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‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ (Marc Webb, 2014)

I didn’t just dislike Marc Webb’s first Amazing Spider-Man picture but actively protested against its very existence. Even without those inevitable comparisons to Sam Raimi’s trilogy and the commercial imperative that lead so quickly to Sony’s greenlight, it’s a drab, colourless failure with nothing to bring to an audience now familiar with a higher class of comicbook feature. Webb, a minor talent at best, opted for a pale imitation of Raimi’s superior efforts over any sort of fresh take on the character. The result was perhaps the worst superhero film since Fox fluffed Fantastic Four.

This sequel is a small step up, if perverse curiosity and bafflement can be considered an improvement on active hatred. Not to unfairly malign fans but it feels like it’s probably a fair adaptation of a comicbook enjoyed by pre-teens, a pre-X-Men 90s comic picture, sort of the Batman Forever of Spider-Man movies. Forever, a fair comparison if ever there was one, felt similarly messy with superfluous subplots and garish design – maintaining a tenuous enough link to better films to avoid full alienation (and hey, the Bat at least indulges my vigilante power fantasies!), but bloated, openly stupid and seemingly courting the sort of mockery that’ll come from producing such a dim-witted, muddled sequel. I’m already looking back more fondly on Raimi’s third Spidey!

Webb never really figures out what he’s doing in this world, what it is that appeals to him about these characters and why we want to spend further time watching this iteration of the character. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone try hard, but they’re working with sub-Nicholas Sparks material, their innate charm and likeability barely holding the thing together whilst the army of credited screenwriters fail to dish up much worth sticking about for. More annoying still are the Marvel Studios-aping attempts to craft some sort of larger universe for Garfield’s hero, with a thunderously awful ‘wider mythology’ falling into place, soon to be complimented by a number of further sequels and unwarranted spin-offs. The prospect of being bombarded with the bloody things for the next decade is as unappealing as Marvel’s efforts are welcome; the perfect shitty counterpoint to Kevin Feige’s masterful handling of those properties over at Disney/Marvel.

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