “Amazing Spider-Man” franchise. Examples of the consistency with the comics includes the steady but gradual shift in design of the Spider-Man suit, the web shooters being made by Peter Parker (and not conceived through the bite of the spider), Gwen Stacy being Peter Parker’s first love in his life before Mary Jane (something Raimi made a large mistake of, but perhaps, with intention), and understanding what I label is important to fans and casual viewers of the series – the ‘Oscorp origins’; and its significance it plays in both Peter Parker and his parents lives before him. All these points, which have been executed to a leaning moderate to impressive degree in the current franchise, appear to lack severely when compared to the original Sam Raimi trilogy.
So, in light of these previous errors considered on behalf of the former franchise, what the Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) does so well is avoid (on the most part, but not entirely) the lack of even distribution of screen time in terms of directing the ‘bombastic’ events of the unfolding story which carry the film forward in several layered narrative tiers, or strands, shall we say. This is reinforced, in terms of the multiple on-screen villains and how their screen-time is proportionately handled, something which Marc Webb arguably pulls off with flair.
The central villain of the film, Electro (Jamie Foxx), formerly the ‘geeky nobody’ Max Dillon is a gripping character; but only when transformed in to his alter-ego where Foxx raises the calibre of his performance to a menacing, hell bent and destructive profile. Prior to his transformation, Max Dillon presents an unconvincing, weak back-story to his villainous nature. When compared to Raimi’s villains, as an example, Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2 (2004), Electro appears weak and vulnerable in contrast as a villain.
The Green Goblin, played by Dane Dehaan is a truly scary character from the get-go towards the latter part of the movie, fusing together characteristics of a psychotic and sinister Harry Osborn as a result of tragic and grave circumstances. Osborn’s regular persona left me feeling the performance by Dane Dehaan was a bit exaggerated, but was certainly a far cry from James Franco’s role as the naive, lacking purpose and ‘hyper’ preserved individual. A negative to be noted from Harry Osborn’s character, and possibly a major plot-hole in this movie’s attempt compared to Raimi’s editions is the lack of substance and knowledge as to who and what Harry Osborn has been doing prior to seeing his old acquaintance Peter Parker again. But, in support of this, Marc Webb, although providing plenty of gripping lines and scenes, leaves a question mark over many parts of the plot, perhaps in doing so to extend the franchises longevity over the years to come. For casual viewers of this film, not every scene is as easy to grasp and relate to as Raimi’s trilogy.
The reason being – Hollywood clichés are clearly not present and is obvious from the start. As a result of this, I believe the comic stories were adapted and translated on to the screen far more effectively than Raimi’s versions. In fact, the typical Hollywood production, although a staple feature of many early 2000’s superhero movies, only served to distract from the main plot and focus of its roots – a comic book. That said, what the Amazing Spider-Man 2 lacks in ‘standardised’ Hollywood production, it certainly makes up for in (depending on your viewpoint) ‘one-liners’ and what many may regard as ‘cringe-worthy’ encounters which audiences may bite their nails over.Again, without saying too much, a friend (who prefers the original franchise) raised an interesting point to me which were the collaborative scenes between Electro and Harry Osborn striking familiar roles of acting comparable to the ‘unique’ (not in a good way) Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin (1997) movie. It may also be worth noting that Electro’s portrayal in the film is loosely based off of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dr. Freeze, one of Batman’s villains in Gotham City. Paul Giamatti, who plays Rhino,is revealed in an armoured battle-suit who performs both in and out of it at both ends of the movies duration. Although only touched upon in brief sequences, Marc Webb has teased fans and audiences as to what will be to come in the future of the franchise, as well as other potential villains.
The villain trio: Green Goblin (above right), Rhino (below right), and Electro (bottom)
Verdict – 8/10 Webb’s interpretation of Spider-Man, while not a complete cohesive film, delivers more to audiences in contrast to the original Spider-Man franchise. Rather, it is an entertaining and gripping 142 minutes which keeps you highly engrossed in the advanced special effects, characters and plot. Despite screen time for each of the villains taking a suffering on occasions, the multi- narrative sets up the franchise much better for future Spider-Man sequels and Marvel spin-off than Raimi’s original trilogy (2002-2007) including the “Sinister Six” and the anticipated origins picture of Venom, the symbiotic villain.