Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
There was a mixed response when it was announced that Sony Pictures was to reboot its Spider-Man franchise, especially since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 had only been released 5 years earlier. The all-too well-named Marc Webb, enjoying the attention from 500 Days of Summer, was hired to direct The Amazing Spider-Man. The new Spidey outing served as an altogether decent reboot, but one that failed to ignite much-needed spark and originality to warrant the rehash. Webb is back with the web-slinging character’s second chapter; a robust, dramatic and entertaining sequel that not only swings high above its predecessor, but lands firmly a step above the many superhero films of late.
Much has been publicised about Sony’s plan to expand their Spider-Man universe; from the get-go, it’s clear that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the film to do just that. Once you’ve seen the film’s energetic opening, a dramatic plane sequence featuring none other than Peter Parker’s parents, you know that you’re about to learn much more about this arachnid superhero than has previously been explored in cinema. If there’s one thing that raises this film above many others of its kind, it’s the film’s clear focus on character and backstory.
Andrew Garfield (in fine-form) returns as the titular hero, aka Peter Parker. He is still in a relationship with Gwen Stacy, played by the always-lovely Emma Stone, but their relationship remains on rocky foundations after the events of the first film. Stacy’s late father had asked Peter to ensure that his daughter would not be in Spider-Man’s life, a request that Parker has failed to honour, much to his guilt. This relationship is the core of the film, with Garfield and Stone’s charisma levels at a crowd-pleasing high.
Complimenting our two leads is an array of great performances from the film’s solid cast. Villains are key characters in any picture, but they are pivotal in comic-book films. While we are introduced to a few of the villains in Spidey’s world, there are two that are proudly pushed to the forefront: Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon, aka Electro, and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborne, aka Green Goblin. Their backstories may border on the overfamiliar, but they are nevertheless convincingly portrayed and presented. Foxx shines, quite literally, as Electro. He’s a pathetic creation, a man desperate to be noticed and wanted. DeHaan has played the malice-filled young man on-screen many times before, and he delivers yet another memorable and troubled character.
The ins and outs of the plot, and the film’s various subplots, are best left untold; not that Sony’s marketing seems to mind. Suffice it to say that the film’s many stories progress nicely and smoothly, even if certain strands tend to bloat the overall narrative structure.
Peter Parker is at his most vulnerable here, a young hero tired of an often-ungrateful New York, while dealing with the mystery of why his parents abandoned him. Add to that an on-again, off-again relationship with Stacy, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a layered hero. The fact that he still manages to throw out quips while fighting crime is impressive. Director Marc Webb and his two leads seem much more at ease this time round, a confidence seemingly brought on by a muscular screenplay from the film’s three screenwriters: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 impressively juggles the film’s various tones, faltering only slightly when transitioning between personal dilemmas and villainous grandeur.
The visual effects are spectacular, intuitively using the 3D to have you feel as though you’re flying through the air alongside our hero. The action is big, loud and over the top, but it’s oh-so-brilliantly executed. Also worthy of a mention is the film’s score. Hans Zimmer, replacing James Horner, has joined forces with the Magnificent Six — Pharrell Williams, Johnny Marr, Incubus’ Mike Einziger, Junkie XL, Steve Mazzaro and Andrew Kawczynski — to create a spirited score to accompany the lively visuals.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 manages to bring home a more personal Spidey story, while ensuring that audiences receive all the razzle-dazzle that they demand. There’s no doubt that Marc Webb’s second Spider-Man film is bigger, a franchise sparker sure to entice audiences with hints of a bigger universe at every turn, but there’s also more care and heart this time round. A downright important chapter in Peter Parker’s life told with flair and energy by Webb and his team, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 may very well be Spider-Man’s best cinematic outing to date.
THE REEL SCORE: 9/10