Rating: 3 stars
Director: Mark Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Sally Field
Mumbai:There is a very fine line between elaborating a plot and complicating it. Let’s face it, ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ series, at the end of the day, is a sequel to several other sequels in the past. So to still remain ‘amazing’ at this point, is a task harder than pinning down all the human and semi-human villains in the entire comic book series.
The predecessor of this particular film did good, riding high on the novelty of a new, very-next-door-like Spiderman in the form of Andrew Garfield. We liked this Peter Parker’s lithe frame, his adorable relationship with Aunt May (Sally Field) and his blossoming love for Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), besides of course his interpretation of the superhero bit.
In this film, Spiderman is more goofy and chatty - the friendly local superhero, who strikes up conversations with everybody from the kid on the street to the cops. In fact, he’s like the adolescent kid who’s late to his own high school graduation ceremony. Only in his case, he was chasing a gang of goons who were running away with tons of plutonium that could destroy the entire New York City (of course).
And while he’s swinging across the skyscrapers, casting webs as he breathes, he’s caught in the web of his own dilemmas. Andrew’s Spiderman manages to be the dizzy combination of power and vulnerability. He’s torn between his love for Gwen and a promise he made to her dead father that he will keep her out of harm’s way.
The only way to do that is to be not involved with her at all. They do sort of break up but with the kind of chemistry they share, they cannot stay apart for long. Eventually, when they discover that Electro (Jamie Foxx), who Spiderman is after, is Gwen’s co-worker at Oscorp, she gets actively involved in the chase. But that is only one of what seems like a million parts of the main story.
‘The Amazing Spiderman 2’s major undoing is the overstuffing of characters, sub-plots and back-stories. It’s got not one but three prominent villains, besides several more negative characters. It brings together a bunch of characters spread over the comic series and if you aren’t familiar with the comics, then the story will seem like a confused cocktail.
The pace is also uncertain. Things appear to happen at a lightning speed but a muddled screenplay slackens the big picture. The film, however, does have its moments that stand out. Electro’s high voltage villain is technical ambition fulfilled. The electric waves that zoom towards you in 3D have a dizzying and dazzling effect.
However, his transition from a highly insecure, socially awkward doormat, whose day is made if you remember his name, to a villain who is out to get Spiderman, seems abrupt.
The physical transformation is well explained as he accidentally falls into a can of mutant eels to acquire their electric power. But the journey of his mind, from being the neglected one to being the demon, remains unexplored. Dane DeHann as Peter’s long lost friend turned foe Harry Osborne is menacing although his desperation comes across as melodramatic at times.
Most of the action takes place at the Times Square and director Mark Webb makes clever use of 360-degree cameras to create an impactful canvas for the showdowns. This technical tool seamlessly blends with the 3D medium to provide smooth viewing, a rarity in 3D nowadays. Full marks to Webb for that.
The climax is actually one of the best parts of the film but ironically, by the time we get there; we are worn out by the over-bearing subplots. Electro does manage to give Spiderman a worthy challenge. The final showdown is high-voltage quite literally. The clash of the webs and the (electric) waves might just remind you of the battle of ‘Avada Kedavras’ between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. Not a bad thing at all. One doesn’t expect the story to carry on after the climax but it sinks into another subplot, yet again which is totally unnecessary at this point.
What stays with you from the film, however, are the softer elements. This particular scene where Peter argues with Aunt May over laundry is one of the most endearing moments in the film. And the sparks between the charming Stone and Garfield are more lasting that Electro’s high voltage outbursts....