Thursday, 17 April 2014
REVIEW: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
142 Minutes. Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Chris Cooper, Paul Giamatti & Sally Field. Director: Marc Webb.
Marvel at something truly 'Amazing' because this is the year of Stan Lee's comic-book creations. The legend with the lasting legacy is sure going to rack up the classic cameos this year in this age of Avengers that is looking so good and Summer blockbuster hot that even the phase of the 'Age Of Ultron' will have to wait it's turn. First there was the great story and best solo Avengers film and sequel in 'Captain America-The Winter Soldier' that followed the cool conclusion of the 'Iron Man' trilogy and 'Thor's' realm ravishing 'The Dark World' and we're about to go into the 'Days Of Future Past' with all the 'X-Men' classic and 'Origins' before the 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' show 'Godzilla', those apes and transforming robots and the rest of the Summer blockbuster season the Autumn door. Still, before all that comes what was promised and now proves to be the most exciting and entertaining, fun film of the year in all its electric energy in 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' that shows we are in a super-charged sequel age no longer prone to the sophomore slump. After the five formidable trailers and the super-sick 'Sinister Six' movie spin-off deal that revolutionizes not only this genre but movies as a whole, casting aside the whole "hero" thing, the hype and buzz of this film was at an energizer level and the eagerly anticipated and long-awaited sequel to Marc Webb's new world wide web of Spidey sense scope doesn't disappoint like Batman interrogating the Joker. After the incy wincy Tobey Maguire trilogy almost left the famous web-slinger looking like Marvel's version of Aquaman, Sony's sonic and radical reboot that took this hero back to the 'Amazing' comic creations made this Spider-Man the true ultimate. With the uncanny, unquestionable, born-to-play Peter Parker Andrew Garfield making this his own, Marvel now have another webbed string to add to their Hawkeye bullseye bow that makes them the biggest and best comic book franchise, even if D.C. has the Batman.
Now those routine 'Begins' and 'Origins' are out the way, we don't have to see this kid get bitten by a spider aaaagain, whilst letting a criminal walk that would eventually run into his uncle with disatarous effects aaaaagain...you'd thought he would have learnt by now. Now that Webb and Garfield have the power now they live up to the great responsibility of making this sequel as truly super and amazing as this character connotes. Mixing that classic Spidey comic cockiness and charm whilst offsetting it with the anxious angst of the kid that hides behind the mask, Andrew Garfield has the perfect dynamic duality to play both sides of the two-faces of Pete Parker and his arachnids friends coin. This 'Boy A' still looks the part in this 'Social Network' age even at 30 and he brings that amazing 'Never Let Me Go' acting to the forefront of an action-packed picture with more hearts and smarts that this Marvel universe is finally getting credit where its due these days. Rib-tickling, cackling, heart-warming, and breaking this cat Garfield is the man. The only thing that fits better than his suiting up in the spandex is his chemistry with science-stud Gwen Stacey played by Emma Stone in all her rock-solid, Jennifer Lawrence chasing performances. The rumoured, 'are they/aren't they' off-screen relationship is ignited by their on-screen romance that looks to defy a deleted M.J. and the 'Ghost Dad' fatherly wishes of Denis Leary who is (sort-of) missed as much as Martin Sheen's Uncle Ben (sniff, sniff) in this sequel, (thankfully for your lump in the throat, nostalgic emotions there's more cute kids in Spidey costumes being real heroes like that Evian commercial tie-in). There's no doubt that Gwen is Parker's muse as the devoted defiance and dedicated diverging paths of these two leads follows through to something that shows you whats most important in this life. Leave it to Marvel to offer more lessons learnt inbetween the comic-book lines of their exciting epics. Like a friend recentely said, parents should read comics to their kids before bed like books, because there's a lot to be taken from a franchise that has been writing stories that mirror real-life for decades and generations of world and cultural change.
