Saturday, 23 August, 2014

Published May 02, 2014
Spidey sequel stuck in web of cliches
The obligatory checklist of campy repartee and 3D pyrotechnics needs an update, writes DYLAN TAN
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Spin cycle: Jamie Foxx as nemesis Electro and Andrew Garfield as the titular hero have little to work with in the script department

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SIZE matters, unfortunately, when it comes to superhero flicks. Ever since Marvel spoilt the market by lining up an ensemble for The Avengers (2012), one became the loneliest number in the genre.

We'll have to wait till next summer for The Avengers' second cinematic outing but swinging into theatres this week - after Captain America's timely return last month signalled the start of Hollywood summer blockbusters season - is everybody's favourite neighbourhood crime-fighting superhero.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is director Marc Webb's sequel to his massively successful 2012 reboot of Sam Raimi's 2002 to 2007 trilogy. Much like the former's first effort, this follow-up is a generic superhero film that ticks all the right boxes - campy fun, special effects rendered in eye-popping 3D, cheesy one-liners, Stan Lee cameo (applicable only to Marvel movies), you name it - without going beyond what's expected of the genre.

Like its predecessor, the sequel is an entertaining, zippy, action-comedy which spells summer blockbuster from start to end but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is in dire need of a new spin - it doesn't really have anything new up its sleeves apart from two new villains (plus one returning from Raimi's trilogy, which really sums up the laziness of this outing).

The good thing, of course, is that Andrew Garfield still makes a great Spider-Man/Peter Parker with his boyish looks, lanky frame and natural goofiness. The chemistry between him and the always-charming Emma Stone as his long-suffering girlfriend Gwen Stacy sizzles in reel-life for this real-life couple and the pair bring with them a dose of youthful energy that's highly infectious.

James Vanderbilt, sole writer of the first film, shares story credit here with Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner - which might explain the abundance of cheesy one-liners in the script.

But the humour works great at times; like the comic genius of the scene where Stacy accidentally exposes her boyfriend's super-hero alter-ego by calling him "Peter" before realising the mistake a split-second later and covering her mouth in embarrassment.

The plot, however, often finds itself in a tangle mostly because the three villains seem to be vying for screen time with one another. Jamie Foxx's Electro gets the lion's share while Dane DeHaan's Green Goblin only gets introduced in the final act.

But that's not as bad as Paul Giamatti's Rhino which appears briefly only in the cliffhanger finale to set things up for the next sequel.

And if that's not enough to keep Spider-Man busy, Parker's love life hits rock bottom when Stacy suggests they take a break because of her plans to relocate to England. Meanwhile, an old friend, Harry Osborn (DeHaan) is also desperate for an audience with Spider-Man because he wants to know the secret to the super-hero's regenerative powers.

To round things off, one of Spidey's biggest fans, the meek Max Dillon (Foxx), turns on his idol after being spurned. When a freak work accident transforms him into Electro, a (literally) powerful monster that can kill with electricity, he hunts down Spider-Man to make the latter pay for not remembering him.

It's a lot for one lone superhero to have on his plate. Where are the Avengers when you need them? If he hasn't already, maybe Spidey should consider joining the merry band on his next outing.

Rating: C+