Superheros are born out of human imagination because they function as a cathartic medium of outputting the broken psyche of an artistic individual. The superhero thus created stands for the virtues for which we couldn’t. When Stan Lee and Steve Ditko first brought Spider-Man to life in a handful of colorful pages in 1963, nothing less than a miracle was born. A story spun out from existential angst of a regular teenager, and we witnessed the onslaught of troubles that plagued his way when he became un-regular.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is spectacular. Picking up just some time after the events of the first, we’re thrown right into the heart of our friendly neighborhood hero’s web-slinging antics. The mechanical cogs of characterization, storytelling and action feel as if they’ve been pulled out of a magician’s proverbial hat Spidey’s wise-cracking is faithfully reconstructed and the film miraculously juggles with sporadic bursts of humor, pathos and unkempt confusion inside Peter’s mind. The answer to Peter’s parents, the turmoil in his heart, the groundwork for the next film to come: everything is served out quickly, hot with equal joy and smartness.
Mr Webb acts out of his own instinct and makes the on-and-off romance between Gwen and Peter a delight to watch. He tests their patience (along with ours) and keeps his hand hidden till we’re giddy with speculation. Not to worry though. The action is importantly imaginative, and splashed around in rollicking, staccato bursts of pure kinetic energy. There is a boisterous amount of comic-book vibe that the film carries in its lighter tones.
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone take the heavy responsibility of diffusing a tense boulder of expectations when the film goes to a resounding high. And they do it so well that it’s exulting to watch them. Garfield has clearly established himself as one of the best actors Marvel has working for it. Jamie Foxx, although decently appropriate, felt underused to me as Max Dillon/Electro; given the potential he has. Sally Field squishes out Aunt May’s adorable character to the screen again with balanced doses of tenderness and authority. But it’s Dane DeHaan who steals the show with his fantastic portrayal as Harry Osborn. The Chronicle actor sinks his teeth into his fleshy character with childlike, proficient glee. His performance is one of the crucial pillars of strength for the film, and he delivers. Many of the scenes wouldn’t have been half as effective, or funny, or touching, or even exciting; if the acting front wasn’t so fascinating.
The only complaint which I have is that the allocation of screen time to each of the characters is messed up. Electro is the main villain, the Green Goblin is a mere plot device (but he does something despicable), and the Rhino is a joke. Some sprinkles are thrown to us for future endeavors in a ‘Special Projects’ floor from Oscorp: the Vulture, Doc Ock (even Venom?). The film seems to suggest the coming of the Sinister Six, but it may be too early to predict that. J.Jonah Jameson is only presented in the form of an email Peter receives. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is thankfully one of the very few movies who actually use the 3D to their advantage. The extravagant action sequences gain depth and momentum from the format. I put my hand to my chest in one ballistic action scene to check my heart and found it thumping wildly in elation. That said, the 3D is worth the extra cost.
This post is, in it’s own small way, a love letter to the lightly floured seasoning of the film’s entertaining spectacles in the face of universal panning from critics. Spider-Man is back. And we’re all richer for it. Watch it as soon as you can.