The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro (2014)

His greatest battle begins.

With only a decade separating Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, one can’t help but get that feeling of déjà vu. In order to differentiate the titles for the ‘dim-witted’ public, the executives at Sony have insultingly added ‘Rise of Electro’ to the title, so that patrons don’t get the pictures muddled up; low blow Sony. Alas, given the short time lapse between the two sequels, avoiding comparisons is almost impossible. As most are probably already aware, Webb’s Spider-Man series has taken its cues from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight series, delving into slightly murkier territory opposed to Raimi’s comical-action interpretation.

Similarly to Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 (2007), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 shares multiple plot lines but primarily focuses on Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) struggle as Spider-Man and his conflicting feelings surrounding Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), particularly after the promise he made to her dying father — a vow which literally haunts him daily.

Electrifying action!
Electrifying action!

Secondly, the picture deals with the tragedy of the lonely and ignored OSCORP technician Max Dillon — brilliantly played by an unrecognizable Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained (2012) — which brings to light the film’s major issue. As viewers come to understand that Max strives to be noticed and accepted, one can’t help but feel for the guy, even after he undergoes his shocking transformation into Electro — pun intended — and uses his power to attain recognition. Ultimately a misunderstanding with Spidey pits the two against one another, but our hero’s motives are rather sketchy, whereas Electro has already gained our affinity and comes off as the character one should be rooting for.

Next up the picture explores the succession of Peter’s childhood friend Harry Osborn — played by relative newcomer Dane DeHaan, Chronicle (2012), who gives an unnerving performance — and his rise to the OSCORP Industries throne. As the ‘king of the castle’ Osborn must deal with the dirty politics involved in the million-dollar experimental science, military research and cross-species genetics organization. Meanwhile Osborn begins to deteriorate and disfigure due to a genetic condition inherited from his dying father, which leads him on a desperate search for a cure that seemingly only Spider-Man can provide. When Spidey doesn’t comply with Osborn’s demands, it’s tough comprehending our webbed star’s judgment, given that his friend is literally falling apart and, I for one, found myself somewhat empathetic towards our villain. Be that as it may, the picture’s protagonists are rather alluring, which possibly shouldn’t be the case for a film of this magnitude — maybe this was Sony’s intention all along, as next up they plan to expand the Spider-Man universe with the Sinister Six.

Finally The Amazing Spider-Man 2 delves into the true story of Peter’s parents, who in a pre-credit sequence, are shown fighting an OSCORP assassin in a Learjet. After Parker’s sly detective work, the true motives of his parents come to light opening up an array of possibilities for future installments.

Gears are already in motion for Spidey 3!
Gears are already in motion for Spidey 3!

As one might expect, Sony spared no expense in the production and marketing of the film with most of the high-flying action sequences and effects possibly setting a new benchmark for the Spider-Man franchise. The 3D effects are impressive and immersive, particularly when Spidey is swinging around New York City or battling formidable foes. The film’s soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), and The Magnificent Six featuring Pharrell Williams and Johnny Marr is especially distinctive and adds an offbeat vibe to the picture, which surprisingly works in its favor, as it’s one of the most unique scores for a Marvel super hero feature to date.

Acting is generally solid across the board with Andrew Garfield, The Social Network (2010), portraying Peter Parker as a more confident character opposed to the Parker in Raimi’s trilogy — albeit slightly too arrogant in some instances — while his co-star Emma Stone, Easy A (2010), is feisty and advantageous sharing an effortless chemistry between our hero, paving the way for a rather hard-hitting final act. Garfield’s history/ friendship with DeHaan is also much stronger than that of Tobey Maguire and James Franco, who played Parker and Osborn in Raimi’s series. Osborn’s transformation into the Green Goblin is also better handled this time around as it derives from Harry’s fight for survival and Spider-Man’s unwillingness to fulfill Osborn’s demands, opposed to the 2007 film’s fortuitous misunderstanding. Paul Giamatti, Sideways (2004) — complete with a hammy Russian accent — is over-the-top in his limited scenes as the criminal Aleksei Sytsevich, who eventually becomes the Rhino.

'You better not screw you scenes up Foxx!'
‘You better not screw your scenes up Foxx!’

After the fairly ordinary start for Webb’s series back in 2012 with The Amazing Spider-Man coming off as a rip-off Raimi’s series rather than something fresh, it’s fair to say that Webb’s finally begun to make a name for himself and his series as this sequel lays out proper groundwork for future installments, creating a universe that can withstand potential storylines while succeeding as an individual picture. Running at 142 minutes, this is the longest Spider-Man film thus far, but fear not, it’s filled with enough emotion and solid humor to keep audiences engaged, most importantly though, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not as overstuffed or lackluster as some may have feared.

3.5 / 5 – Great

Reviewed by Mr. Movie

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro is released through Sony Pictures Australia