Andrew Garfield steps into the famous spandex suit for a second time. Two years on and he’s still dating Gwen (Emma Stone), haunted by her dead father (not literally) whose dying wish was for him to keep away from Gwen. With Gwen vying for a place at Oxford, that may become easier than he thinks, but there’s more on Peter’s mind as Electro (Jamie Foxx) terrorises New York, his friendship with heir-to-billions Harry Osborne deteriorates, and his long-dead father finds increasingly contrived ways of communicating expository dialogue.
I was surprised this film had an original plot. I was expecting another version of the origins story, as director Marc Webb seems to think the general public aren’t capable of remembering it for more than about a year. And with the last of my anger at 2011’s pointless retelling of Spidey’s beginnings out of the way, I’m free to say this film is actually rather good. There seems to have been a point in the last five years where the people who make Marvel movies looked over their back catalogue and thought about what made the good ones good and the bad ones bad, and decided to avoid making bad ones in future, meaning we can now expect a far more consistent standard.
We’re thankfully saved the boredom of seeing Uncle Ben shot again, as the action kicks off right away with Spidey taking on a high speed car chase on the way to his graduation. Gone is Toby McGuire’s impossibly boring, dough-faced dweeb, replaced by a Peter Parker who actually seems to enjoy being Spider-Man, and isn’t on the verge of tears the whole time. Gwen Stacey continues the tradition of superhero girlfriends being rather dull, but at least they’re increasingly given something to do that isn’t just playing the damsel in distress. Thor’s Jane is a physicist, Pepper Potts basically runs Stark Industries, and Gwen is a scientist at Oscorp who plays a crucial part in saving the day.
Jamie Foxx is great as Electro, a Carrie-esque victim of a villain, with powers and appearance that are basically Dr Manhattan from The Watchmen. While The Lizard in the first film was a bit of a let-down, Electro looks great and is a very cool character to watch. Webb showed his creativity in exploring the potential of Spidey’s powers in part 1, and shows the same level of ingenuity with Electro. Also, Peter has upgraded from Bing to Google, so this film is far more believable.
Chris Cooper briefly features as Norman Osborn, played by Willem Defoe in 2002, meaning the character has now been played by Hollywood’s two most evil looking actors. If they re-boot it again in a few years the only one they’ll have left is Hugo Weaving. But it’s Osborn Jr, Harry, who takes the bigger role, with Dane DeHaan giving a great performance.
It feels a little like the storyline with Electro simply wasn’t substantial enough, so they added the peripheral Harry plot to pad it out a bit. After Electro is dealt with they tack on about 20 minutes of what feels like the beginning of the next film. It’s a curious decision, but not one that’s detrimental to the movie.
Altogether Webb continues to right Sam Raimi’s wrongs and make the world a better place. Like the first movie it seems a stretch to call it amazing, but it’s certainly pretty darn good.