Reviewed by Keith Hill
Rated M. Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx. Directed by Marc Webb.
Vying for the award of the longest film title of 2014 is The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro.
Rise of Electro is the second movie in the rebooted Spider-Man series, starring Andrew Garfield as hipster Spidey and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy.
The film sticks to the standard Spider-Man formula – Spidey battles a villain (or three) with superpowers that come about as a result of a freak accident at an Oscorp facility (someone really needs to do an OH&S audit on that place!). At the same time he negotiates teenage relationship dramas and delves deeper into the mystery surrounding the death of his parents.
The main villain in this case is Max Dillon/Electro (Foxx), an electrical engineer at Oscorp. Max is a “nobody”, ignored and walked over by everyone around him, who becomes obsessed with Spider-Man after being saved by him. An accident involving a tank full of electric eels gives Max a blue glow, the ability to control electricity and the attention he has always longed for. Spurred on by Harry Osborn (played by Dane DeHaane), he sets out to destroy Spidey for a perceived betrayal.
The special effects are fantastic. Electro’s ability to control electricity and Spidey’s web-slinging both make the most of the 3D technology, and the slowing down of time as we see things from Spider-Man’s point of view is used for maximum dramatic effect.
Unfortunately, fantastic effects don’t make up for what is lacking in character development for the film’s three villains. The villains are easily the weakest part of the movie – Paul Giamatti hams it up with a terrible Russian accent as Rhino, and the Harry Osborn/Green Goblin storyline has been done to death in the various Spider-Man versions. Too many villains vying for screen time made the film drag a bit in sections, and made it feel like too much time was given to setting up potential plots for the next movie in the franchise, rather than focusing in this one.
The relationship between Peter and Gwen is what really drives the movie. You can feel the tension that Peter feels as he tries to negotiate his feelings for Gwen and still keep the promise he made to her father in the previous movie, The Amazing Spider-Man. Peter knows his crime-fighting lifestyle will ultimately place her in danger, and he is torn between his love for her and his desire to keep her safe and out of harms way.
The main conflict in the film comes from Max’s desire to be known. Jamie Foxx does a great job at the start of the movie enabling us to sympathize with Max, who feels ignored and forgotten by the world and underappreciated by his employers at Oscorp.
We sympathize with Max because that’s often how we feel too. We can sometimes feel alone, ignored and undervalued by the world and the people around us. But despite our feelings, the Bible tells us that we aren’t unknown. Psalm 130:1 says:
O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
We are not “nobody” – we are somebody made and loved by God. He formed each one of us in our mother’s womb. He carefully and lovingly planned out the tiniest detail of each and every day of our lives, from before we were born, and guides every step we take. He knows each one of us by name and he gave his only Son to bring sinners like us into his family.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro has something to keep everyone happy – some great comedic one-liners, plenty of soppy romance and a stack of great action scenes. With several more sequels in this series planned, it will be interesting to see how they manage to keep it feeling fresh, but as this movie shows, there’s no shortage of bad guys lining up to take on Spider-Man. Three and a half stars.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro is released in Australia and the UK this Thursday 17th April, and in the US on Friday 2nd May.