Film review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The latest adventures of the web-slinger is enjoyable enough, but the bombastic CGI is too much of the same-old-same-old

The Amazing Spider-man 2
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Director: Marc Webb
Cert: 12A
Genre: Action
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field
Running Time: 2 hrs 22 mins

If the sequel to the reboot of Sam Raimi's adaptation of Marvel's Spider-Man (please keep up) has anything to teach us, it's that mid-ranking scientists really shouldn't spend time in the lab after everbody else has gone home. The chances of being transformed into a lizard-person, robot-thing or, as happens to Jamie Foxx here, a kind of human dynamo seem absurdly high.

It takes well over an hour for Foxx's character to become Electro – an unfortunate mix of Smurf and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr Freeze – but that delay is not altogether a bad thing. As was the case with the first less-than-amazing film, the latest episode is good at origin stories, youthful romance and everyday misunderstandings. It's rather less impressive when the story winds towards its concluding explosions. Director Marc Webb made his name with the light comedy (500) Days of Summer, and light comedy is clearly what he's best at.

Moving through a Spidey universe that doesn't yet include Mary-Jane Watson, Amazing 2 follows Peter Parker's cute romance with boffin Gwen Stacy, his renewed friendship with rich-kid Harry Osborne, and his attempts to explain his parents' disappearance. Meanwhile, Foxx's shy drone is making bad decisions about late-night shifts.

Webb has certainly cast the film well. Andrew Garfield displays a less alienating nervousness than did Tobey Maguire (he's edgy because he's a kid, not because he's a neurotic) and he has a good take on Spider-Man's endless banter: the superhero is a little like a pushy waiter trying too hard to joke his way towards tips. Dane DeHaan is eerily fragile as more-than-usually patrician Osborne. Sally Field, once again, reclaims Aunt May from patronising little-old-lady stereotypes.


Fears that, like Raimi's Spider-Man 3, the film might be overcrowded with villains prove unfounded. Paul Giamatti's brief appearance as the Rhino is little more than an amuse-bouche for the next episode. The monster that Osborne becomes (can this really count as a "spoiler"?) stays off his flying tea-tray until the closing 15 minutes.

For all that, the new franchise has yet to establish any fresh reason for existence beyond Sony’s determination to keep hold of the Spidey rights. Away from the ho-hum action sequences, the film is funny enough, charming enough and zippy enough. But it feels like a variation on the last series rather than any sort of proper reinvention.

And we’ve still to meet J Jonah Jameson. Boo!

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist