Review: 22 JUMP STREET

What’s harder than coming up with a big screen comedy hit from a TV drama? Coming up with an as-good sequel, of course. But Phil Lord and Chris Miller, still on an amazing-by-anyone’s-standards roll, have done it with 22 JUMP STREET.

Plot? Well, erm... Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are sent undercover to college. For further details, see: 21 JUMP STREET. That this merciless rehashing is one of the largest, most-hammered jokes in the film should go without saying. But it never gets old, and Miller & Lord know it.

It’s still a little early to be naming anything the funniest film of the year yet, but the odds for 22 are good. Main reason? The script. In an age where far too many comic actors are relied upon to ‘bring it’ on the day, here is a screenplay packed (by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman) with well-written, well placed gags operating on sometimes genuinely surprisingly levels and depths (let’s not spoil anything, and leave it at “hell has a soundtrack - pay attention”).

It feels like the most boldly cine-literate comedy in ages: a ‘meet-cute’ scene is a work of genius, but bound to fly over the heads of many. Perhaps the only reason it stays in is because there’s another, all-inclusive joke just seconds away.

Then there’s the more obvious (but no less fun) digs – jibing at the photocopied plot of the first film is the raison d’etre for Nick Offerman’s appearance. That's it, and it's enough - these jokes are worth continuing and expanding; after all college today, like high school today, is not like it used to be. Even gags and ideas that have been done before (homoerotic subtext between buddy cops was done seven years prior by HOT FUZZ, and nearly thirty by the Comic Strip’s THE BULLSHITTERS) are chopped and skewed to fresh angles.

The cast remain outstanding: Hill and Tatum, so good in the first film, fit right back into their roles. Ice Cube’s screen time has been amped up, and he works for every second of it – his ‘buffet’ scene shall forever remain a highlight of 2014. Then there’s the newcomers: Amber Stevens is perhaps a little underserved in the love interest straight role, and Peter Stormare’s bad guy is really only given one joke, but Wyatt Russell makes a good impression as a football player and Schmidt’s ‘love’ rival for Jenko’s ‘bro-ffections’. Making the most of limited screen time though is Jillian Bell (from TV’s Workaholics) as Stevens’ awkward dorm-mate. We’ll be seeing more of her in the next few years, guaranteed. The only one who really gets short-changed, with his grand total of one line, is Jon H. Benjamin (voice of TV’s Archer) – hopefully he’ll be turning up somewhere on the DVD.

If there’s a criticism, it’s pacing: the second act is somewhat bloated, so by the time the third approaches you become aware that there are a lot of balls (and a hand grenade) still in the air – but at least, as so often is the case in action comedies, the jokes don’t dry up.

There’s a pretty amazing confidence on display from all involved here. Lord, Miller and their writers know their fans are by now eating out of their hand (one of the few luxuries a sequel affords is a pre-filtered audience), and they feed them well. The trick is making it seem effortless, when there’s clearly a hell of a lot of work and thought gone into this – but that’s the confidence and judgment four straight hits will give you. Long may it continue – and if the end credits gag is anything to go by, they’ve got that sorted.

22 JUMP STREET is released June 5 in Australia, June 6 in the UK, June 13 in the USA and June 19 in New Zealand.


With the exception of perhaps UPSTREAM COLOUR, Jonathan Glazer has delivered in his third feature (after SEXY BEAST and BIRTH) one of the most polarising movie experiences of recent years - and perhaps many more to come. If you like your science fiction ambiguous, by turns (and sometimes simultaneously) beautiful and creepy, you might see a classic in UNDER THE SKIN. If you find the likes of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH slow, frustrating exercises in aloofness, then give this a wide berth.

Scarlett Johansson plays an alien in human form who lures men to their deaths, seemingly as part of a process to plant more of her species into the entirely unsuspecting human population. She cruises the city streets and country roads of Scotland in an anonymous van, carefully vetting potential victims to make sure they won’t be missed. The mission begins to go awry though when her curiosity for the many facets of the human condition gets the better of her.

