Andrew Garfield reprises the role of Peter Parker, who continues to don the blue and red spandex suit of Spider-Man and keep the residents of New York City safe. The one person he cares most about protecting is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), though he becomes somewhat preoccupied when the social introvert Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) gets caught up in an accident at Oscorp, attaining supernatural powers in the process and becoming the formidable adversary Electro. Though once a fervent admirer of Spider-Man’s heroic work, he soon becomes a bitter enemy. Spider-Man must also contend with the reintroduction of his old and dear friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who takes over at Oscorp, hoping to emulate his late father and use their advanced technological means to keep him alive.
Webb, who certainly silenced a fair amount of critics with his first endeavour into the comic book genre, has done much of the same thing second time around too, presenting a film that has one sole purpose; to entertain. Right from the word go the pace is set and there’s little respite to be offered from there on. While certainly benefiting from not having to concern itself with setting the scene and forming the story – instead picking up where the first picture left off – there is a downside too, as this feels very much like the middle film in a trilogy, lacking it’s own unique identity, without a palpable structure.
While the frivolous, unrelenting nature of the project serves the feature well, it can also be detrimental to proceedings, as sometimes you crave for it to be darker, and more forbidding, and yet whenever we approach more intense territory, Spider-Man throws in a facetious one-liner, taking you out of the scene somewhat. Fortunately, however, the villains ensure the film never becomes too farcical, as Electro is a wonderfully constructed antagonist. He’s so initially endearing and something of an anti-villain, much in the same vein as Elsa is in Frozen – he’s handed these destructive, supernatural abilities, though he’s unable to keep them at bay. He therefore earns our sympathy and becomes more relatable and real – and once that’s the case he instantly feels like more of a threat. That being said, the character is underused and his potential is not fulfilled – mostly the case in the underwhelming final set piece. For a film that’s undoubtedly too long, the ending feels somewhat rushed.
Webb comes into his element as we approach the latter stages, however, as for a film that had been rather light and tongue-in-cheek in parts, when the director intends on triggering an emotional response from the viewer he is triumphant, striking a strong balance between frivolity and sincerity, which is no easy task. His job is made easier by an array of impressive performances, as Garfield shines as our titular protagonist, capturing both the pathetic, weedy elements with the more self-assured, cocky side to his demeanour – the latter being where Tobey Maguire fell short. There is a brilliant chemistry between Garfield and Stone too, so natural and playfully flirtatious, and you can tell they evidently enjoy one another’s company, therefore allowing us to, too. DeHaan ensures we have a clean sweep, with such a cold, callous look behind his eyes, making for a fascinating new addition to the franchise.
Though there are inevitably a few plot inconsistencies and moments where you’re left to scratch your head, seeing as this film is about a man dressed up as a spider, saving people from a scary blue man with electronic powers, you can forgive its fantastical, surrealistic approach. By playing up to such a tone, it makes for a film that’s inherently good fun and a more than worthy trip to the cinema. Ultimately, that’s what truly matters where blockbusters are concerned – making this particular picture something of a success.