The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Recap of preview footage and Q&A with Marc Webb
Sony was cool enough to screen about 35 minutes of footage for a select number of sites from THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 today to help compliment the new trailer. Director Marc Webb was on hand to introduce the footage (which was predominantly from the first half of the picture) and then take part in a Q&A afterward. Let’s get right to it; I’m going to try to add as much detail as possible, but some of it will be painted in broad strokes.
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW
SEQUENCE ONE: The first scene is essentially a flashback; Richard Parker (Campbell Scott) takes some vials from a lab, says his goodbyes to an adolescent Peter (after dropping him off at Uncle Ben and Aunt May’s) and boards a plane with his wife, Mary (Embeth Davidtz). While aboard the plane, he attempts to upload a file (we never really get a clear idea of the contents, but it’s related to Oscorp). After his wife goes to the bathroom, the co-pilot comes out of the cockpit and makes random small-talk with Richard; Richard notices blood on the man’s hands. A fight ensues. During struggle, Mary is shot and killed, and Richard - knowing he’s doomed - shoots out the window, which sucks the assassin out. Richard finishes uploading the file and the plane crashes.
Title card comes up.
SEQUENCE TWO: Immediately after the title card, we jump into Spider-Man flying through the city. Eventually he hears about a stolen Oscorp truck rampaging through the city; this is driven by Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti), who plows through everything in his way. Spidey catches up with the truck, engaging Aleksei in a brief comical dialogue and is ultimately thrown from the truck.
We are then introduced to Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), a nervous man who walks down the street holding a big box of blueprints. They’re knocked out of his hands and roll into the street - where Max is put directly into the path of Aleksei’s truck. Spidey saves Max and kindly tells the shell-shocked man that he’s his eyes and ears out on the street, a sentiment we can tell Max really takes to heart.
Meanwhile, Gwen Stacy waits patiently for Peter to show up to their graduation - and her valedictorian speech. She calls Peter to find out where he is; at that moment, he’s attached to the front of a police car, obviously unable to talk much. (He says he got caught up in traffic, but he’ll be there in five minutes.) At one point he looks over at a passing police car and imagines briefly that he sees Gwen’s father (Denis Leary) in the passenger seat, but snaps out of it, realizing it’s just another cop.)
Spidey finds himself in the back of the Oscorp truck, juggling about a dozen vials of what looks to be the same serum Richard Parker was handling in the opening scene. Spidey eventually gets it under control, slings a web to house them, and focuses on capturing Aleksei, who he wraps up and humiliates.
Naturally, Peter arrives just in time at his graduation in time to accept his diploma and lay a kiss on Gwen. (Stan Lee sighting here, by the way.)
SEQUENCE THREE: (Webb said beforehand that this sequence takes place some time after Peter and Gwen have broke up) Peter meets up with Gwen in Union Square, where they have a conversation about trying to just be friends. Peter is clearly still in love with Gwen, who drops a bomb on him: she’s moving to England to study at Oxford.
While Peter and Gwen make cute, Max Dillon - now Electro - struggles with his new found transformation. We briefly see things from his POV - energy and electricity is highlighted everywhere he turns. He walks into Times Square and grabs a pipe under a grate, becoming infused with the power. When some cops try to stop him, he gets angry and blows them all away with some kind of electronic wave; he also flips over an entire truck.
Peter’s spidey sense tingles while with Gwen and he makes a quick exit from their emotional encounter.
Electro sees himself on every big screen in Times Square, and says “They See Me,” clearly moved by finally being noticed. (Obviously all Electro really needs is a friend.) Spider-Man arrives to diffuse the situation, but he gets on Electro’s nerves and incurs his wrath, with the villain attempting to drop signs upon him and the police force.
At one point the crowd starts chanting Spider-Man’s name and booing Electro. Enraged, Electro sucks up all of Times Square’s energy and lets out a sonic burst, which basically levels the entire area. (A pretty great effect.) He finds he’s able to levitate and proceeds to shoot bolts of electricity down on the crowd, scattering the people who remain.