Glazer keeps his story’s trail of crumbs so sparse that at times we can barely be sure of what is real and what is imagined, whether what we see is intended to be taken literally or as metaphor; is Johansson’s Laura even really an alien? Or is this an experience in alienation? Raising more questions than it answers serves to further amplify the mood, and rest assured that’s very much the intention. Don’t sit there waiting for a handsome, bespectacled scientist to appear and start filling in the (vast) blanks – just make of the story what you will, and enjoy the trip.

UNDER THE SKIN is released March 14 in the UK, April 4 in the USA and May 29 in Australia.


The comedy western is a peculiar subgenre, fraught with failure and mediocrity. For every BLAZING SADDLES, THREE AMIGOS or SHANGHAI NOON, there’s a dozen  RUSTLER’S RHAPSODYs, LIGHTNING JACKs or WAGONS EASTs, and many others so forgettable they’re quietly put out to straight-to-DVD pasture. You have to wonder then if Universal weren’t initially nervous when Seth McFarlane, riding high on the huge success of TED, tossed a pitch straight at Hollywood's genre Bermuda Triangle. They wouldn’t have been worried for long, of course – even on the page, for all its Ol’ West trimmings, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST never strays too far from McFarlane’s profane, purile and frequently hilarious comfort zone.

Albert Stark (McFarlane) is a man born in the wrong time. It's 1882, and he's a sheep farmer in the Monument Valley territory of America’s ‘wild’ western frontier. He hates his environment and all of the perils that it presents on a daily basis. He’s also severely lacking in self-confidence, especially when he’s dumped by his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) for talking his way out of a gunfight. Even his best friends (Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman) can’t talk him out of his funk when Louise takes up with town moustache tycoon Foy (Neil Patrick Harris), until new stranger in town Anna (Charlize Theron) befriends Albert and turns him into a straight shooter. Things are destined to get rocky though, as she hasn’t mentioned that she’s the reluctant wife of the meanest, deadliest outlaw in the territory, Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson) – and he’s on his way into town...

McFarlane’s most bankable skill has always been with the pen, and he's never short of a gag. This time out though, it’s not all gold – more like panning for gold in a river that a buffalo has recently shat in. When settles for the broadest first-base stuff, the results are anywhere from eye-rolling (an early reliance on the word ‘penis’ being funny in and of itself makes for a worrying start) to chucklesome (a particularly dim sheep). To be completely fair though, on more than one occasion he uses these bunts to build slightly better jokes on further into the film. Once he’s got most of the dick and poo jokes out of his system (so to speak) and finds wittier, more original and less obvious material – a sermon from an utterly corrupt pastor is a great, throwaway touch – he’s on much steadier, funnier ground.

Casting himself in the lead is possibly not as heavy a burden as it sounds: most of his time, McFarlane is simply being himself, and that works just fine – Albert being a man of surprisingly modern outlook and observation is A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST’s core premise/joke. That said, in the few scenes where he drops the postmodern clown façade and has to actually act, he’s genuinely good.

He’s got great support in Charlize Theron, who does a lot better with her down to earth and ‘real girl’ funny scenes with McFarlane than - through no fault of her own - with the thinly written plot-advancement bits, where she has to submit to Clinch’s mean will. It’s great to hear Liam Neeson going ‘full brogue’, and he’s always performed well as an imposing bully. Silverman and Ribisi in particular have to make the best of simply performing variations on the same joke (why spoil it here?), while NPH – always great value – makes a fine coxcomb.

Like TED, there’s nothing particularly flashy about A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST’s direction, but the scenery looks as pretty as it needs to for the jokes pour out in the foreground. Joel McNeely’s score hits all of the right Elmer Bernstein-inspired notes (the opening salvo gives the feeling of an early Ivan Reitman comedy), and McFarlane hasn’t lost his touch for deploying a good pop culture cameo here and there (including a sly, terrific callback to TED from Ribisi). There’s evidence to suggest quite a bit of tuning went on in post-production, so expect a raunchier cut when the film arrives on DVD, but the overall pace both of plot and gag rate are solid.  And make sure you stick around to the very end for one last, so-wrong-it’s-right howler from a special guest.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is released May 29 in Australia and New Zealand; May 30 in the UK and US.


Whichever way you cut it, there’s a lot going on in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. But don’t worry – regardless of how invested you are in Marvel’s ‘X-verse’ you’re pretty much bound to have a good time as long as blockbusters involving people with mutant super powers, time travel and a lot of polyester & tan leather is your idea of a fun couple of hours.

