Following Andrew Garfield’s successful showing in the previous iteration of this new Spider-Man series, it became apparent that this reboot may have had a purpose after all. Indeed, after Tobey Maguire finished his hammy turn as the world’s favourite arachnoid character it may have been that the character needed a more charismatic actor to take the role and turn it in to something much more entertaining. While ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ did have a lot of flaws and certainly wasn’t inventive enough, it got its casting right and Garfield and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy have a strong chemistry that just about manages to hold the film together to some semblance of a degree. The same is true of its sequel on the whole, one which can be regarded as a slight improvement but nothing particularly special.
Director Marc Webb ensures that the film is as visually enticing as the first was, the sweeping and spectacular shots of Spider-Man sweeping through the city are still a treat for the eyes but the film is still lacking in any substance, poorly written villains and stilted dialogue ruining the drama of the film with pointlessly hammy character backstories and pantomime performances from the likes of Dane DeHaan and the criminally misused Jamie Foxx. Indeed, Foxx’s character could have been much more interesting and actually looked extremely cool in the pre-release stills, and even in the trailer, but a plodding and half-hearted character arc means that as the finished product, Electro actually isn’t all that interesting at all. This is definitely a massive opportunity missed, and these litter the film. DeHaan’s performance as Harry Osborne is completely misjudged, played like a creepy villainous dude from a children’s television show throughout it’s laughable for all the wrong reasons and his chemistry with the usually infectious Garfield is non-existent as a result.
The film only really comes in to its own when Garfield and Stone interact, and it’s interesting that for once it’s the romantic subplot that doesn’t feel forced or contrived but is the most genuine aspect of the whole thing. While this is a definite achievement and can be applauded, it’s a shame that nothing is on anywhere near the same standard in the rest of the film, so most of the other scenes fall flat in comparison.
It’s a shame that despite improving many things both from the original Sam Raimi trilogy and from its own first venture, the film still can’t keep it together for its entire runtime, and certainly manages to cause a lot of eye-rolling even despite its search for consistency. All throughout it’s evident that the writing is decidedly hit and miss, and as the film progresses the hits become less and less frequent, the smile-worthy gags at the start devolving in to grimaces as it reaches the final act and a distinct sense of it overstaying its welcome is certainly apparent by the time the end finally comes around. It is, however, just about clever enough in some aspects to warrant a viewing, and does have a dramatic conclusion that carries some emotional weight. Spider-Man fans and fans of the first film will no doubt enjoy it, but it’s a missed opportunity to cement the franchise as strongly as it could have.