Monday, May 26, 2014

From cocky to crushed crimefighter, and back again

(Some spoilers ahead.)

The sequel to "The Amazing Spider-Man" is a big, visually playful but largely uneven venture. While it is consistently well-acted by the powerhouse cast, the story is cliché-ridden and has more than its share of puzzling coincidences.

Andrew Garfield still plays the once-moody teen Peter Parker, who’s having the time of his life as costumed crimefighter Spider-Man. He and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) are dating, against the wishes of her cop father (Dennis Leary), who died knowing Peter’s secret—and its accompanying dangers—in  the prior film.

Jamie Foxx plays the awkward, bullied Spider-fan-turned-villain, Electro. Because of misplaced blame (yes, that about sums it up), the electricity-wielding antagonist suddenly dedicates his life to ridding New York of the Web-slinger, with some encouragement from the diseased and dying Harry Orsborn (Dane DeHaan). Harry also has a vendetta with Spider-Man, because the latter wouldn’t share his mutated blood, fearing disastrous consequences. But the masked vigilante just comes off as selfish and inarticulate in that refusal scene.

Anyway, the film, despite the story problems, impressively adapts Gwen Stacy’s ultimate fate. In the comic book, she was killed by the Green Goblin, so readers who know that particular detail may have expected it since the first film of the reboot. But it’s no less sad and shocking when it pushes through with it. The inclusion of the tragedy adds gloom and changes the tone of the film drastically, but it gives the emotional punch that this sequel’s other big skirmishes don’t really have. 

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