The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

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"I'm gonna crush you like a spider. Caught in an electricity net. In winter."
“I’m gonna crush you like a spider. Caught in an electricity net. In winter.”

Twitter Plot Summary: Peter Parker returns as The Amazing Spider-Man to tackle Electro, Rhino and The Green Goblin and… his relationship woes.

Five Point Summary:

1. Quipping Spider-Man. Now that’s more like it.
2. Times Square electricity. Stuff.
3. Romance angle – getting a bit OTT now.
4. That was a bit anti-climactic.
5. Franchise building.

Rebooting the Spider-Man franchise just a few years after the relatively dire Spider-Man 3, which suffered from “Too Many Villains” syndrome, seemed like a good idea at the time. And in fairness the reboot starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone wasn’t too bad at all. Ignoring some slightly iffy special effects and the fact it left a lot of plot threads hanging, it did its job well and gave Spidey a bit more of an attitude in line with Marvel’s own Ultimate line of comics. Whilst it never came close to reaching the apex set by Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, it did at least establish a believable relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy which always felt strangely absent between Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.

ASM2 does at least provide a few decent twists to our expectations – Norman Osborn isn’t in the position we would expect, and the plot does a few things out of the ordinary in a mostly successful bid to keep us on our toes. The trailers have not done ASM2 any favours, billing it as a big whizz-bang display of action set pieces. As it happens it’s not an action extravaganza, instead it’s primarily about the relationship between Peter and Gwen which is under strain following the promise Peter makes to Gwen’s father at the end of the first film. This takes up the majority of the narrative and may leave a few unsuspecting audience members cold.

The attempts at franchise building are clear from the off, and whilst the presence of Rhino, Electro and the Green Goblin may seem like an overcrowded lineup on face value, it’s not too bad on the whole. Rhino barely gets any time and is only here seemingly to set up the Sinister Six movie that Sony want to put out in the near future. The appearance of the Green Goblin, too, feels a little arbitrary and could have easily been saved for a third movie. Have the characters moving into position and being directly referenced, by all means, but that doesn’t mean we need them clogging up the narrative.

On top of all this, Electro gets the short end of the stick despite being the core villain. His origin is actually quite good – the man nobody recognises finds his face plastered all over the screens in Times Square in perhaps the film’s best set piece, morphing from Spidey fan to Spidey nemesis through a rushed but entirely plausible transformation. Their final showdown feels very much like the incident with The Lizard in the first film, rushed and a little anti-climactic. Given that ASM2 runs for more than 2 hours, it’s odd that this could feel rushed, but then when your story is divided between emotional drama and superhero action, something has to give.

Spidey had a sideline career in the fire service.
Spidey had a sideline career in the fire service.

More scenes featuring Harry Osborn would’ve gone down a treat as Dane DeHaan is a commanding screen presence. His scenes with Andrew Garfield are electric (ahem) and each acts as an opposing mirror to the other. That’s nothing of course when compared to the onscreen relationship between Garfield and Stone – they have a chemistry that just works, and even when compared to the first film it’s in a league of its own.

Still, at least the wisecracking, quipping Spider-Man is here, which is most definitely a good thing. It sets Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man clearly apart from the Spidey’s of the past, and adds laugh out loud/mildly chucklesome moments between the drama and bursts of action. It’s still far from perfect, but progress has been made since the 2012 reboot, and with any luck that will continue into the next one.

Is there an Alan Rickman plummet?: Yes

Score: 3.5/5

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