Film (2014). Columbia Pictures presents a Marvel Entertainment/Avi Arad/Matt Tolmach production. Directed by Marc Webb. Written by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Jeff Pinkner; story by Kurtzman, Orci, Pinkner, and James Vanderbilt. Cast includes Dane de Haan, Sally Field, Jamie Foxx, Andrew Garfield, Paul Giamatti, Felicity Jones and Emma Stone. 142 minutes. Colour, 3D (converted).
Having broken his promise in The Amazing Spider-Man to keep away from girlfriend Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker exposes her to further peril as his boyhood friend Harry Osborn seeks a cure for his inherited degenerative condition in Spider-Man's blood, with the help of Oscorp-enhanced Villains Electro (Foxx) and the Rhino (Giamatti) under his leadership as the Green Goblin.
Sony's response to the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was to emulate Fox's work on the X-Men Films franchise and spin a local extended universe out of the one Marvel property they still held, with plans for an extended roster of Villains who could carry the franchise in the interstices of the hero's own films, beginning with The Sinister Six (2016) and following with solo vehicles. Oscorp takes on the role played by Stark Industries in the MCU as a farm for fantastic weaponizable Technology; famous faces (Giamatti, Jones) bank famous characters in tiny cameo roles, with long-term squeeze Mary Jane Watson also filmed but abandoned to the cutting-room floor. Garfield and Stone remain considerable assets, if far too old for their characters, and the character continues to inhabit Spider-Man's vertiginous 3D New York to kinetically thrilling effect; but the untidy and indecisive plot, which changed significantly between trailers and release, reconceives the backstory of Peter's parents to weave their absence more closely into Spider-Man's origin story, somewhat at the expense of Peter's ordinariness and the resonant contingency of his promotion to hero-hood. The film plays knowingly throughout with audience familiarity with Gwen Stacy's death as a key moment in comics history, and the cinematic version's freedom to enact, postpone, or nullify that turn in its source, but in other respects it is a notably more conservative Superhero film than contemporary offerings from Marvel and Fox, centring on a tired formula of colourful teamed-up supervillains at a time when other studios were mining deeper in the narrative and science-fictional possibilities of their Comics canons. [NL]
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