Frances Winston reviews the latest in the Spiderman franchise for EILE
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Stan Lee, Dane DeHaan
The reboot of the Spiderman franchise continues apace with this sequel to 2012’s The Amazing Spider Man. Unlikely heart-throb Andrew Garfield is back as the nerdy teenage webslinger who struggles to use his powers responsibly while also trying to live like a normal kid his age.
Opening with a flashback sequence which shows how Peter Parker’s parents were killed, we are soon greeted by Spidey doing what he does best – namely taking down the bad guys, in this case Aleksei Sytsevich (Giamatti). In saving the city, Spiderman also rescues an Oscorp worker named Max (Foxx) who is thrilled to meet his hero.
However, his heroics mean he almost misses his graduation, at which his girlfriend Gwen Stacey (Stone) is valedictorian. Realising that his double life puts her in danger, he ends their relationship just as his childhood friend Harry Osborn comes back into his life. Harry’s father has just died, making him the new head of Oscorp Industries, much to the board’s chagrin. When Max has an accident on the premises falling into a tank of electric eels, the board uses this as an excuse to get rid of Harry.
He has bigger troubles though, having realised that he is developing the same symptoms of genetic illness that killed his father. Making a deal with Max – who is now calling himself Electro – he manages to get back onto Oscorp premises, where he injects himself with a bio-weapon which, rather than curing him, turns him into a grotesque goblin-like creature. Meanwhile, Gwen has been offered a place at college in London and is about to leave forever, but Peter wants her back. However, with Electro running rampage, he may have to choose between love and his self-appointed duty to the city.
If it sounds like there is a lot going on, that’s because there is. Although we know that there will be at least two more sequels, producers have thrown everything including the kitchen sink at this. Although Electro has been promoted as the movie’s baddie, we also meet the Green Goblin and The Rhino, which makes it feel a bit crowded at times. There is a multitude of characters, and so much going on that if you blink you will miss it.
However, this instalment has much more emotional depth than the last offering, and you will genuinely feel for Peter Parker in a couple of places. Since Stone and Garfield are a real life couple, it is unsurprising that they have a great chemistry, and both have settled into their roles this time round. However Oscar-winner Foxx is somewhat disappointing as Max/Electro, and you never really understand why he goes from being Spiderman’s biggest fan to considering him a mortal enemy, other than perhaps he felt ignored! Meanwhile Giamatti completely hams it up and fails to bring any depth to Sytsevich/Rhino (and what is with the accent!)
There are lots of complex plot points as Peter tries to get to the bottom of his parents death, and Harry tries to fathom what his father’s legacy is. Both of these issues become very bogged down at times. However, Webb’s masterful directing manages to drag it out of these slumps. The action sequences are full-on high-octane, and Hans Zimmer’s wonderful soundtrack serves to elevate the overall proceedings. There is plenty of snappy editing that at times is a bit too chaotic, but the CGI is hugely impressive and helps to distract from this.
On the whole, this is an overcrowded but fun couple of hours that will enthral and entertain, while also leaving you scratching your head. There is plenty of pathos alongside the action, and Webb is definitely taking this franchise in a good direction. This works as a standalone movie if you haven’t seen the first one, but it leaves plenty of unresolved character arcs, and hopefully in future instalments they will pare back the multiple story threads and bad guys so as not to dilute their impact.
In cinemas now!