Just over ten years after the first Spider-Man movie was released, Spidey web-slings back into action in the sequel of the rebooted comic book film franchise. Although this mouthful sounds quite redundant on paper, The Amazing Spider-Man series is undeniably treading a somewhat different path to its predecessors, whilst also remaining loyal to the sentiments of the source material.
The sequel builds on the groundwork of the first film’s origin story and it has the same easy-going quality, not taking itself too seriously until the moments arise. Now at college, Peter Parker (Garfield) has his trademark snark in place under his spandex, balancing the relentless superhero responsibilities alongside his slightly tumultuous love life with plucky scientist Gwen Stacy (Stone).
Whether it be Peter nearly missing his high-school graduation because of a plutonium heist or his struggle to wash his costume without turning everything red and blue, the film’s fundamental charm lies in its depiction of the humourous impracticalities of being a teenage superhero, and a particularly endearing scene includes a sniffly Spider-Man preventing a store robbery on the way to pick up some Vicks.
Displaying an unconventional dorky confidence, Andrew Garfield makes for a delightfully endearing lead and does all he can with an occasionally clumsy screenplay. Emma Stone, meanwhile, is as charming as ever and the film makes a mistake in limiting her screen-time. But the chemistry between the two leads is infectious, and their story easily becomes one of the most enjoyable parts of the plot. Peter’s puppy-dog demeanour and Gwen’s bubbliness mean that at times you can’t help but wonder whether this would have been better as a simple romantic comedy, without the trappings of a dreary super villain subplot.
But their relationship has its fair share of angst. Peter is haunted by Gwen’s deceased father and his promise to stay away in order to protect her, and coupled with his unresolved resentment at his orphaned status, we see Peter’s hero complex develop organically to reveal his fear of getting too close to anyone, only to lose them.
Consequently, it is a great shame that the villains of the piece do not remotely measure up to the easily agreeable leads. Peter’s childhood friend, Harry Osborn (DeHaan), resurfaces as the corrupt CEO of Oscorp and his severe hair parting may well be the most interesting aspect of his character. Meanwhile, Jamie Foxx does very little to earn his screen-time through his amateurish turn as Spidey-super-fan-turned-arch-nemesis Electro, and although the narratives of the two downtrodden men are initially promising, in practice, they are exceedingly clichéd.
The box office oversaturation of superhero movies in the past few years means that the film is at an unfair disadvantage, particularly when compared to pitch-perfect ventures from Marvel Studios, like 2012’s The Avengers. A whirl of CGI and cinematography, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is still an underdog like its protagonist, and although it is by no means a bad movie, it does suffer from a lack of originality in terms of storyline. But the one thing on its side is Spider-Man’s continued status as an everyman’s hero. In the midst of large-scale crime, he still manages to provide individual hope, protecting a bullied child and walking him home, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s unashamed embrace of sentimentality most definitely works in its favour.