The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Time Out says
Dir: Marc Webb (2014, 135 minutes). Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan. Opens May 1.
Spider-Man has always been the people’s superhero. He’s a high-school dweeb whose superhuman powers allow him to fight crime but don’t offer him any help at all in dealing with the everyday problems of being a teenager. Girls, friends, parents, authority – he’s on his own.
It’s this intimate side of the webslinging wonder that clearly appeals to both director Marc Webb and his star Andrew Garfield. Like the first film in this rebooted series, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ is as much about a boy growing up as it is about heroes and villains. The problem is that these two aspects are equally key in creating a satisfying blockbuster – and they can’t find a way to reconcile them.
The result is an overlong, at times almost plot-free soap opera that introduces a wealth of characters and dips into a wide variety of subplots but never comes together as a story. We find Spidey late for his high-school graduation (thanks, of course, to a truckload of stolen plutonium) and questioning whether he’s ready to go out into the big wide world of commitment and responsibility. But it’s not long before other, more life-threatening concerns arise in the form of Jamie Foxx’s recluse-turned-power-conductor Electro and Dane DeHaan’s childhood buddy-turned-spoilt rich kid Harry Osborn.
DeHaan is by far the best thing here, and his scenes with Garfield have an integrity lacking elsewhere. Foxx, too, is very watchable: The effects make-up is spectacular and his character is intriguingly downtrodden, if dubious in its portrayal of the mentally ill.
However, much about ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ doesn’t work. Garfield aims for dorky and loveable but comes off as a bit smug; Emma Stone, as his squeeze Gwen, gets too little to do; the big action sequences are perfunctory, confusing and too infrequent. Those who made the first movie such a huge success will doubtless find much to enjoy here, while others will find themselves longing for the boldness, scope and wit of ‘The Avengers’. Tom Huddleston