Eventually, Spider-Man takes down Electro with the help of a fire hose.
SEQUENCE FOUR: After Electro has been captured and imprisoned inside Oscorp, an intense and slightly crazed Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) shows up to release him, telling him that they can help each other: Both want revenge against Oscorp and Spider-Man. Electro is hesitant at first, but once Harry tells him that he needs him (not unlike when Spider-Man told him the same thing), he agrees. A security team arrives to take Harry away, but he shocks Electro with a taser to give him an extra boost, resulting in Electro quite literally evaporating and disappearing, then shocking the entire security team. Moments later he reappears, made up of pure electricity. He and Harry bond briefly over their mutual loathing of Spider-Man (Electro says “I had a friend once... it didn’t work out”) and decide to go after him.
Now that I’ve exhaustively described the footage as best I can (please excuse any bad grammar, this was a rush to get this down), I can just give you some of my general thoughts on what we saw, as well as some highlights from the Q & A with director Marc Webb.
Here's the highlights:
- Webb said they are in the final stages of completing the 3D work on the film.
-As someone who is not a very big fan of the first AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, this one appears to keep the focus on fun and colorful action. After the footage screened, Marc Webb mentioned that while the first one was indeed somewhat “grounded” (and/or focused on the relationship between Gwen and Peter), he sought to expand the universe of Spider-man here, which he compared to a “dreamworld.” - The 3D seems to be used to much better effect here; that scene where we first meet Spidey flying through the streets of Manhattan is really fun and looks tremendous, and the plane crashing at the very beginning was really excellent.
- Electro is a needy dude. Like, high school girlfriend needy. Almost every line out of him is some form of “you need me?” or “I thought you liked me!” He’s strangely childlike, but also pathetic. I suppose that is a deadly combination when you’ve got superpowers.
- Emma Stone has a really beautiful moment during the scene where she tells Peter she’s moving to England; something about her mixture of happiness and sorrow (she begins to break down while talking to him) is believable and lovely.
- We really did not see much of Paul Giamatti, nothing of him in the Rhino suit, but what we do see of him is very cartoonishly over-the-top; the sequence with him and Spidey is light and almost goofy, while the sequence with Electro in Times Square is decidedly darker.
- The soundtrack situation on the film is really intriguing; Webb described what must have been an incredibly collaborative work environment that included Hans ZImmer, Pharrell, Junkie XL and Johnny Marr (of “The Smiths”). The group of them apparently jammed for well over a week and basically made a record, then incorporated that record into the film’s score. It’s clear Webb is passionate about music in general and wanted to create a soundtrack in a way that’s never been done before.
- During Electro’s big scene in Times Square, Pharrell’s influence is especially felt, with lots of strange rhythmic chanting going on to accentuate Electro’s increasingly insane mindset (he hears things like “they hate you, they want to kill you” etc). I don’t really know how I can describe this peculiar track, but it’s rather unique to say the least.
- It should be noted that the actual Electro design looks really good; I wasn’t sold on initial marketing materials showing off Foxx’s florescent exterior, but it shines (pun intended) on the big screen. Foxx himself is unrecognizable in Electro form and sells the character’s sadness and pent up rage.
- No goods on any of the follow-up films, but he did talk a little about how cool the working environment is for the plotting of the SINISTER SIX, VENOM and future SPIDER-MAN movies. Basically these guys - Roberto Orci and Drew Goddard included - sit around a room and spitball ideas, essentially every movie geek’s dream scenario. (It should be noted that today was the first time it became clear to me that Webb will be heavily involved in all the future Spidey/Sinister Six movies, even if he’s not planning to direct one after ASM3.
All in all, I walk away with a positive feeling about AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. It really does resemble in most ways a literal “comic book movie”, with all of the emotions laid out raw and the action and spectacle over-the-top. In other words, no, they did not go all dark and gritty with their sequel, instead increasing the heightened reality of the SPIDER-MAN world. I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing more.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 opens on May 2, 2014.
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