Peter Parker and his alter ego have a lot on their plate. Besides saving New York City, sometimes from itself, Spider-Man has to defeat three bad guys while Parker struggles with the on-off romantic relationship with Gwen Stacy.
This year, Spider-Man has yet another task: kicking off the summer movie season in his latest big-screen adventure, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” swinging into theaters Friday.
“I think what we tried to embrace from the outset was a bombastic, fun, entertaining Spider-Man, which is part of that character,” said director Marc Webb. “At the beginning of the movie, he's having a lot of fun being Spider-Man. He thinks he can have it all, and there's a joy to that.”
Webb, for the most part, successfully rebooted Sony's cash cow in 2012, a mere decade after director Sam Raimi's 2002 “Spider-Man” starring Tobey Maguire initiated it. Webb is back for the second installment of the latest spin on the web-crawler's story with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone returning as Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy.
This time around, Spidey has two new villains to take on: the behemoth Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and supercharged supervillain Max “Electro” Dillon (Jamie Foxx). Returning is Harry Osborn/Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan).
Foxx “is a really special kind of actor who can do the goofy, playful theatricality that I wanted him to embrace in the villain, but can also give the emotional theatricality and the gravitas that makes the character have a beating heart,” Webb said. “Dane is a surprisingly funny actor. He's got the cinematic quality ... you can't just look away. He's also very funny and very thoughtful as an actor.”
“You can't just cast actors — you have to cast dynamics and chemistry,” Webb added.
For special effects, Webb reteamed with the first film's special effects supervisor Jerome Chen, who was Oscar-nominated for his visual effects on “Stuart Little” in 1999. Chen now has moved on to oversee effects as grand as the giant Rhino in this movie.
“There was a level of collaboration between me and Marc that was highly developed at this point, but the challenges were very different,” Chen said. “The scope was much bigger than the last Spider-Man. There are three villains in this one, and each one required different visual effects.”
Giamatti's Rhino is encased in a metal armor that can launch rockets. Electro's neon blue body sparkles and surges with electricity that he can shoot from his hands. DeHaan zips in and out and up and down the frame on the Green Goblin's signature glider. Spider-Man and Stacy swing through the air together using Spider-Man's webbing.
Such complex scenes required digital composites of the characters and the stage in which the action took place.
“All those things required lot of visual effects,” Chen said. “The action sequences that involved those characters were choreographed to be on a huge scale, which involved not just the characters, but the entire environment.
“This project had the highest level of detail incorporated into digital environments that we'd ever done,” he added. “The human characters were finished to a very high degree. We had to do a very realistic version of Emma Stone. Spider-Man and Gwen are involved in stunts that would have been very dangerous if real.”
The last time a Spider-Man movie featured so many villains was “Spider-Man 3” in 2007, which ended Raimi's franchise with scorn and disappointment from fanboys and critics alike for its too-many plotlines. Early word from “The Amazing Spider-Man 2's” early release overseas suggests the audiences are more receptive to the multiple story strands in Webb's movie.
“We were very careful that each of these villains was revealing something specific about Spider-Man, about Peter Parker, which is the job of every villain, if you look underneath the surface of these movies,” Webb said. “There's a dramatic rationale for what we're trying to do that was very specific and carefully plotted out.”
Webb is directing the next installment in the planned four-movie Spider-Man saga; it is due out in June 2016. He said all that's certain now with that movie is that Peter Parker is going to have to learn to love again after the events that transpire in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Webb also said he wants to give more of what he provided his first two Spider-Man movies with: spectacle.
“It's about creating that feeling that I had reading the comic books,” Webb said. “Between panels, I would sit back on my pillow and daydream what it was like to be Spider-Man.”
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