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look out! The Amazing Spider-man 2
3/5
dir Marc Webb
prd Avi Arad, Matthew Tolmach
scr Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner
with Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Marton Csokas, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Chris Cooper, Paul Giamatti
release UK 16.Apr.14, US 2.May.14
14/US Columbia 2h22
The Amazing Spider-man 2
Now listen up: Foxx and Garfield

garfield stone dehaan
The Amazing Spider-man (2012)
See also:
SPIDER-MAN (2002)
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The Amazing Spider-man 2 The demands of the superhero blockbuster continue to show signs of staleness in this sequel. Director Webb is so good at catching the zing of the interpersonal comedy and drama that when an action sequence arrives it feels like it's invading from another movie altogether. It's still entertaining, but the solid story feels badly compromised by the demands of the genre.

Almost missing his high school graduation to save Manhattan from yet another threat, Peter (Garfield) tells his girlfriend Gwen (Stone) that he's too nervous for her safety to continue their relationship. She angrily agrees to break up, since she's going to Oxford anyway. In a funk, Peter keeps an eye on her as his crime-fighting alter-ego Spider-man, while continuing his quest to understand why his parents (Scott and Davitz) abandoned him to be raised by Aunt May (Field). Then Peter's childhood friend Harry (DeHaan) returns in need of help, giving Peter another moral dilemma.

All of this is played beautifully by a cast that's unusually gifted at mixing humour and pathos. But there's also a side-plot involving the lonely technician Max (Foxx), who is transformed by a massive electric charge from Spidey-fan to inexplicably marauding super-villain. And Harry undergoes a similar shift to spur the action side of the story, along with a completely random colliding-planes non sequitur that was clearly added to up the human stakes.

In other words, as with the first episode in this particular trilogy, this film is an uneven mix of organic comedy-drama and contrived action. By far the best bits are Garfield's interaction with Stone, Field and DeHaan, scenes packed with character-based humour, deep emotion and a real sense of intrigue in Peter's quest to understand who he is and why he yearns to do the right thing. This even makes the lower-key action scenes genuinely thrilling.

By contrast, the blockbuster storyline is distracting, cynically included to fulfil the requirements of a comic book superhero movie. Neither Max nor Harry have sufficiently developed motives for their personality changes, so it's impossible to feel any real tension or danger. Webb may have found a whizzy new angle for the skyscraper-swinging sequences, but they're still just digital cartoons. And while some big emotional punches add weight to the final act, it's hard to build up much anticipation for part 3.

cert 12 themes, violence 8.Apr.14

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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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