Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Or Too Many Villains Spoil The Angst

April 26, 2014



The Amazing Spider-Man 2 / Directed by Marc Webb / PG13

Seeing as technology and cinematic wizardry drive a more than significant proportion of films these days, its not surprising that re-boots of series come along as regularly as new cellphones. New cellphones are difficult for me, since I hardly have managed to master the basic facilities when an all new one is thrust into my hands.  In the same way I find myself still mulling over the success or otherwise of a film when its sequel is suddenly up there on the screen.

I’m still not a hundred-per-cent sure of The Amazing Spider-Man (that’s another review….), and now we have its sequel in which Spidey gets to battle an array of villains – too many, in fact, for the film to sustain without it becoming perfunctory.   The new villain-of-the-month-club offering is Electro – Jamie Foxx with pale blue make-up which occasionally and disconcertingly makes him look like a Michael Jackson impersonator.    Jamie starts out as a mild-mannered electrical technician, but after some extreme Electro-Convulsive Shock Therapy involving electric eels and more, goes over the edge.  It’s a bit OTT for someone who is simply suffering from what seems to be a very mild form of social disassociation, but this Spider-Man movie goes large on everything.

Then there is the re-boot of Green Goblin ( Dane DeHaan) and Paul Giamatti pops up briefly as The Rhino.   DeHaan did some very good work in Kill Your Darlings, and he reprises his angsty, testy thing but this time without the charm, and his “Look Ma, I’m Dying” routine doesn’t have quite the impact it should.  Paul Giamatti is just plain under-utilised : he goes all bug-eyed on us and shouts (in 3-D it looks plain silly) and that’s a pity because Giamatti is a very capable actor and has been careful and selective of late in terms of his movies.  Why shouldn’t he have a bit of fun even though the fun is all his and not shared by the audience?

All the action sequences are well thought out and effective and often thrilling: Multiple cameras!  Superfast zooms!  Daring use of locations!   It’s just like being on a ride at a theme park!   Hey, wait a minute, is that why they … oh.

I really can’t make my mind up about Andrew Garfield’s interpretation of Peter Parker.  When he’s doing the Spidey thing he’s just fine, and in real persona mode he has many charms, yet in conveying the twitchy teenage neuroses he comes awfully close to being Spider-Man as Woody Allen minus a few laughs.  He does sport a poster for Antonioni’s Blow Up on the wall of his room which obviously gives him some intellectual heft, and I think Woody would approve.

Garfield is at his best when he interacts with Emma Stone, reprising Gwen again (begin again?). There are some effective sparks between them and Garfield has the chops when it comes to timing dialogue. With the lickety-split plot developments no-one really has time for any significant subtexting, least of all Garfield, and it’s his character that’s attenuated, not just his physical appearance. Appropriate padding helps beef up the lycra costume, but the last thing this film needs is anything extra – its way too long and more than a bit repetitive at 140 odd minutes.

There is a good amount to admire in this addition to the Marvel Empire, but I wish I could find as much to actually like.