The classic coupling of Garfield and Stone that made the first film and this sequel so stunning isn't the only deal on deck however. Young Parker has a lot more to deal with than just matters of the heart. There's a lot more in his web to stick to and these aren't the Maguire days of holding a monorail of people on one strand and his girlfriend on the other, wondering if there was even time to do his homework or come up with a better dogged excuse before next morning. This is a new semester and with a classic cast-roll call that even features the likes of Chris Cooper and Paul Giamatti having foreign fun as the Rhino, you know this film is armed with the type of power to mettle up with the rest. Still in this hash-tag trend and age of 'Enemies Unite' there is more at stake than a chrome powered endangered species. With hints of Doc Oc and more of Oscorp's sinsiter research into the dark side this film has more villain venom than Spider-Man's suit being washed with black ink. First there's 'Django Unplugged' as comedian/singer and Oscar winning actor on the other side Jamie Foxx shows this is truly his time. The man whose about to scale new 'Lincoln' heights by playing Martin Luther King Jnr has even recentley played president for Sony in 'White House Down'. Still, nothing is as exciting as this 'Ray' of light as Foxx ignites the box to play the effervescent Electo villain. More than looking like a member of the Blue Man Group, Foxx wears this living colour as well as when he was allowed to pick his own clothes in 'Django Unchained'. Foxx's fantastic turn of the switch gives us an epic lights out showdown amongst the electric neons of New York's heart and core Times Square, set to the tone of the flashing blue and red police sirens, that might just be one of Marvel's brightest and best, stunning set-pieces of all-time. In living colour and brighter than Tokyo, these moments and this film as a current whole are so bold and brilliant you won't want the power to go out. I hope you aren't afraid of the dark, because Electro's going to turn out your light. Even Foxx's nerdy, gap-toothed, combed-over, origin Max character is perfectly peculiar as Foxx shows more from his box of tricks as being one of the most versatile and underrated Academy actors out there. Remember this is a guy that played blind musican Ray Charles and s schizophrenic violinist alongside 'Iron Man' in 'The Soloist' for your award tour. Once he has an old-school Batman like villain's accident, and then takes to the electric-current of catchphrases like Arnie's Freeze (but without the sighs), Jamie and his electric voice you want to bottle up with the other famous bad guy greats, pulls it all off and out the socket for something simply stunning.
An epic finale on a power-grid isn't the only thing that lights up this sequel however. There's shades of green to make this day complete too. Showing that he can stride both sides of the beginning and end of the bad-guy walk just as great and sympathetically, boder-line pathetic as Foxx, Dane DeHaan is incredible as Harry Osborne's Green Goblin as the 'Lawless' and 'The Place Beyond The Pines' scene stealer gives us even more 'Chronicles' of his classic young career and already complete catalogue. The man with a dirty dozen films in just four years of being in Hollywood shows the young DiCaprio and James Dean (literally...he's about to assume the amazing task of playing him) smarts and skills that make his odd and offbeat style outstanding. This great Dane looks perfect as the part of Goblin, enough to push James Franco of the glider and show the werid and wonderful Willem Dafoe that he doesn't even need a stupid mask. Teaming up with Foxx's Electro this is the best villain partnership since the good old days of the 90's Carrey's and Tommy Lee Jones'. Their entrance was good...these guys are better. Smashing pumpkins like the generation he belongs to, DeHaan looks sick and sinsiter as the Six's leader but it's the dying to live, anxiety, angst-ridden amazing acting of his sheltered by the spoils of riches Harry character beforehand that truly give the classic 'it's complicated' acting and pairing of Parker and Stacey a real B.F.F. rival. Reunited with his best friend, Peter, Osborne gives our lead more to follow down this web and the inspiring, intense interplay between Garfield and Dane show these two belong to the next generation of great, young male lead actors that are already showing the Gosling's and Cooper's that this time and tide are theirs. Ready to 'Kill Your Darling's the kid that got it on with 'Harry Potter' has more tricks of his terrifically twisting trade to spell his success. Of course there's the character of New York itself that makes this all Cruise complete, and the backdrop for every blockbuster looks the best with the Spider swinging round all those world famous skyscrapers in 3D's gloriest, inspired IMAX. This is the true Gotham. With this and the likes of B. J. Novak (spot the latest egg this Easter?) and Colm Feore rounding out the cast this is all worked so well all the way down to the great Sally Field in the mothering role of Aunt May and her tears of endearment. Even without the Sheen of Uncle Ben, Sally fields some inspired influence on a tear of an emotional performance for a film that has everything, even a great deal reveal after the classic wait for the closing credits moment. Also with the 'Happy', 'Dark Knight' days of 'Despicable Me's' Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer classically collaborating with the 'Magnificent Six' on a supersonic score, we are given a stunning soundtrack to complete the most electric film of the year. That folks is your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, doing whatever a spider can for a superior sequel. Now with all this in Webb's design even the most ardent arachnophobe will be amazingly convinced that it's time to catch a spider. TIM DAVID HARVEY.