“On behalf of the fine people of New York and real rhinos everywhere, I ask you to put your mechanized paws in the air!”
My personal litmus test for how much I have enjoyed a movie, is whether I wish to see it again within 24 hours. This is definitely the case with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and although I could do without having to sit through the drippy teen-romance scenes starring Garfield and friends, I soon had a hankering to see the excellent supporting cast battling it out on the big screen.
A much more intelligent and less by-the-numbers Spider-Man instalment than its predecessor, Marc Webb’s second attempt at the webmeister is a potentially cluttered, but ultimately slick Marvel movie, which introduces us to some new faces as well as reinventing some seen before. It seems difficult to cover new ground in Spidey-lore when Raimi’s films are so fresh in the memory, so Webb and Kurtzman (who penned both the rebooted Star Trek films), decided to close their eyes and dip their hands into the bad-guy hat and let rip with a mix of typical villainous origin scenes that reminded me of Batman Forever. This approach is always risky as it threatens to clutter the movie with too many characters. But they are linked together well, which ensures that even when the film trips over itself with laboured metaphors and hammy lines, the movie always has an action scene ready to throw our hero’s way to ramp up the action.
After the seriousness and slightly vanilla approach of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Garfield’s likeable hero is a refreshing change, and Webb delivers jokes and levity that borders on the outright slapstick. This almost juvenile style mostly works and keeps the story moving, even when it is mixed with some fairly unoriginal plot-lines and clichés. This comedic element is offset by the typical Marvel sequel trope of ominous threat, which is ultimately epitomised in Jamie Foxx’s show-stealing performance as the fantastic Electro (who is basically a gangster version of Darth Sidious). Dane Dehaan is also superb as Harry Osborne, as he reprises a similar role to his tortured soul in Chronicle. Weirdly, both Peter and Harry look like their namesake opposites from Raimi’s trilogy.
The inaugural internal struggle between the responsibilities of being the hero and the lover is central to the plot, although it quickly becomes tiresome when most of it has been covered in not just its predecessor but Raimi’s films as well. This is a shame considering that Stone and Garfield have developed a natural humour in front of camera together, which seems spoilt by the constantly blubbering and teen-movie moments. It is also slightly concerning that Garfield seems funnier when you can’t see his face, as the jokes are well delivered when he has donned the outfit. In other words, when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is funny, it is really funny, when it is soppy, it is soaking wet. But thankfully, the sobering conclusion and blend of comedy and tragedy makes this a great entry into the Marvel franchise and possible one of the best Spider-Man movies to date!
Shapstik Verdict: Fun, bright and modern, but with the familiar dollop of sinister villainy so essential to comic-book sequels, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a massive step up from its predecessor. It may be slightly flabby around the waist with its overtly vain slow-motion shots and drippy romance, but it nonetheless covers mostly familiar ground in an electrifying and refreshing style, leaving most Marvel fans more than satisfied. 8/10