Life//Film / TV
by Francesca James
This instalment from Marc Webb has had so much speculation and deliberation attached to it that the film itself faced being an anti-climax after the build-up. But, Webb and his fantastic cast deliver on not only keeping to the original Spiderman plot, but also creating a memorable, enigmatic and exciting depiction of Peter Parker’s double life.
The film picks up shortly where we left in the first Amazing Spiderman with Parker finding it difficult to keep his promise to his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy’s (Emma Stone), late father’s request to leave her alone, and his battle with villains within New York City.
We are joined by Harry Osborn, Parker’s old friend, which adds one of the best dramatic performances witnessed in the film. Osborn, played by Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) depicts his move from outcast to head of his father’s company Oscorp with strength and confidence. His performance is not only incredibly heartfelt and realistic as the son whose father never cared for him, but also dark, perverse and twisted as his father’s true inheritance becomes apparent. The only downside to DeHaan’s character in my opinion is how fast his transition from man to Goblin takes place. Although the film is a respectable 142 minutes long, the film is so packed with lots of interweaving storylines, it feels as though the Green Goblin’s evolution happens too soon and there isn’t as much emphasis placed upon it as it should be.
Sam Raimi’s version of the Green Goblin played by James Franco saw the progression of the character a bit more gradual, which made it a bit more authentic to the audience. However, DeHaan’s performance cannot be flawed and the onus could be placed upon the Director and writers for scrimping on character progression and instead working more on Peter Parker’s.
Andrew Garfield returns to play the funny, cute and young Spiderman that most audiences fell in love with in the first of this franchise. His portrayal of Spiderman shows more of the internal battle that he has to accept: the obligations as Peter Parker versus his responsibilities as Spiderman. He is struggling to find information about his parents and the reappearance of Harry Osborn makes Parker more interested in finding out about his parents. Although the film has some of the best CGI and fight scenes, Spiderman isn’t in the film that much. The character arc of Parker is focused on more, giving the audience a more emotional connection, leading us to feel empathy when things go awry. Marc Webb stated that he remained with the original story for “audiences to connect to him. They need the A-to-B emotional arc and flow of that character in order to feel the things they that you want the audience to feel.”
His other half, Gwen Stacy is played by the ever charming and beautiful Emma Stone who plays her character with such ease that you sometimes forget you are watching a Hollywood Blockbuster and instead watching a home movie with her and her on and off-screen beau, Andrew Garfield. The chemistry oozed between the two of them is palpable and you believe their connection is not only within the characters they play but also in real life. Webb used this to his advantage to create a strong character in Gwen, relinquishing the title of damsel in distress for perhaps Mary Jane Watson in the next film. Stacy plays a strong, individual and independent woman, a far cry away from most heroines in a film where the male is the lead. Her ambition, curiosity and bravery create a heroine that young girls can look up to and men respect.
Not only has Parker got to deal with his girlfriend, his Aunt, his internal struggle and his fight for the truth about his parents, but he also has three villains to compete with. First we have Electro played by Oscar winner Jamie Foxx. The character when we meet him works at Oscorp and we know him as Max Dillon, an outcast who people ignore and treat with disdain. He worships Spiderman after he was saved from a near-fatal car crash and is the epitome of ‘geek’ if there ever was one. He adds an almost over-dramatised aspect of humour and hilarity that is unfortunately not matched after he suffers an accident involving electric eels in Oscorp headquarters. Once he has morphed into Electro, the CGI takes over and Jamie Foxx’s incredible acting is lost. He resembles a blue version of Silas from The Da Vinci Code (2006), he grunts, has little emotion and the plot seems to unravel. His obsession with Spiderman is quickly flipped on its back when Spiderman forgets Dillon’s name, and from this he vows to be evil and make New York feel his pain by cutting the electric supply for the city. Like DeHaan’s character development, Electro’s happens too quickly to feel realistic or understandable. Although the writers work hard to express the reasoning behind Electro’s need to be the centre of attention due to being ignored and an outcast for so long, the emotional connection you have with Max Dillon is lost when you lose the facial recognition with Foxx and so the CGI here has a lot to answer for.
With the Green Goblin and Electro you would think this would create a full and exciting film to focus on, but Webb brings in Rhino, another of Spiderman’s foes for him to fight. Paul Giomatti is seen in the opening credits as a slightly deranged and over-the-top criminal that Spiderman apprehends and is sent to prison. Later we hear that on the news he has escaped from the prison yet not until the end scene do we see him again before the credits close, setting up the story for the next instalment. Three villains along with the plot of Parker finding out the truth about his parents, his relationship with Gwen, his parents and arrival of his old friend Osborn can feel a little too much at times, but it is so marvellously interlinked that it does flow. There aren’t many moments that you feel bored; instead you swing along on the webs that he weaves. Unlike some films though, where you feel directly involved, you do feel on the outside slightly with this film. This could be to the internal struggle that is so paramount within this film that you aren’t totally allowed inside holding back information that will slowly be revealed in later films.
Shailene Woodley (Divergent) was cast as Mary Jane Watson and shot her scenes yet these were cut so that the audience could concentrate solely on the relationship of Gwen and Parker. Webb decided to make Parker monogamous within this film, which I found to be a relief when considering all the different plot lines and character motives. It also meant that you were rooting directly for the couple to overcome any differences they may face. The speculation surrounding Emma Stones character has been the main talk of the last few months with lots of rumours stating she would die within this film, and others saying this cannot be so as she has signed on for two more Spidey films. In the comic where Stacy dies, she is wearing a specific outfit that is seen within this film, and so whether Webb sticks to the original plotline or teases the true Spiderman fans is something I shall let you discover.
This coming of age film sees Spiderman go through many struggles yet humour breaks up the sometimes more serious moments allowing for you to come away somewhat uplifted. This film is a must for any sci-fi, comic book, Spiderman, Marvel and DC fans as well as those who adore the Andrew Garfield/Emma Stone combo.