Web Slinging Sequel Fails to Electrify
Thanks to Sony Pictures Australia, Spotlight Report had the chance to see the highly anticipated film The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro. This is our review of the film, but – as usual – no matter what we say, we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because there is no better critic than yourself!
It’s commonly accepted that sequels rarely better the original, with a few notable exceptions – Aliens, The Dark Knight Rises, Silence of the Lambs (yes, it was technically a sequel) and Toy Story 2 etc. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a prime example of this ideology.
Following on from where 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man left off, we once more follow the exploits of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) as he comes to terms with his arachnid abilities, his parents abandonment and the struggles of keeping his word to his love interest’s deceased father (which he fails at miserably and spends a third of the film racked with guilt as a result) – and of course his battles with the latest, of the seemingly endless, strain of evil villains fresh from the Oscorp conveyor belt.
This time the villain comes in the form of Electro (played by Jamie Foxx) – formerly Oscorp employee Max Dillion. Starting out as a downtrodden, but brilliant, engineer and loner with clear attachment disorder, complete with comb-over and gap in his teeth, he begins the film harmless enough and is even a fan of Spider-Man (although in a very single-white female kind of way).
In true fashion of the franchise, he then undergoes a transformation following a hideous accident that turns him into Electro with the ability to manipulate electricity and his love for Spider-Man turns to hate when he feels betrayed by the web slinger.
Now, we at Spotlight like Jamie Foxx and have enjoyed watching his development over the last few years. But this feels like a regression in his career. As Max Dillion he’s a cliché geek and a virtual clone of Jim Carey’s The Cable Guy character Chip (thanks for putting that in my head Skyjoker) in that he shares the exact same attachment disorder that Chip did, and is obsessed with people that acknowledge him in any way. As Electro, he’s reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s Mr Freeze in 1997’s Batman & Robin in appearance with less of the charisma – and we’re not sure which character is more laughable (and not for the right reasons).
Ultimately, Foxx and the entire film is let down by a really poor script and storyline. With the script, the problems start from the off when the web slinger is ‘doing his thing’ amongst the sprawling skyline of Manhattan and he yells to passers-by “Hello, pedestrians.” This undoubtedly is supposed to demonstrate his likeability and the playfulness that underpins his crime fighting. But where other films of the same ilk have grown up but found that intricate balance of comedic timing with serious action, this franchise seems to have regressed.
The jovial approach that he takes to crime fighting is not particularly funny (as you would imagine was the script writers intent) and we’re pretty sure that at points in the film this actually leads to unnecessary injuries/deaths, which are glazed over by some less that witty remark as he saves one or two people, seemingly at the expense of many others.
In fact Max is one such recipient of Spider-Man’s selective saving, which then results in a strange dialogue between the pair that is truly awkward to watch.
In terms of the story line, it seems to try to cram in too much and never fully develops one idea or another. Electro is poorly explored, as is the character of Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) who spirals almost too quickly into recklessness on his road to becoming the Green Goblin. DeHaan’s performance is quite good as the desperate Osborn looking for a cure to his genetic illness but it isn’t given enough screen time to mature organically.
This seems to be one of the biggest problems for the film as there are too many plots and sub-plots attempting to be explored. Towards the end there is a desperate attempt to throw in last minute bad guys to whet the audience’s appetite for the next instalment, but this is ham fisted and just makes the film more disjointed – almost as if the focus was on the next instalment and not the film at hand.
If the intent was to rely solely on the action scenes to engage audiences, this was a big mistake as these do not even come close to rivalling its peers such as The Avengers. What’s more the film’s attempt to do so is almost laughable (not to mention nearly every action scene has a fast food sponsor somewhere in the midst).
Add to this a shockingly random and ill appropriated musical score (including dubstep, hardcore and classical) that is as conflicted as the lead character, and you have a film that will undoubtedly entangle those associated with it for many projects to come. I mean honestly, who really notices the score – it has to be truly bad for it to be noticed, right?
The one saving grace is the performance of Emma Stone as the likeable Gwen Stacy (Spoiler alert – highlight to show) But as anyone who has read the comics will tell you, Stacy dies during one of Spider-Man’s battles, and this is explored exceptionally poorly in this film to the point where we cannot actually determine how she dies – seriously, it’s baffling. But the following montage of Peter Parker standing at the graveside as the seasons change around him assures us she is dead…doesn’t it? However, Stone’s performance before her untimely death is little in compensation for just under two hours of web slinging mediocrity. (End of Spoiler)
As the fifth Spider-Man film in the past 14 years, this struggles to find its place amongst the elite superhero genre. During what is an unprecedented era of super hero movies that are making billions for the movie industry, this really fails to hit the mark and is yet another blow for the ailing franchise, which has only just been rebooted after the shambles that was 2007’s Spider-Man 3 (remember Tobey Maguire turning evil – by that I mean he becomes an emo and struts a lot).
Maybe the film is aimed at a much younger audience than its counterparts, and if that’s the case it may still have a viable future. But for it to appease the masses, the next one will need a serious overhaul.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro is now showing in Australian cinemas