The second installment in the hugely successful reboot of the Webslinger’s franchise has finally arrived to our screens, helmed again by Marc Webb. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ was released in the UK last Wednesday and although it has been eagerly anticipated, it has received largely negative critical response, however, I believe this unfavorable attention is harsh, and arguably unjustified.
The film follows on shortly after the events of its predecessor, with Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker still trying to solve his parent’s murder whilst also contemplating whether dating Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is the right thing to do (especially after his promise to her dying father). The villain, or villains in this case, comes in the form of Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon AKA Electro, Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn AKA Green Goblin and the brief appearance of Paul Giamatti as the Rhino.
It’s clear like in Marc Webb’s first Spider-Man outing that Andrew Garfield is perfect for the role; he’s lanky, quirky and is a much truer fit to the original comic books, especially compared to Tobey Maguire’s stale portrayal in Sam Raimi’s disappointing Spiderman trilogy. Garfield’s Peter Parker is extremely likeable, and his romance with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is easily the highlight of the film. This on-screen chemistry is probably enhanced by the fact that the pair are actually in a relationship in real life. You can also clearly see reminisces of the film that made Marc Webb famous, ‘500 Days of Summer’. The extremely quirky romance between Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in that film is undeniably similar to the relationship in question.
With practically ever super-hero film, it is usually the stunning set-pieces and action sequences that dominate, The Amazing Spiderman 2 is different in this sense. The action here has a real sense of deja-vu, we’ve seen it all before, the whole Harry Osborn and Green Goblin plot was the focus of the first Spiderman film all the way back in 2002, and although DeHaan’s Osborn is a much better fit than James Franco’s original portrayal, it still doesn’t make up for the repetition.
The other issue with The Amazing Spiderman 2 is the fact that there are simply too many villains; Spidey is battling on so many fronts it becomes difficult to keep up. He’s not only attacked on the personal front with the conspiracy of his parents’ death and with the challenging relationship with Gwen Stacy, but also he is in conflict with three separate villains, and you can’t help but think that the film would have benefitted with cutting at least one of these out, it certainly would have cut down the 142-minute running time.
These two elements of the film have been widely criticized, however, I believe these criticisms are harsh; it is true that the feeling of deja-vu is slightly off-putting, but the performances of Garfield and Stone in the lead roles are so watchable, their charming relationship somehow manages to elevate itself above the frequent action sequences, and steal the film’s limelight, it’s heartwarming, and by the end of the film, heartbreaking too. All in all, The Amazing Spiderman 2 is an enjoyable film, and is much better than its predecessor, but only thanks to its leading duo.