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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RISE OF ELECTRO, THE (3D)

SYNOPSIS:
It's great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there's no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realise that all of his enemies have one thing in common: OsCorp.

Review by Louise Keller:
As a comic book visual spectacle, this sequel excels with its amazing digital effects, sense of free-fall and flippant humour. Like the original 2012 film, director Marc Webb exhibits a great sense of freedom, allowing us to feel as though we are flying with Spider-Man as he leaps, flies and swings between New York's skyscrapers, as he brings hope to the flawed world. But so intent are the filmmakers to dazzle with the extraordinary stunts and visuals that (beyond its excessive length) the film fails on one major score - the emotional. It's not for lack of trying on the part of Andrew Garfield as the tormented Peter Parker, desperate to discover the truth about his parents, or by the luminous Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, Peter's true love. The film's dynamic lies with the big, bigger and biggest special effects, leaving the emotional arc wanting.

The film comes into its own in the second half (the first half drags), and I question the screenwriters' decision to begin the film with a flashback involving Peter's parents. The fact that the screenplay is credited to three writers as well as an additional credit for the storyline may give a clue as to the complexity of the film's structure. The basic plot involving genetic research, self-healing, biological weapons and energy supply is complicated - just like Peter and Gwen's on-off relationship.

We are given not one but two villains and both Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan deliver, albeit in very different ways. When we first meet Foxx as Max Dillon, the insecure self-apologetic designer of OsCorp Industries, he is rather pathetic. As the monstrous Electro, an oversized creature that looks a little like pale blue jello with prominent veins, spewing electric currents and sucking up New York's power supply, he is a wonderful comic book creation. DeHaan, with his striking features, offers a tragic creepiness and the scene when DeHaan (as Harry Osborn) tells Electro (strapped up to a giant metal contraption in the insane asylum) that he needs him, is the closest we get to an emotional connection. There is little chemistry between Garfield and Stone, despite many endearing situations.

There is plenty of action - cars flipping, trucks crashing, buildings collapsing, glass shattering and electricity zigzagging in every direction. All in 3D, of course. The editing is fast and much of the action is in your face. It seems churlish to say it gets boring after a while, but I would have to say that despite the technical gee-whizzery, things become repetitive. Had the film's long first half been severely chopped, the dynamic might have worked to better advantage. The young male target audience won't mind, but you know what they say about too much of a good thing.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The charm of a regular guy doing good deeds and all kinds of heroic stuff, identity hidden under a superhero outfit, hasn't survived. Spider-Man combines all the prowess of Batman and Superman as well as Spidey so he can leap tall buildings, fly like a plane and stop taxis hurtling through the air with his bare hands ... well, gloved hands. The fact that he's indestructible works against the normal dramatic tension of the hero's journey.

Whether consciously or not, the screenplay compensates for this by putting the hero at risk of something else: a broken heart. This is where the film's own heart beats, too, using the romance not just as respite from the breathtaking action, but as the essence of what we are emoting, since we know instinctively that Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) will always outwit and out fight his opponents. He must; this is Marvel territory. But will he get the girl?

Director Marc Webb also handled the previous, the first Amazing, and here he allows pantomime to take over, with everything overdone, overstated, bloated and ridiculous. Emma Stone remains a credible anchor for our emotions, playing Gwen as the loving and sincere girlfriend who is determined to make her own choices, as a modern woman does.

Andrew Garfield is effective as the troubled, torn, conflicted and ultimately gentle superhero, able to swing from action figure to tender white knight at will. Sally Field is wonderfully moving as his Aunt May and the talented Dane DeHann is heartbreaking as his old friend - until he is urged to join the hams in the final act.

As for Jamie Foxx as the electrified baddie, Electro, he lets the special effects make up do the acting, in what is a violent and overstated metaphor for all the marginalised and ignored misfits in society who end up as psychopaths.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RISE OF ELECTRO, THE (3D) (M)
(US, 2014)

CAST: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore, Sally Field

PRODUCER: Avi Arad, Matthew Tolmach

DIRECTOR: Marc Webb

SCRIPT: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner (Marvel comic by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daniel Mindel

EDITOR: Elliot Graham, Pietro Scalia

MUSIC: Hans Zimmer, Pharell Williams

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Friedberg

RUNNING TIME: 142 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 17, 2014







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