The marketing surrounding this release suggest that it’s just another superhero smackdown, Spider-Man v Electro. However, if you go into this film expecting just this, you will be disappointed. It’s Peter Parker v life. The strength of this film lies in the fact that it isn’t so much about Spider-Man, as it is about what it’s like for a teenage boy to live with being a superhero. That’s not to say it’s leaden with angst, in fact, a component kept intact from the first outing is that Parker is the funny, wise-ass we all know and love, but being Spider-Man is not easy. Actually, scratch that, being a teenager is not easy, being Spider-Man just doesn’t help.
One of the problems in Spider-Man 3 (AKA the single worst film ever made, bar none) was an over-abundance of villains. Amazing Spider-Man 2 almost suffers the same problem with Electro, Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) and the Rhino (Paul Giamatti). Fortunately we see a focus on just one villain. The Rhino is really just a cameo role, and Green Goblin is a side plot that simultaneously feeds into Peter Parker’s drama, and sets up for his appearance in the next Spidey outing.
Jamie Foxx’s Electro is one of the best screen villains I’ve seen in years. At first glance, Max Dillon, who will undergo the obligatory science disaster to become the superpowered Electro, is a fairly one-dimensional character. But when it comes to the first big rumble with Spidey in Times Square, you realise the character has been coloured just right. Rather than cheering for Spidey’s success you’d be forgiven for preferring he’d extend a helping hand to Electro. Unfortunately, after this, Electro is relegated to the role of generic threat as the real meat of Peter Parker’s story plays out.
As a Peter Parker drama, or even a Gwen and Peter relationship story, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a great film. But we already knew Marc Webb fared very well with relationship stories given his directorial debut, the indie hit (500) Days of Summer. It’s also a distinct advantage to the film that Garfield and Stone are extremely capable actors with a lot of chemistry beyond the typical superhero-damsel roles. The conclusion of the Electro storyline was anti-climatic and leaves you a bit empty, however, the real climax of the film comes later between Peter and Gwen. And what an ending – one that is surely going to be a major talking point in geekdom for some time. Unfortunately, after the film has its natural ending, they’ve tacked on an extra 5 minutes of epilogue that was totally unnecessary and blunts the impact of the ending we just had. They should take a leaf out of the Avengers‘s book and keep the epilogues short and sweet, just teasing a little bit of what’s to come next.