First, the narrative. In 2023, the world is war-ravaged and mutants are hunted by Sentinels – robots with the ability to understand and absorb a mutant’s powers, then fight back and kill the mutant in the most effective way. Only a few mutants remain, but they fortunately include Wolverine, Professor X, a reformed Magneto and Kitty Pryde.

This war is the result of a single action. In 1973, Mystique (blue Jennifer Lawrence) killed Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), inventor of the Sentinels. His assassination convinced the Nixon administration that Trask was right in wanting to wipe out mutants before they could potentially make homo sapiens extinct.

Back in 2023, the mutants’ last hope has Kitty Pryde transporting Wolverine’s mind back into his 1973 body to rally the troops and prevent Mystique from firing that doomed bullet. But of course it’s not going to be easy – at that time, the confused blue nudie shapeshifter didn’t trust either the painkiller-addicted young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) or the misanthropic young Magneto (Michael Fassbender), so it will require a united front to convince her.

There are plenty of other complications and surprises, plus a fair amount of flashing back and forth across that fifty year time gap. In fact there’s so much going on that director Bryan Singer is probably hoping most people won’t notice that the entire time travel conceit is total bollocks (another film for the big Hollywood metaphysics scrapheap). What enables him to get around it is a near-perfect camp/gravitas tonal balance - once that is quickly established, I imagine most of his audience simply won’t care.

This also goes a long way to covering up the sheer amount of stoic exposition required, but with that great cast in that fun setting and the sheer barrage of elements to keep track of, Singer can get most things by his viewers with skilled sleight of hand. As the logic holes pile up in one sleeve, the other deals a string of set pieces – some impressive, some exemplary, thanks to some new mutants - from crazy dimension-tearing action in the future to a playfully approached prison break in the past.

And yes there’s a post-credits sting – right at the end. You might not have a clue what it means yet, but stick around: it’s always worth it to watch some hardcore geeks get excited.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is released May 22 in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and May 23 in the US.


If there are two things you can rely on Italy to do well, it’s food and scenery. Michael Winterbottom’s THE TRIP TO ITALY has both in abundance, along with some important fundamentals of performing a Roger Moore impression.

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon return to the fictionalized characterisations of themselves after 2010’s THE TRIP. The set up is the same – British newspaper The Observer have asked family man with British TV career and compulsive celebrity impressionist Rob to write another series of columns about travelling through Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi, Capri and Sicily, sampling food from select fine restaurants along the way. He invites slightly competitive friend, divorcee and ex-pat now based in Hollywood Steve along for the journey, and they ramble on together.

Once again the pair brilliantly work the semi-improvised set-ups, sparking off of each other as well as they ever have. Beneath all of the barbs and one-upmanship - a sort-of-ODD COUPLE façade - there’s real friendship, and seeing them genuinely make each other laugh are some of the high points of the film (that, and an 'Anthony Hopkins as Bligh in THE BOUNTY' impression on a yacht). There’s just the barest imposition of plot, mostly addressing the crossing trajectories of each character’s personal and professional circumstances (vague, but I’m not about to give away what little actual storyline there is), safe to say that the groundwork has been laid for a third film/series.

Having seen both versions, the six part television series (one region per episode, which equates to an extra hour of material) is probably the more comfortable fit for their story than two straight hours, but seeing those gorgeous views of the Italian countryside is obviously a big tick in the ‘pro’ column for seeing this in cinemas. Or of course, just watch both.

THE TRIP TO ITALY is released April 25 in the UK, and May 29 in Australia.

Review: GODZILLA (2014)

In time for the film series' 60th birthday, GODZILLA is back on the big screen. But is it enough to wipe away the pain of Roland Emmerich’s 1998 shitburger?

This time out, British director Gareth Edwards is at the helm, bringing a pedigree both fine and apt – if short – in 2010’s MONSTERS. In that film, as well as writing, directing and editing, Edwards crucially played a key role in forging the special effects – a skill which obviously bodes well for a movie that you just know is going to end with at least one giant creature leveling an entire city.

