When I heard that Marc Webb (appropriate name) was chosen to reboot the Spider-Man (Spider-Man) franchise I was rather worried. I have to say, I didn’t mind the previous three movies at all. They were fun, stupid action movies that dulled the pain I call life (issues?) and I wondered if enough time had passed to justify more blue and red spandex (sorry, Superman). With The Amazing Spider-Man, I was pleasantly surprised. What we got was a far more mature (albeit a bit more emo) Spider-Man – convincingly played by Andrew Garfield – that had exactly what everyone needs these days: ‘grit’. So when I was sitting down with my stale popcorn and watered down coke, I was rather excited to watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro, and it certainly delivered in some areas, while being as hollow as a spider’s breakfast in others.

Vertigo

As the title states, the movie’s big bad is Electro (played by the ever awesome Jamie Fox), a scientist that has a close call with, you guessed it, electricity. Electro kicks some serious arse. Namely Spiderman’s. He has powers that allow him to fly, throw balls of lightning, teleport and lift objects – all issues our webbed friend has to deal with.

The visual effects used to achieve all of this is mind blowing. The effects team really spared no expense in bringing to life a character that is literally made from lightning. From being able to see under his skin through to his nervous system, to the way his voice reverberates and crackles with static, every visceral element of Electro is well thought out. Which is why it’s a crying shame that his character’s motivation isn’t.

Basing the antagonist’s psychopathic tendencies on little more than ‘you forgot my name’ is not only shallow but rather ridiculous when juxtaposing it to Spider-Man’s exposition. Indeed, we do see Electro as his former, socially marginalised public persona, Max Dillon, a character so frustratingly contrived you want to slap some ego into him. One thing that did work though was the music/sound effects when Electro was on the screen. A sort of mixture of whispers of madness, motivation and memories, it made one shiver.

I think had screenwriters Jeff Pinkner, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci left out Harry Osborn’s (played by Dane DeHaan) descent into mad desperation, they could have focused more on Electro’s character building, something that would have lent him far more legitimacy.

not a Smurf

As I touched on above, a lot of effort has gone into exploring the motivations of Spider-Man in this sequel. His turbulent relationship with the lovely Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is at times very touching, but unfortunately feels a bit too repeated at others (‘I can’t be with you, your daddy said so’ can only be played so many times before it gets old). What the movie very well though, is emphasize the close relationship the two have. We also explore Spiderman’s frustration at himself as he tries to do the ‘right thing’ by her and watch as what is ‘right’ changes with his development.

And Gwen is lovely, not sure if I’ve said that already?

We also get to look back at his parents, more importantly his father, and what happened to them and how this has played a role in Spidey’s life. This thirst for knowledge, which at times drives him away from his aunt, really goes a long way to making his growth feel more real and allows the writers to unlock Garfield’s acting talent in some extreme scenes.

On the topic of desperation the protagonist’s best friend, Harry Osborn, is played well by DeHaan, a vitamin D deprived looking rich boy, and that’s before he become the Goblin. Osborn works as a nice mirror to Spider-Man. He is rich, hated his dad and has a genetic issue that is far from beneficial. He slowly becomes more manic as this issue spreads through his body forcing him to take drastic measures.

Unfortunately many of these come across as rather convoluted and forced. Again the writers speed up the process, jumping from A to Z in a heartbeat which leaves the audience unconvinced and unable to feel anything for the character. I really believe his story could have been left out. It takes away from Electro’s ‘Rise’ and makes it more like Electro’s only here to wow you with his special effects and get Osborn what he wants. Indeed the only real development of a bad guy is with Osborn as he wins hands down in the ‘legitimately pissed off’ with Spider-Man club, but I won’t go into more detail lest I spoil his story.

it's electrifying

For those looking for a fun action movie with some of the best use of CGI around, you won’t go wrong with The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro. The action scenes are huge, the characters super powerful and the pace set at roller-coaster speed. It is also a lot funnier than the other movies, focusing on a rather arrogant Spider-Man who is taught quite a few lessons in humility by the end.

What the movie does lose however, is logical progression. The movement from ‘I am in need of help’ to raging psychopath (in the case of the Goblin) is laughably quick. Indeed, in one case it happens in one short scene. Also, once again a blockbuster suffers from the ‘more is better’ syndrome we so often see these days. I did enjoy it, don’t get me wrong but I could also see where such simple things could have been refined to make it a far more logical and easily accessible movie.

Last Updated: April 22, 2014

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Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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