Spoiler-Free Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
2014/05/06 2 Comments
As ultimately forgettable as the first Amazing Spider-Man movie was, I do appreciate the fact that it stuck closely to certain aspects of the main Spidey universe. Peter Parker tinkering away in his basement working on things besides flashy spider-themed spandex, mechanical web-shooters, Gwen Stacy in all her thigh-high-wardrobey-goodness (I actually don’t know how canon that is, but it does fit her character at least aesthetically)… Sure it had its problems, but as a whole, it was inoffensive and certainly wasn’t a disaster.
My opinion remains with its sequel.
With all the hype leading up to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there was certainly some fear that it would become the new Spider-Man 3. With teasers showing off The Rhino, Electro, and the Green Goblin, it’s no surprise that people were anticipating the movie suffer from too many chefs (villains?) in the kitchen. Thankfully, this most prominent preemptive fear was put to rest upon seeing the movie. While each villain didn’t necessarily share an equal amount of screen time, they did take up as much time as was necessary for them to progress the plot forward in some way or another.
And speaking of plot…
For the most part, the plot to superhero movies can be summed up as “villain is doing something villainous, so the hero has to stop said villain.” With ASM2, however, things aren’t that cut and dry. Now, we’re not getting Watchmen-levels of deep and discussing morality and what exactly defines good and evil. But we do have a meager nobody in Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon that stumbles into his powers (not unlike the titular hero) and ends up letting things snowball from bad to worse, thanks to such a small misunderstanding.
Further parallels to Peter Parker are drawn up with Harry Osborn, an old friend back from boarding school. Dane DeHaan (Harry) and Andrew Garfield (Peter) both have such similar mannerisms and speaking patterns that it must have been intentional for the two to be cast together. You can really get a taste of their camaraderie when the two share the screen, and it makes things that much worse when well… things happen.
Moving on from bromance to romance, you have the rocky relationship that is Gwen and Peter. Literally haunted by the ghost of his girlfriend’s father, Peter continues to be at odds as to whether or not he should continue to be with her. And while their relationship is captivating, a noticeably large chunk of the movie was dedicated to their adorably awkward back-and-forths, to the point that I thought I was watching a date movie. Then again, considering the movie’s finale, it such a large time investment does seem justified, if only upon watching to completion.
On the topic of dialogue, ASM2 continues the previous movie’s levels of awkwardness, which I remain unsure of whether or not it was a conscious decision. Plenty of scenes throughout the movie start off feeling rather grim, with tensions building, only to be immediately deflated as Andrew Garfield mumbles and stutters something in his best American accent (which I have to say sounds very similar to Michael J Fox. Seriously, comment if you agree). That isn’t to say that the dialogue is poorly written. On the contrary, building up the drama only to punctuate it with humor seems very Spider-Man-like, but it does make the general tone of scenes feel unclear.
The cheesiness levels also seem to have increased for this sequel, if only slightly. It doesn’t happen to often, but every now and then a character will give one quip too many, or say something that seems just a bit too exposition-like. Top this off with Electro’s final outfit that he acquires from nowhere (it’s essentially the black outfits in the live-action X-Men movies… but with lightning bolts imprinted on his shoulders) and I am only further confused by the tone the movie is trying to set. Having said that, I’m suddenly reminded of Batman Returns, complete with all of Tim Burton’s Tim-Burtonness.
Oh right, didn’t I say I was gonna talk about the plot?
It would be impossible to talk about any superhero movie without comparing it to the Marvel-line of interconnected movies. What makes those Marvel movies interesting is that you’re able to enjoy each movie individually, as well as as a whole. Each movie clearly works as a standalone as well as part of something greater. And while I applaud the created team involved with this current Spider-Man movie franchise for their attempt to create a story that spans several movies… the problem is that it spans several movies.
When the ASM movies first started, audiences were pulled in with tag lines that hinted at the backstory of Peter Parker’s parents. What resulted was a movie 1 that barely touched on the subject, and a movie 2 that clearly feels like it’s holding back for the sake of future sequels and spinoffs. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily (Hollywood’s gotta milk the superhero market for as long as possible), but it does result in movies that seem a bit thinly spread, story-wise. At its best, stories with multiple plot threads make you feel like each plot thread is happening all at once with the intention of eventually crashing into each other come the finale. But in the case of ASM2, plot threads felt like they were presented, then immediately shelved as a new plot thread was presented to the audience. Rather than juggling a whole slew of plot points, it felt like the points were tossed into the air one at a time. You’re never given the feeling that everything is happening all at once and thus you’re not really given all that big a sense of urgency. In that sense, it felt like the story meandered, even with everything the movie was able to present.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was by no means a flop, and it certainly was an entertaining movie, though I will say that I hope for a better handling of the over-arching plot(s?). With talk of future sequels as well as villain-centric movie spinoffs, it’s the least they should get down.