Amazing Spider-Man 2
by John Seedhouse
Comic readers in those dour days of the 1980s (pre-internet and stuck in the small towns) relied on black and white re-prints of the American superheroes for their fix. Much of the time the stories were a ramshackle mash-up of Marvel’s vaults. Chronology and the long-game of storytelling was pretty much hoofed out of the window of the printing rooms of Marvel UK. What did we get? We got Spider-Man. We got Spider-Man in action. Did we care that things made no sense from week to week? We didn’t give a toss – as long as he was punching Electro or the Green Goblin whilst suffering some form of self-identifiable personal angst then we would force our 10p into the hands of the newsagent.
SONY has a bugger of a problem with Spider-Man. Not only are there 40 odd years of stories for the character, 3 fairly successful films with Tobey Maguire and an audience demographic that actually does scream “everyone”, they also have to contend with a protagonist who is basically a tragedy led crap-magnet. Peter Parker is luckless. Nothing goes right for him for long. He is doomed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory on most occasions, and probably not by his own hand. In short – he is us. This, more than anything, is what SONY have to contend with. How the hell do you please the audience? Fanboys will hate you for messing with “canon”. The inevitable deaths will upset the 12A kiddies. The date movie partners will grumble at the “action-film” choice.
Andrew Garfield is Peter Parker. I mean he gets the character in the exact way that Tobey Maguire didn’t. Garfield does that type of broody that doesn’t quite hit the “I want to punch him in the face” level of Pattinson in Twilight. You get the feeling that the Peter Parker in this film is winging it. He is trying to figure out how to be a hero. You want to support his almost cockiness in the opening reel and yet he doesn’t alienate you to the point of wanting him to crash and burn when the inevitable fall comes.
Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci both worked on Star Trek Into Darkness and bring that character/ flawed hero driven approach to Spider-Man. There are enough pick-ups from the first film of the rebooted franchise to remind you of its salient points – foreshadowing of doom is handled by the returning Dennis Leary as the vision of Parker’s conscience) – whilst distilling the mythos of 40 years comics into a pretty decent story.
As you would expect from SONY there is some bumper cash thrown at the CGI and FX. The highlight of the first film was the web-slinging over New York and again this is truly breath-taking (helped by the size of the Giant Screen.) The problem with this is that there are a couple of points where the exposition drags out a little – always a balancing issue between narrative and boom and bang. Jamie Foxx’s Jerry Lewis-lite sections seem a little laboured, as though the editors have worried too much that we might miss the story-line – personally I didn’t but then I am at the upper end of the demographic.
Unlike Captain America: The Winter Soldier (which I reviewed here) which focuses on the BIG issues, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the “little guy” Marvel movie of the year. Steve Rogers is the “hero by design” whereas Peter Parker is the hapless bystander forced to deal with circumstance. It’s probably why our comic books back then featured Spidey – he made us feel okay to be us.
Should you go to watch it?
This is a cinema movie. It won’t be the same in the living room. It needs 3D and a big theatre experience. It’s worth the walk to the newsagent to fork over the 10p. I went with Mrs L who pointed out that it’s a love story. She is right. It is.
If you wait around for halfway through the credits then FOX has paid a huge sum to shoe-horn in a promo for X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s a crap trailer. Clearly SONY have not let them tease with any brinkmanship footage…
We saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from the comfy seats courtesy of the Giant Screen at Millenium Point.
John is a ten year old boy walking to the newsagent with his pocket money. There is no Giant Screen in Birmingham yet, but if there was he would probably bug his parents into taking him to it. John does not swing across the skyline in latex, he drives a Nissan. You can follow him on Twitter.
This review was first published on the Birmingham City University, Film Futures Blog. You can see it here.