"The Amazing Spider-Man 2"
Release Date: May 2, 2014
Running Time: 142 minutes
If The Amazing Spider-Man felt like an exercise in redundancy, with its slavish devotion to retelling the Webslinger’s origin, its sequel at the very least justifies the decision to reboot the franchise so soon after director Sam Raimi completed his trilogy. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 sees this new franchise come into its own as a result of the subplot director Marc Webb introduced in its predecessor that linked Peter Peter’s (Andrew Garfield) transformation into a superhero to the death of his parents and the nefarious goings on at Norman Osborn’s Oscorp Industries. Everything that occurs in The Amazing Spider-Man 2—from Peter’s efforts to reconcile his feelings for on-again, off-again girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) to his reunion with old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) to his showdowns with Electro, the Green Goblin and the Rhino—is informed by the work and death of Peter’s father Richard, an Oscorp Industries scientist who specialized in animal-human hybrid genetics. It’s this new spin on Spider-Man’s origin, driven by an overwhelming desire to create a new mythology, which distinguishes Webb and Raimi’s franchises. Still, there’s this troubling sense about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that it unfolds mostly in service of Sony’s plans to create its own Marvel Cinematic Universe around the superhero and his archenemies. Yes, there is a tragic moment in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that will forever change the way Peter views the responsibilities that comes being a superhero. Yet this feels overshadowed by the need to lay the foundation for the upcoming Sinister Six spin-off. It all begins with the creation of Electro, who is played without a hint of menace by Jamie Foxx. Foxx’s Max Dillon is an Oscorp Industries electrical engineer who becomes a living electrical generator following a freak accident. Webb and his screenwriters try to make Electro a sympathetic villain à la The Amazing Spider-Man’s the Lizard, but it doesn’t work. Peter doesn’t have a prior relationship with Dillon—Peter did have one with the Lizard’s alter ego Dr. Curt Connors—and Dillon comes across as a whiny nobody who wants to inflict pain on millions for no other reason than he want New Yorkers to remember his name. Boohoo. Foxx fishes for laughs as he mumbles and stumbles through his scenes as Dillon. As he’s more concerned with being comic relief, Foxx fails miserably to make us care about an invisible man who continues to work for a company that happily steals his ideas. When he transforms into the glowing blue Electro, he comes across as a Dr. Manhattan cosplayer who’s ticked off because people are more interested in the guy dressed as Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also introduces Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, the son of dying Oscorp Industries founder Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper). Webb and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci make some intriguing tweaks to the relationship between Peter and Harry, which indirectly leads to Harry’s hatred of Spider-Man. However, Webb, Kurtzman and Orci rush Harry’s transformation into the Green Goblin, and his first and only confrontation with Spider-Man feels hopelessly forced despite an outcome that will impact future sequels. Regardless, DeHaan is a threatening presence and a welcome addition to a franchise that has yet to determine how best to use its villains beyond their ties to Oscorp. As for the Oscorp-outfitted Rhino, who’s played with roid-raging fury by an unintentionally hilarious Paul Giamatti, he’s worked in purely to tease The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and/or Sinister Six, and that’s fine. Webb shows more confidence in staging the showdowns between Spider-Man and his enemies, but there isn’t one standout moment in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that rivals anything that Raimi staged before him. Webb, though, is much more comfortable in developing Peter’s relationships with Gwen Stacy and Aunt May (Sally Field). These moments the conflicted teen shares with the women in his life are honest, meaningful, and moving. It’s little wonder that Webb spends more time examining Peter’s concerns about potentially placing Gwen and Aunt May in harm’s way and Aunt May. Garfield fights admirably with Peter’s demons. By the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, when Peter’s world seems to have crumbled around him, Garfield poignantly conveys the emotional turmoil that grips a superhero who is still on the cusp of adulthood. The Peter Parker of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will not be the same Peter Parker of The Amazing Spider-Man 3. We know this for certain. The question, though, is whether Webb and the screenwriters of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 recognize and address the problems with the first two films in their franchise. Unless this happens, this franchise will never rise to the level of Raimi’s trilogy.
Aired: May 1, 2014
Web site: http://www.theamazingspiderman.com/