Andrew Garfield and Dane DeHaan in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." (Niko Tavernise/Sony Pictures,)Link
Jamie Foxx, left, and Andrew Garfield in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." (Sony Pictures)Link
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." (Sony Pictures)Link
Jamie Foxx in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." (Sony Pictures)Link
Paul Giamatti in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." (Sony Pictures)Link
Andrew Garfield, left, and Paul Giamatti in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." (Sony Pictures)Link
Emma Stone in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." (Sony Pictures)Link
Dane DeHaan takes flight as the Green Goblin in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." (Sony Pictures)Link
Inside a darkened sound mixing stage on Sony’s Culver City lot, Marc Webb, the director of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” labored to balance a sonic cocktail of music, sound effects, background noise and dialogue while, across a massive screen at the front of the room, Electro, the luminescent blue villain played by Jamie Foxx, wreaked havoc on a busy night in Times Square.
“Does it sound sloppy there?” Webb asked editor Pietro Scalia. “How far down can we drop the sound effects and how long can we keep them out? It just feels really busy.”
With just two days left to finalize the movie’s soundtrack, the pair worked alongside a team of roughly a dozen technicians to refine a key sequence in what is expected to be one of the biggest movies of the summer. A reverb effect was added to one line of dialogue; conversation was dialed back to emphasize a plaintive clarinet featured in the score composed by Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer.
“Taking out the chatter in the background is really good,” said Webb, 39, nodding with approval.
By the time Electro flipped an oncoming delivery truck with a blast of light, the sound came charging back, thrumming to commanding life on the massive speakers surrounding the screen.
The sequence is one of several show-stopping set pieces devised by Webb and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner for their upcoming blockbuster, which arrives in North American theaters May 2 after rolling out internationally weeks earlier.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” sees Andrew Garfield’s wall-crawling hero face off against several foes, including Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich, an Eastern Bloc criminal who becomes the Rhino, and Dane DeHaan as Oscorp heir Harry Osborn, who is poised to inherit the mantle of the Green Goblin. (Fans also will interpret the appearance of B.J. Novak as Alistair Smythe as especially meaningful — in comic book lore, the character at one point referred to himself as the Ultimate Spider-Slayer.)
But it’s Jamie Foxx’s Electro, who begins the movie as the meek Oscorp employee Max Dillon, who has the most showstopping moments thanks to his masterful control of the power grid.
The Times Square scene received a great deal of early attention — Sony began teasing it on television and in various trailers as far back as New Year’s Eve, though the full scale of Electro’s destruction has only become clear over time, and as the visual effects were completed. While the $200-million production did film briefly in New York’s tourist hub, most of the sequence was shot on a grand replica set constructed atop a Long Island parking lot over the course of about a month early last year.
“We built a universe that was an enhanced version of Times Square,” Webb said. “We wanted as many lighting mechanisms as we could — really it’s about the worst place on the planet that Electro could show up, Times Square, with all that energy and electricity and light pulsating through the universe. We wanted to give him his home.”
Wisconsin native Webb found his way to the world of superheroes and villains by a somewhat unlikely road — the respected indie director was previously best known for the Los Angeles-set “(500) Days of Summer,” starring Joseph-Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.
“In ‘(500) Days of Summer,’ there weren’t levitating trucks or beings made of electricity — there were, but they got cut,” he deadpanned.
His original Marvel adaptation, which rebooted the franchise that Sam Raimi successfully helmed roughly a decade earlier, turned out to be a blockbuster hit that took in upward of $262 million at the domestic box office, and also earned critical praise, thanks in part to the winning chemistry between English actor Garfield and his costar Emma Stone, who plays Peter’s resourceful gal pal Gwen Stacy.
With so many adversaries out for spider blood, one might assume the director was striving for a darker tone with his second installment. Yet Webb insists that the movie, overall, has a lightness of spirit that captures the joie de vivre of Spider-Man, even as it tests the hero.
“I don’t like the idea of this being known as a darker film, but there are certainly great emotional stakes at work,” Webb said. “We literally wanted to shoot more in the daylight, to explore the lightness of Spider-Man, the humor, the comic-booky kind of wit that he had…. Electro shows up better at night just because of the contrast.”
As the crescendo of devastation echoed out from the sound mixing stage, Webb took a short break and relaxed on a couch in a lobby outside. Dressed in a ballcap and jeans, the youthful filmmaker already has agreed to direct a third Spider-Man film, due out in 2016, though not the fourth movie that Sony has planned (that project is being shepherded for the time being by “Amazing Spider-Man 2” producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach).
After all this time, Webb says he has a real affinity for the character.
“There are times when you’re working at 3 o’clock in the morning and you have no life, and you get kind of cynical. But the reality is, I fall more in love with him [all the time],” Webb said.
“I was driving to work this morning — this sounds absurd but it’s 100% true — and I was dealing with some unrelated personal stuff, and I was like, ‘What would Peter Parker do?’ I really thought about that. I feel kind of embarrassed talking about it.”
– Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex
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