Daddy Issues – ★★★
It’s a strange thing to say but at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 you’re absolutely dying to move on to The Amazing Spider-Man 3. Whether that’s a massive compliment to the film-makers or a damning indictment of the preceding 142minutes really depends on how you want to spin it.
The film picks up where the reboot from two years ago left off with Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) about to graduate from high school with college in their sights. Parker is crippled with guilt over his relationship with Stacy having promised her dying father that he wouldn’t allow her to get mixed up in his Spider-Man exploits. He breaks it off and ignites a “complicated” phase of on-again, off-again relations. Meanwhile New York is in trouble with the villain Electro (Jamie Foxx feeling very blue) and a young, bitter and sick Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) put in charge of Oscorp Industries following the death of his father Norman (Chris Cooper). Peter is also grappling with the lack of information about his own parents’ abandonment of him – leaving him with Aunt May and Uncle Ben – and in particular just what his father was working on at Oscorp that would have caused him to leave his son.
In assessing the film you, once again, really have to put all thoughts of Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Bruce Campbell and the inimitable J. Jonah Jameson out of your mind. Two years ago I wrote “10 years on: An ode to the original Spider-Man trilogy” which was intended to close the book on what was for me a formative set of films – corny and all as that sounds.
Comic books have always been about regenerating, re-imagining and rebooting and so it’s fine that it’s Andrew Garfield wearing the suit? Right? Yeah?? So why oh why is it so hard to buy into his Spider-Man? There’s just something lacking whenever you watch him alone working on his web-shooters or taking pictures for The Daily Bugle, even now after about two hours it’s hard to say that’s he’s our generation’s Spidey.
What does work is in the chemistry and relationship between Peter and Gwen. There were no real audible complaints when it was announced that the bit part for Shailene Woodley’s Mary Jane had been cut from the movie, and the reason for this is because the one thing that The Amazing Spider-Man got right was in the casting of Stone opposite Garfield – now her real-life beau. Gwen Stacy is a strong woman who makes her own decisions, not some stranded damsel in distress like MJ often was and proves a solid ally for Parker. The film is at its best when it puts the CGI villains and destruction aside and just let’s the triangle of Garfield, Stone and the brilliant DeHaan at it.
The PG-friendly action trudges along nicely and the plot makes enough sense to keeps your interest but really it’s just an absolutely cracking final twenty minutes that saves the film from forgettable mediocrity and almost bumps up the score another grade – until you remember that sagging middle hour when you were pining for Tobey and co.
Released across Ireland on April 16th 2014