Friday, 27 June 2014



Amazing? No, not really. Since this is the fifth Spider-man movie in twelve years and the second Part 2 in a decade, the one thing it's now almost impossible for Spider-man to be is Amazing. The Frankly Unnecessary, Wildly Overblown And Way Too Long Spider-Man 2, more like, but presumably that didn't look good on the poster, and Oh No Not Again was already taken. Because we've seen the angst before, with Peter Parker torn between his love for Gwen (or Mary Jane in the Raimi films) and his need to protect her from Spider-man's enemies, with his need to find out what really happened to his parents, with his need to keep his identity secret....

It looks like the makers are aware of this potential lack of amazement, and to compensate they've ramped up the CGI to the point where it's sometimes incoherent on a medium-sized multiplex screen in 2D. God alone knows what it's like from the front row of a 3D IMAX screen. Nowhere in The Amazing Spider-man 2 is this more apparent than the climactic face-off between Spidey and Electro, a supervillain created when downtrodden, mild-mannered electrician Max (Jamie Foxx) falls into a giant vat of electric eels (as you do) and is reborn as a glow-in-the-dark combination of Dr Manhattan and the Emperor Palpatine, firing lightning bolts from his fingers. With him, Spidey and the camera all whizzing around surrounded by electric squiggles, you lose any sense of perspective or where the combatants are in relation to each other, or indeed Planet Earth.

In addition there's Harry Osgood, Peter's childhood friend who believes Spider-man's blood can alleviate the terminal disease he's inherited, and when he's refused he turns to the dark side and inevitably turns into a secondary supervillain who isn't specifically named as The Green Goblin but will apparently return in the third one sometime in 2016 (they already have a 2018 release date pencilled in for The By Now Frankly Tiresome Spider-Man 4). Their big fight scene takes place immediately after Electro's, so by then you're already exhausted, and things don't turn out too well....

I actually didn't mind Marc Webb's last Spidey reboot: I vastly preferred it to the Raimi films which were no fun at all. But it probably doesn't matter as it's Spider-man: like The Incredible Hulk he always seemed to be a stupid idea for a superhero. Neither Raimi nor Webb were able to put much emotional weight on the concept anyway because it's a primary-coloured cartoon for small children and it looks faintly silly when you're still watching it as a hairy adult. And this latest instalment doesn't need to be 142 minutes long, for crying out loud. Most bizarrely of all, the film forsakes the now traditional post-credits teaser usually reserved by the Marvel Universe for the next film in the series, instead including a promotional clip from X-Men: Days Of Future Past (which, thanks to a quirk of cinema scheduling, I actually saw a few weeks back). Sadly (or not), this does not promise the foaming nerdgasm of an X-Men/Spider-man crossover; it's just a bonus from the marketing departments.

The sad fact is that for much of the time I was bored. During the angsty bits I was bored because I've now reached the point where I don't care any more, and during the whizzbang CGI I was bored because it's just animated mayhem that's got no more grounding in reality than a Tom and Jerry cartoon. For all the incredible detail in the CGI effects it's still dull. And the film is nowhere near as fun as it should be: aside from a hilarious Mad European Scientist it's desperately short on levity. the Marvel Avengers team have cracked the formula but Spider-man hasn't. (Nor have Batman or Superman.) I wanted to like TASM2, because the first one was a fairly pleasant surprise, but for all the spectacle and mayhem it's just not that exciting or amazing.


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