Friday, 11 April 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2:
Electro Boogaloo

It seems important these days to preface any discussion of a given film by outlining your feelings about that film's prequels or previous incarnations (in various media), just so that people know whether you're on their wavelength or talking out of your shitpipe. So, for the record, here are my qualifications for having an opinion on The Amazing Spider-Man 2; you can decide for yourself whether what I'm about to say in the rest of this post is likely to reflect your own views or make you want to kick me in the dick.
And so it was with the taste of two-year-old dog shit lingering in my mouth that I approached The Amazing Spider-Man 2, still cross about the premature rebooting of Spidey's barely-cold corpse and even crosser about what a colossal waste of time it was reliving his origin story for one hour and watching him piss about with an abysmal CG lizard man for another. Fortunately the great thing about superhero Part Twos is that with the origin story out of the way, we can crack on with superpowered angst, human relationship drama, villains afforded a decent amount of time and all that stuff that gets added to Part One as an afterthought, and in this case it's doubly good news that Part One is over because it was so skin-flayingly awful.

It also means that without the bits that made me want to chuck stuff at the screen last time, I can now appreciate what Marc Webb's version of Spidey does so much better than Sam Raimi's, and those things are plentiful. Most obvious is ol' Webhead himself, who, after years of clunky CG, finally convinces as he lobs himself through the canyons of New York, and who is also the wisecracking chucklemonkey from the comics - something Tobey Maguire never quite pulled off. Andrew Garfield is brilliant here, selling the comedy and the emotional stuff so well that you barely notice that the middle of the film is almost entirely Spider-Manless. The question still remains, though: how does he fit all that hair into Spidey's mask? Turns out, as these exclusive stills show, they use CGI to digitally shrink his head in post-production.
Sally Field's Aunt May and Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy are also in a different league to their preboot counterparts (for the sake of argument, Stone's counterpart is Kirsten Dunst), not least because you don't want a bad guy to pull all their limbs off one by one because they're so hair-tearingly annoying. In fact two scenes, one with each of them simply sharing well-written dialogue with Garfield, caused me to get something in my eye. It was popcorn, because well-acted, well-written dialogue scenes really exacerbate my hand-to-mouth co-ordination disorder.

Main villain duties fall to Jamie Foxx's Electro, although for a main villain he too is largely absent from the film's mid-section. His character has the pathos with which Stan Lee liked to imbue many of his bad guys, and his first face-off with Spider-Man is well-handled: the Electrovision is a cool touch, sparingly used, and Hans Zimmer and Pharell have given him a bonkers theme song that sounds like Eminem having a row with Daft Punk in the cellar of a lunatic. Unfortunately he's got the world's dullest supervillain costume (except for his magically self-repairing electropants), a million miles from the lightning-masked loon of the comics, but what he lacks in style he makes up for in mentalism: his bedroom is eerily reminiscent of that of Jed Maxwell, Alan Partridge's unhinged stalker.
Once again, I find myself asking of a supervillain: how does he wank?

Dane Dehaan, who still hasn't grown into his ludicrously deep voice, borrows Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man 3-era emo haircut to play Harry Osborn, with mixed results. It's hard to buy him and Peter as BFFs, and he's too sinister not to turn psycho, but the Parker / Osborn mythology is given an interesting new twist to prevent another retread of the Raimiverse. When the inevitable Goblinisation rolls round, you'll have to decide for yourself whether it's a terrific addition to the supervillain canon or if it is, in fact, just a little bit too silly.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is far from perfect (it isn't even amazing); like every modern superhero film it's too long, it doesn't really add anything useful to a bloated genre and it wastes a fun hero/villain dynamic at the expense of a subplot that sits apart from the rest of the film. But it's very funny, boasts a handful of excellent scenes and performances, and delivers some first class comic book action. It's not quite the Iron Man 3 to its prequel's Iron Man 2, but it's enough of an improvement to re-pique my interest in the franchise, and frankly I imagine that was its only goal.


  1. yeah, but you thought Star Trek Into Darkness was good too

  2. By that I take it you didn't, and that therefore my opinions will always be different from yours, in which case it follows that you hate Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Back To The Future and Casablanca. You monster.

  3. Yeah, but what do you think about the Japanese Spider-Man TV series, Neil?

  4. From what I've seen it's the zenith of Japanese culture.