Published May 02, 2014It seemed premature to reboot the Spider-Man franchise so soon after Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 squandered its potential in 2007. But to the credit of director Marc Webb and his charming actors, 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man washed down that cynicism like a cold can of cream soda. And why shouldn't it have? Spider-Man is fundamentally a simple story about a wholesome teenager, in the classic American mould, who stands up for what's right. And who said a big, fat summer blockbuster has to mean anything?
The years of hype and promotion leading up to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 reveals how much Sony has riding on this franchise. But the drawn out lead-up to its release, full of casting rumours and announced release dates and press releases, has been so exhausting it's simultaneously hard to believe that the film is finally here and, at the same time, not already available on DVD, Blu-Ray and cranial implants. (To that end, the $100 collector's set was just announced.)
So? Does the film make it worth it?
Not exactly. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is that special kind of bloated that briskly introduces beat after beat, yet manages to run close to two-and-a-half hours and by the end still feel unresolved. That's not going to stop most people from seeing it, and nor should it; the film has some of the best action sequences seen in a comic book movie, masterfully slowing down the action to explore the beautiful shots that Webb has composed. Outside of these moments, however, the film feels directionless: actors endlessly banter off-the-cuff throughout the film, while the score plows ahead jauntily regardless of what's happening on screen. By the time Andrew Garfield concludes a fight by jumping in the air and clicking his heels together, it's as though we're back in the jazz-hands territory of Raimi's last entry.
It's not Webb's fault that a certain villain featured in the marketing blitzkrieg only appears in the films' final moments. It might not even be his fault that the film feels like a four- or five-episode marathon of a Netflix series in the dark with strangers. It's just that after such an unusually long relationship with this movie, it's sad to see ol' Spidey just reduced to franchise fodder in the war against The Avengers; the studio already announced release dates for two more sequels and the titles of two separate spin-offs.
Like the Avengers-related films and the X-Men series before it, there is an incredible amount of faith required of the audience to buy into there the promise that something bigger and better is just around the corner. Less is more, but increasingly, more is also less.