It appears that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is slowly taking shape, so Sony…oops, I mean Columbia Pictures is going out of its way to integrate its Spider-Man into it.
Recognizing the extensive Spider-Man mythos is just part of it – Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) starts contributing for The Daily Bugle, even as he faces the prospect of seeing his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) off as she heads for England to pursue further studies. Parker’s continued discovery of his late father’s research activities with Oscorp gradually reveals scientific developments of a dubious nature. Meanwhile, he has to contend with three menaces threatening his beloved New York – particularly Electro, a lowly Oscorp engineer transformed by some freak accident into a being of pure, sentient electricity; Rhino, a Russian gangster fitted with a Iron Man-esque exo-skeletal frame akin to his animal namesake; and the Green Goblin (aka Norman, Harry Osborne’s estranged son and heir to Oscorp), driven by vengeance over his own medical condition to kill Spider-Man.
The climactic scene – where Spider-Man attempts (and fails) to save Gwen from her fall within the clock tower – will remain the subject of water-cooler debates for months to come. However, there are some quibbles that need to be addressed here – mainly coincidences that seem highly contrived (even allowing the loopholes of comic-book logic). For instance, Gwen’s initial meeting with a pre-Electro Max Dillon in the Oscorp elevator. Another turns up during the climactic fight scene with Electro when Gwen offers her assistance to Spider-Man, claiming her knowledge of New York’s electric power grid.
Performance-wise, Garfield’s take on Spidey is somewhat more subdued than his first go at it. Stone’s Gwen gets much on her plate this time around, what with finishing school and moving out to pursue academics getting in the way of her relationship with PP. Even Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro gets the short end of the stick here, what with his Coolio-meets-Pres. Noynoy Aquino civilian look, then getting an origin swiped out of the Joker‘s. About the only convincing villain I see in this line-up would be Dane DeHaan’s Green Goblin, who ditches the Power Rangers-villain-worthy mask of the James Franco version. As usual, there is the Stan Lee cameo, this time situated at Gwen’s valedictory speech to her fellow graduates at Midtown High.
The musical scoring is impressive, given that credits go to veteran Hans Zimmer along with the “Magnificent 6” – a hand-picked lineup including Pharrell, Johnny Marr, Incubus’ Mark Einzinger and Dutch DJ Junkie XL (which can explain the dubsteppy wub-wubs heard during the above-mentioned power-plant fight).
In terms of photography and VFX, the web-swinging is just as impressive as its predecessor, making the audience feel that they are in Spider-Man’s suit themselves. However, quite a few scenes did come off as quite manipulative, particularly Gwen’s clock-tower fall as well as the kid in the Spider-Man costume standing in the way of the rampaging Rhino (a little subtlety please…). The end-credit sequence (yet another cliché of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies as ubiquitous as the Stan Lee cameos) is likewise unimpressive, with a preview of the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past that has no jack shit to do with Spidey’s story…tsk tsk tsk!!!!
Gotta admit, this could be a possible weak entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but admittedly not as weak as the Fantastic Four films (which are being lined up for a reboot that, hopefully, would not suck)