After some wonderfully forboding opening credits (redacted documents, 1950s Pacific Ocean nuclear ‘test’ footage with a familiar, serrated spinal fin here, a blurry enormous tail there), we follow scientist of some sort Ken Watanabe and his offsider Sally Potter to the Philippines, investigating the discovery of an enormous skeleton and a large, recently hatched pod with a trail leading towards the coast. Some days later in Japan, a married Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche turn up for work at the local nuclear reactor, just in time for that suspicious noise Cranston has been worried about to cause a critical meltdown.

By 2014, Cranston is going batty, still trying to prove that the ‘accident’ was anything but. He’s arrested by Japanese authorities, so his son Aaron Taylor-Johnson (on leave from his job as a military bomb disposal expert) flies from San Francisco to bail him out. Anyone familiar with Gojira’s ouvre will be able to map the rest of the film from here.

Edwards has a great eye for visual storytelling, and crucially a terrific sense of scope. He and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey know when to go really, really wide with the camera, and their choice of angles in the big finale will feel warmly familiar – the only difference is the budget; we’re a long way from a guy in a foam rubber costume kicking over miniatures. This is big budget mayhem looking its very best.

The homework has obviously been done: the story beats, the delayed reveal of the King of Monsters itself (Toho studios never revealed a gender in their original Japanese language versions, before English dubbing made it a 'he'); keep your eyes peeled for an avalanche of Spielberg homages and nods to the original movies also (yes, there is a young Japanese boy in a red t-shirt and blue baseball cap).

But while GODZILLA (2014) gets everything about its Big Lizard right, it’s the humans that falter. What may seem like simply ‘boring characters’ though, is actually a deeper problem in the writing – there’s very little in the way of inter-character conflict. Once we get past Cranston and his conspiracy theory, that’s about it. There is no villain in this movie under 100 ft. tall – even David Strathairn’s military commander is a very measured individual. Everyone is constantly pulling in the same direction, merely filling in time between (great) set pieces; it’s all so bloody reasonable. It leaves the second act feeling saggy, and strangely craving just a little of the Toho cheese.

One other disappointment: the anti-nuclear subtext of the Toho movies has been diluted into a more general, gentle environmental message. This really doesn’t seem fair to fans of the originals, especially in a post-Fukushima landscape.

But of course those shortcomings take a back seat to what we’re all really waiting for: the final smackdown. On this level it's completely assured, and a pure pleasure to watch the super reptile tear that shit up in fine style, completely worthy of the 1954 original and sure to wipe Emmerich’s abomination out of the collective consciousness.

GODZILLA is released May 15 in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and May 16 in the USA.


There’s so much to like about Belgian filmmaker Felix van Groeningen’s drama THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN, yet it’s rarely an easy watch; so damned sad, but wonderfully so. The story is simple – bluegrass music devotee and performer Didier meets tattoo artist Elise (who turns out to be a talented singer in her own right). They fall in love, and have a daughter, Maybelle. For six years, they share an idyllic life together, until tragedy strikes when Maybelle is diagnosed with cancer. As each of the parents deal with the pain of this experience, some fundamental differences between them emerge, straining their love to breaking point.

Van Groeningen and co-screenwriters Carl Joos and Charlotte Vandermeersch have done an impressive job of adapting the stage play, enhanced by Ruben Impens’ subtle, naturalistic cinematography and two excellent, intimate performances from the leads. Then of course, there’s the music: operating in the same part of the musical spectrum as O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU, beautifully re-appropriated to a fractured narrative of a fractured family. You may ever only want to watch it once, but once will be enough, for all the best reasons.

THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN is released May 15 in Australia.

Review: CHEF

A once hotshot artist made the A-list some time ago, but is now creatively stifled by having to produce safe, crowd-pleasing fodder rather than the bolder, more exciting work he knows he is capable of, and which made his name in the first place.

We could talking about chef Carl Casper, the character at the centre of Jon Favreau’s latest movie CHEF, or we could be talking about Favreau himself, who rose to prominence as the writer and star of SWINGERS but who is most recently remembered for getting swiftly kicked in them after directing COWBOYS & ALIENS. Of course we’re talking about both.

