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Film Review

Cobwebs

5/7/2014

film“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”

2 stars

Rated PG-13

141 minutes

Action

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Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx

Even the nerdiest members of that long-dead-gone cultural movement known as fanboys will admit that rebooting Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” is/was a mistake. It’s bad enough that the franchise lost Raimi, along with the ideally cast Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. For Sony’s franchise producers to go back to square one in retelling Spidey’s origins all over again, only to perform a weird re-imagining of Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” as a follow-up, isn’t merely redundant; it is pure folly.

Forget that Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” (2004) set a high watermark for the comic-book-movie genre that was only matched (not surpassed) in 2008 by Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” While uninitiated audiences may be awed by this latest version’s dazzling application of 3D technology, which allows the audience to experience Spidey’s giddy inertia as he dives between Manhattan skyscrapers while firing long streams of powerful webbing, the movie is a mess. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” wears out its welcome long before its protracted 141-minute running time closes.

You could buy into the freshly minted Andrew Garfield as an overly lanky version of Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man), but you’ll be challenged to have an iota of identification with the film’s generic villain du jour Electro (Jamie Foxx). Foxx’s nerd-turned-super-creep is given such short shrift by the film’s team of four screenwriters that you can barely recall his nom de guerre when you exit the cinema. By-committee scripts rarely, if ever, deliver memorable movies. “Spider-Man 2” is one more piece of evidence.

During the chase, Spidey saves Foxx’s civilian character Max Dillon. Spidey’s impromptu pep talk to Max about how he relies on this meek citizen’s help inspires in Max the same kind of goofy hero-worship that cosplay geeks are inclined to shamelessly flaunt in public places.

Coincidentally, Max works as an engineering technician at Oscorp, the diabolical corporation where Peter Parker’s on-again-off-again girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is also employed.

Alas, a tragic accident transforms Max into an unstable vessel of electromagnetic energy, now named Electro. Needless to say, Max’s former high esteem of Spider-Man gets lost considerably after the metamorphosis.

As with Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2,” Oscorp is owned by Parker’s old high school pal Harry Osborn (played by Dane DeHann). Harry’s own villainous transformation into Green Goblin only serves to remind audiences familiar with Raimi’s version of how inferior this one is. Although the screenwriters labor visibly at developing character traits and motivations for DeHann’s embattled Harry Osborn, their efforts are for naught. When Green Goblin finally makes his inevitable appearance, all narrative synergy is displaced to a point of useless distraction.

The collegiate promise of Gwen being accepted into Oxford University in London puts a crimp in Peter’s already muddled romantic intentions regarding the blonde-haired beauty. Ghostly visions of Gwen’s disapproving, and deceased, fire chief father (Dennis Leary) follow Peter around, reminding Peter to stay away from Gwen. The scriptwriters rightly emphasize Peter’s and Gwen’s romantic connection as the film’s primary narrative hook before eventually reneging on their promise. Stone’s charms soften the overblown action on display. So it’s all the more disruptive when the screenwriters break a crucial law of dramaturgy that throws the film’s emotional foundation into doubt.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is yet another of comic-book movie failure that serves to remind that fanboy culture and comic-book movies are dead. CV

Cole Smithey — The Smartest Film Critic in the World — has covered every aspect of world cinema since 1997. His reviews and video essays are archived online at www.ColeSmithey.com.

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