Spiderman entangled in too many lines of plot

When in 2010 Sony announced a new Spiderman reboot, just three years after we’d seen the third in Sam Raimi’s series of films which starred Tobey Maguire as the eponymous web-slinger, I – along with the rest of the fanboy network – balked at an obvious attempt to sidestep creative differences with Raimi and, most crucially, prevent one of cinema’s most lucrative licenses from reverting back to the original holders at Marvel. 

Eventually, after all the speculation, we saw it – The Amazing Spiderman. The big surprise was that it turned out great. 

Spandex Expands
Hiring Marc Webb, the relatively inexperienced director of popular rom-dramedy, 500 Days of Summer, suddenly made total sense – beyond just the surname. 

Spiderman had become, in part, a convincing drama about growing up, finding your place in the world, with a spunky, likeable young couple at the centre.

All of this – and spandex. The film was a success on several fronts and certainly hit Raimi’s disappointing 2007 threequel right where it hurt.

New villains on the block
Everyone’s favourite angst-ridden vigilante is now back and we find Peter Parker (Garfield) and girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Stone) graduating from school.

Peter is angsting over the promise he made to Gwen’s dying father (Leary) at the end of the last film – to stay away from Gwen in order to keep her safe. So much so that his guilt over their relationship is causing him to see apparitions of her father all over town.  

Meanwhile Peter’s alter-ego Spiderman has to contend with the Rhino (Giametti), Electro (Foxx) and his old friend Harry Osborn (DeHaan) who is developing an alter-ego of his own…

Back to the roots?
In essence, it’s a fun, jaunty, sillier affair that, confusingly, starts to resemble the Raimi era.

As such, Webb forgoes much of the minty freshness that characterised his first entry to the franchise. 

He bought our goodwill with his juxtaposition of well-humored crime-fighting against grounded drama and carefully plotted emotional developments.

Here the drama has to compete with the origin stories of three new villains. 

The most important of these is plotted surprisingly sloppily, but the most interesting of them, Jamie Foxx’s Electro, vies admirably for your shudders, laughs and sympathy. 

However, Webb’s tendency to focus on the human element suffers, across the board, in his accommodation of grander spectacle. Flickers of the compelling chemistry we witnessed from Stone and Garfield’s pairing first time around are still here, but drowned by all the noise.

It’s getting dark in here
There’s a couple of well thought-out scenes that tackle the day-to-day problems one might encounter when secretly fighting crime in spandex. In one, Aunt May (Field) complains about how, when Peter last washed his clothes, he turned the load red and blue. He blushes – “I was washing the American flag”. 

These scenes, that transplant the comic-book realm into a practical reality, were also part of what made Webb’s first film so distinctive, but sadly they are also in short supply this time. The Amazing Spiderman 2 is not devoid of charm, but Webb’s wall-crawler has certainly lost its lustre.


The Amazing Spider-Man 2

★★★☆☆☆

Dir: Marc Webb
US, Action Drama, 2014, 106 mins
Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan, Jamie Foxx, Sally Field, Dane, Paul Giamatti

Premiered April 17
Playing Nationwide