In Casper’s case, he’s been head chef for some years at a high profile L.A. restaurant owned by Riva (Dustin Hoffman). On a night when they have been tipped off that powerful food blogger Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) will be visiting, Casper wants to present something new and bold. Riva wants to ‘play the hits’ – guess who gets their way? Cue: chain of events resulting in public meltdown, humiliation on YouTube, and his firing from the restaurant. Salvation though, presents itself in family, friends, and a food truck…

I can think of few subgenres more difficult to pull off than the ‘Semi-autobiographical “Get Thy Mojo Back” Project’. Put a foot wrong and it’s very easy to end up looking like a narcissistic, self-indulgent wanker. Fortunately Favreau has retained his sharp skills as writer, director and performer to confidently walk this line, so even when Casper’s story does stray into tweeness, he reels us back in with a dose of heady self-deprecation.

The supporting performances are joyful; John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale as Casper’s kitchen lieutenants make a great team, Hoffman’s Riva is given honest and credible reasons for his actions, and Platt’s critic is crucially not just a simple arse, but right. Fellow IRON MAN (directed by Favreau) veterans Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. make the most of their brief screen time, and it’s nice to see Sofia Vergara doing something a little less broad.

As you’d expect, food itself plays a prominent role in CHEF, and unsurprisingly it all looks amazing. That, however - to lovingly light and shoot food preparation – is easy. What’s far more impressive here is the accuracy with which Favreau captures the mood and feel of modern professional cookery not only as an art form, but a lifestyle; sure, there have been many other films to dote as heavily on the process of creating cuisine over the years (let us never forget the omelette scene at the end of BIG NIGHT), but as someone who’s worked a couple of kitchens – albeit in the lowliest of stations – I’ll declare that as far as the day to day life, atmosphere and politics of chefing goes, Favreau gets closer to the real deal than anything in recent memory. He's clearly taken not only the technical but also the anecdotal advice of his off-camera expert advisors to heart, and his knife skills aren’t half bad, either.

So too, it wins at social media. It’s astonishing that it’s taken this long for an accurate, realistic representation of the many uses and pitfalls of twitter, instagram et al. to make it into a mainstream movie, but Favreau folds them pleasingly into CHEF, as part of a plot thread involving his almost-estranged 10 year-old son Percy (Emjay Anthony). Once again Favreau offers up sweetness without transgressing into saccharine – Percy isn’t a mopey, monosyllabic rebel with his face constantly buried in his mobile phone, but initially yearns for his busy Dad’s attention, and is genuinely thrilled to become a valued part of the crew, wholly enjoying the excitement of the food truck as it trundles through some of the greatest food landmarks in the US, loving being treated like an adult as any kid would. Again - it’s sugary, but manages to stay just the right side of sickly courtesy of some salty humour, often involving an on-form Leguizamo.

The only real problem Favreau gives himself is a refusal to really challenge his character – Casper’s fall from grace is fine, but his journey to redemption barely hits a speedbump as his family and friends enable him with convenient coincidences at every turn – my first ex-husband wants to sell you a truck for next to nothing! I know some guys who can make it look brand new overnight! When one character in particular becomes inconvenient they simply disappear, before the story finally goes overboard with a near-diabetic ending it has neither properly set up, nor even remotely earned.

Fortunately that’s not enough to spoil all of CHEF’s prior good work, and we’re left with one of the warmest, most soulful American family films of the year. Of course if you love food and cooking it’s a must, but there’s a lot more besides to savour.

CHEF is released May 8 in Australia and New Zealand, May 9 in the US, and June 25 in the UK.


Craig Monahan is best known for writing and directing his 1998 debut feature THE INTERVIEW, a tough, tense psychological thriller that barely leaves the confines of an interrogation room. HEALING switches genres and moves outdoors more or less, but Monahan is still dealing with trapped men.

Viktor Khadem (Don Hany), an Iranian immigrant living in Australia, is near the end of his long prison sentence. Transferred to low security for recent good behavior but bringing with him a reputation for violence, Viktor is placed under the supervision of progressive prison officer Matt Perry (Hugo Weaving), who places the hot tempered introvert at the centre of a programme caring for wounded birds of prey. Try as he might to avoid it, Viktor must also navigate prison politics involving new youngster Paul (Xavier Samuel), prison big shot Warren (Anthony Hayes), and his ‘dog’ Shane (Mark Leonard Winter).

