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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

April 24, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Director: Marc Webb
Actors: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan

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Synopsis: Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) tries to balance the threat of new foes, while also investigating the fate of his deceased parents and managing his feelings for Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

Review: Read my review of the first instalment of this reboot of the Spider-Man series, and you’ll see I wasn’t a fan – primarily because it struck me as such a shamelessly cynical exercise in flogging to death the goodwill of a character who’d only just finished a generally enjoyable run under the guise of Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire, but also because it was so non-descript – at best, a half-hearted attempt to inject some pseudo-Nolanesque gravitas to proceedings.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 continues this trend. First, although I enjoyed Andrew Garfield’s work in The Social Network and Never Let Me Go, I find his turn as Peter Parker unbearably mannered and close to unwatchable at times. It’s almost as if he’s over-demonstrating the awkwardness and underdog charm of Parker, and the scene where he clumsily interrupts Gwen Stacy arriving for her Oxford interview is excruciating in its angled-for humour. Talking about Gwen Stacy, (huge spoiler alert) when her character dies late on in the piece, it struck me as another false-note for the series. The tragedy of a major character dying (off the back of Uncle Ben in the first movie) is a lazy means of injecting cheap pathos into the story, and the prettified, evocative timelapse sequence of Parker mourning Gwen through the four seasons feels unearned for a narrative that is otherwise so juvenile.

And it’s that juvenility that hints at my overriding scepticism of this current trend for all things franchised and superhero. I’m not a seasoned cultural theorist, but the sheer plethora of movies in this genre strikes me as emblem for a country still desperately trying to mythologise its imperialist ethos with the infantile bent on all things good versus evil and the sentimental take on heroism and family values. (April 2014)

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