Sunday, November 16, 2014

Amazing Spiderman 2 review

    I actually watched this movie awhile ago but found myself at a loss for words. I just couldn't think of an entire review's worth of words to talk about the film. Good or bad.

    Which is damning in itself.

    Amazing Spiderman 2 is a spectacular achievement in design by committee. It's not a bad movie, barring a spectacularly poor decision at the end, but the film is all spectacle. Poor Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone manage to show enough talent throughout that, with better material, they might have created a really memorable Spiderman series.

    As such, this movie feels like a paint-by-the-numbers effort with a hint of desperation. There's plenty to like here but it was all thrown together out of what I suspect was an attempt for existing properties to stay relevant with the Disney Marvel productions.

The leads are so damned adorable together. Even when the movie breaks them up for no damn good reason.
    If I were to describe Amazing Spiderman 2, it seems built from a strategy of combing numerous classic Spiderman issues for their plots and taking as many superficial elements as possible. 1. Spiderman creates his own villain. 2. Spiderman's relationship with the Osbourne family. 3. The Osbourne family's dysfunctional neuroses. 4. Spiderman's relationship with his girlfriend failing due to his superheroic identity. 5. Mad science gone array. 6. Evil corporations doing evil things.

    Much of this feels like a retread of the previous Sam Raimi Spiderman movies. The thing is, they had three movies to build most of the tension for the final movie's climax and Spiderman 3 was widely panned for stuffing the film with too much "stuff." This movie? This movie makes Spiderman 3 feel subdued.

    There's so much going on, there's not enough time to get upset about anything but, by the end of the film, only two or three scenes stand out in the entire film. One, the aforementioned poor decision, is likely to make you feel angry rather than moved. A smarter movie would have realized a plot from 1973 isn't one to replicate in the modern era unchanged.

Electro's concept (crazy Spiderman stalker) is problematic. On the other hand, he's the only character who's actor seems to be having fun with his role.
    Anyway, let me try and explain this movie.


    *Indigo Montoya voice* No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Warning: Spoilers. I'd avoid them but the beginning of the plot seems to be happening from the beginning of the movie until the end.

    Richard Parker, discovered the secret of giving people superhuman abilities. He and his wife were killed by Norman Osbourne's thugs in order to prevent that information from falling into said individual's hands. This is revealed in the movie's first five minutes and occupies an action-sequence wholly unnecessary to the rest of the movie. We switch to Spiderman who has broken up with Gwen Stacy because of his enemies, which don't exist yet, and his attempts to make New York City a better place. Spiderman is really upset about this but gets a pick-me-up from previously unmentioned friend, Harry Osbourne. Harry Osbourne is dying, so he wants Spiderman's blood. Spiderman saves nerdy introvert Max Dillon, who becomes obsessed with him as a result but who turns against him once he gains superpowers. Spiderman discovers his father's research and how it is being misused by Oscorp. Oscorp turns against Harry Osbourne and proceeds to start experimenting on the newly-created Electro. The Rhino becomes involved for an extra-fight scene. Harry becomes evil because Spiderman doesn't seem to understand what "dying" means. Everyone starts punching each other at the climax. Tragedy ensues.

    *breathes out* Whew.

I liked Peter and Harry's friendship. I would have liked three movies of it.
    The weird thing is? None of this is bad. Andrew Garfield is quite entertaining as Spiderman and Peter Parker both. He's endearingly awkward and his lame attempts at humor during combat are the best part of his Spiderman performance. Emma Stone manages to transcend the bit role she's been given to give a memorable and likable performance.

    I even liked Harry Osbourne, even if Dane DeHaan's version is less charming and more skeevy. Jaime Foxx's Electro is exceptionally well-acted with Foxx bringing his A-game but I just didn't care about the character. Spiderman's creepy stalker isn't a character I'm particularly interested in following.

    In conclusion, this movie is a high-production value sugar cookie. It throws a bunch of stuff at the audience in hopes they'll like something. I managed to like plenty but it was all overshadowed by the fact this could have been seven very good movies. There's not an ounce of real human drama in this movie save a one-off about Spiderman's laundry. Everything about Peter and Gwen's relationship to Harry's fear about dying is too artificial to care about.

    Which is a shame.



  1. I am really surprised no Spidey film has used Mysterio as a villain. With Mysterio you can have all the cameos you want because illusions are part of Mysterio's gimmick. Pretty easy to handwave it.

    1. I think it's because Mysterio's powers are usually used to visualize Spiderman's internal turmoil and that's hard to create the illusion of. A fan rumor was Bruce Campbell's various characters were actually Mysterio, though.