The metaphor for rehabilitation may be an obvious and simple one, but it serves the story amply, and these moments are HEALING’s greatest strength. The birds are naturally magnificent - especially when they're photographed this lovingly, and their time on screen also allow the human actors their strongest scenes. It’s a shame there aren’t a lot more of them, as the rest of Monahan and co-writer Alison Nisselle’s screenplay is a simplistic and clumsy doling out of prison movie clichés. Weaving is once again fine, bringing whatever subtlety and nuance he can, but Hany struggles to make much of an impression with his stoic leading role when he's given so little, and nearly everyone else (even the brilliant Tony Martin as Perry’s gruff, no-nonsense co-worker) can only try their best with characters sketched from the broadest of brush-strokes. Hayes, normally so strong, gets shortest shrift, coming off about as menacing as a private school bully; only Winter’s Shane has any kind of interesting shading or fresh spin on these familiar tropes.

On one hand it’s hard to get your head around the fact that Monahan and Nisselle spent the best part of a decade getting this story to the screen; on the other, it’s pretty easy to guess why – it probably took a long time to convince financiers a screenplay this underwritten (it feels like a first or second draft), this pat, this ear-bashingly clunky in its exposition could be shaped and finessed to its full potential. As it stands, for the most part this didn't happen. More's the pity, it comes from a filmmaker we know is capable of much more.

HEALING is released May 8 in Australia.


Just when you thought that the lessons of the notoriously overcrowded SPIDER-MAN 3 had been learned, we find ourselves taking a small step backwards in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2.

The bad news: we’re back to too many adversaries cluttering up an already dense storyline. Electro (Jamie Foxx) is the villain on the posters (even getting a “:RISE OF ELECTRO” on the title in Australia), and he’s certainly where most of the budget went. But while he looks fantastic, he’s again fighting for baddie screen time against lesser super-crim Rhino and the emergence of Spidey’s traditional arch nemesis Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan). So we’re once again back to too much going on at once, and not even an attempt at any kind of subtlety to say it. Foxx gets the shortest end of the stick in terms of character development, but there’s more than enough shit being thrown at the exposition fan to cover everyone; the dialogue is chock full of howlers.

It’s also uneven – through no fault of his own, poor Marton Czokas has been directed into a completely different film, and this general wavering of the movie's tone as a whole seems to have stumped the normally unflappable Hans Zimmer, whose score is barely noticeable let alone memorable. The bands on the soundtrack meanwhile, continue to be whatever bland vanilla processed bubblegum nü-rock shite Sony Music feels like foisting onto their partner company’s movie’s end credits to fulfil a contract/see-what-might-stick-but-who-knows-what-kids-like-today-anyway.

The good news: at least some lessons have been learned, and the filmmakers are at least attempting a tiered structure to villain screentime. Electro’s arc is for all its temporal limitations, a very traditional one, while DeHaan  spends most of his time as sickly billionaire Harry Osborne who is only beginning his descent into Goblindom crazytown. Rhino’s presence is as minor as his purpose is simple: to point the series towards to some Sinister Six action forthwith; this instalment may be overcrowded and clumsy, but it’s clearing a lot of space for episodes to come.

The practical stunts and New York locations look great, and the CG effects vary greatly, but are mostly solid (the ramped-down shots are particularly beautiful as you’d expect).

Also, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 continues to get some very important elements right. Most important of all is Peter Parker/Spidey himself. Andrew Garfield now inhabits so confidently and has such an understanding of his character’s appeal – and crucially, the difference in appeal from other comic book superheroes – it’s no exaggeration to suggest he’s the best piece of Marvel casting since Robert Downey Jr. Look at the way Peter constantly moves, and the second-nature of his vertical movement.

Likewise, Emma Stone continues to fit the Gwen Stacy character like a glove, far from any kind of damsel in distress and propelling her story arc with her own proactivity and usefulness.

It’s completely fair to say that the onscreen relationship between these two saves THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2; every time they appear together, the movie soars – all the elements fall into place, and it feels the way a Spider-Man movie ought to. But they’re only on screen together for about half of the movie, and all of the above problems are coming at you thick and fast for the other half. At least the final sequence sends it out on a firmly-footed high – just enough to have us hopeful for parts 3, maybe even 4….