Spoiler-Free Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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.

ASM2 poster Read more of this post

Accent on “Amazing” — The Amazing Spider-Man Movie Review

The most anticipated movie for me this year would hands down have to be The Amazing Spider-Man. Sure, it doesn’t build off of the backstories built by multiple earlier released movies like The Avengers did, but its beginnings had just as much buildup and hype—mainly from the fact that they were re-starting the movie franchise from the beginning a mere five years after the last movie’s installment (the horrendous, horrendous Spider-Man 3).

Before the review, some pre-movie notes: 1) Nickelodeon apparently dipping their toes into the PG-13 realm is bad for everyone involved (seriously, not one, but two humping jokes in the same trailer?); 2) a polite “screw you” to the theater people for running out of ticket paper material and nulling out the supposed quickness of having fandango tickets sent to my smart phone (which just snowballed into more crap ultimately resulting in me getting a free movie voucher for putting up with all this). Anyways…

A major beef people had with this movie before it even came out was the fact that it was a reboot. Now, people wouldn’t have such a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the Spider-Man mythos has been told so many times that even my parents get the gist of his origin story by now. That said, the movie actually does a good job of making sure a majority of the origin story isn’t treading the same ground that the Raimi’s Spider-Man movie did, giving things a more modern take (Flash’s bully scenes in Raimi’s film scream early 2000’s), altering them somewhat (the conflict leading to Uncle Ben’s expected death is significantly different), or making something new altogether (the whole dealie with Peter’s parents). The results make for a lot to handle in just a single movie, but as a whole, things are delivered efficiently enough.

Contrary to all the rumblings building up before the premier, Peter Parker’s character pre-spider-powers is not an emo douchebag. The film does an exceptional job at the start establishing his position in the brutal hierarchy that is high school in a number of scenes without coming off as too redundant. Parker is a nerd, but one without friends that is still willing to stand up for what’s right even though he doesn’t have the power to really do so.

His family life is a bit different. Since the movie has taken the route of weaving in his parent’s story with his origin story, you’re given a significant amount of screen time explaining his parents and how they relate to events unfolding in the present. This would be fine, but it does result in Parker’s Aunt and Uncle getting less screen time. And while this didn’t hurt Uncle Ben’s scenes, Aunt May was noticeably affected. While it isn’t said outright, Peter’s late-night patrols as Spidey seem like shady gang-related activity to people who wouldn’t know any better. Having her nephew come home late at night with bruises on his face and insisting everything is alright must be getting to Aunt May on the inside, so it’s a shame that we’re only shown a small scene building up her thoughts on the matter. If anything, there’s the one bit problem I had in this movie: sacrifice of some characters in favor of others. Speaking of which…

The interactions with the Stacys (Gwen and her dad, in particular) gave an interesting take on outsiders looking in on Spidey’s life that the Raimi films didn’t really have (at least not in this form).

Gwen starts off as a simple classmate of Peter’s but is able to develop into a love interest without falling into the generic pitfalls that MJ’s character had in the Raimi films. She’s a smart character (insisting she’s smarter than Pete on one occasion) and clearly makes the best use of her smarts when she’s in a pinch. Add to this the awesomely quirky chemistry between her and Pete and you have a love story you can root for that doesn’t hinder the plot any. It helps that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are crazy endearing as their characters and as actors in general.

As for her father, Captain Stacy, I was surprised that they went out of their way to flesh out his character as much as they did. Like all cops in superhero movies, he sees Spider-Man as a vigilante that’s taking the law into his own hands. He sends his men out to capture Spidey any chance he gets, and it almost reaches the point that if it weren’t for the Lizard being in this movie, you’d think the Captain was the main villain. Such a premise could have fallen flat on its head had it not been given the attention it needed. Thankfully that’s not the case this time around.

One thing I noticed throughout the entire movie is that the name “Spider-Man” is rarely said out loud. Over the course of the plot, you see Peter begin to grow into his role as a hero, initially taking on the Spider-Man persona as a means to get revenge on his uncle’s killer, taking down any crook in hopes that he’s the one that took his uncle away from him. It actually isn’t until well into the movie does Parker perform such a selfless heroic act. The buildup towards it makes the payoff worthwhile, and Spidey’s little quips every now and then at the baddies and police are a welcome addition.

As a little sidenote, I’m also glad to say that the new Spider-Man movie suit is nowhere near as distracting as promotional images suggested they’d be. With the amount of debris and running he does, you’d never even notice any changes to his design were done outside of his gloves and self-designed web-shooters.

And what’s a superhero movie without a superhero villain? Doc Connors worked alongside Peter’s dad back in the day, both receiving considerable heat from their colleagues for going into realms of science that were mainly considered possible only in monster movies (or in this case, comic books). His connection with the Parkers and Peter’s later involvement in the creation of the Lizard makes things more “personal,” but in the end his actions come off more as someone trapped under the foot of a superior rather than someone that’s a full-fledged villain in his own right. Though, considering the heavy amount of foreshadowing with Norman Osborne, I guess this is understandable (btw, stay during the first couple seconds of the end credits for some additional sequel seed-planting).

Lastly, while Amazing goes out of its way to separate itself from the Raimi films, it does share in the previous movies’ interest in working class heroes. From what I’ve heard, New York has an unreal pride in Spider-Man—probably the most pride you’ll get out of Americans towards a fictional character, even going as far as having actual celebrations in his name whenever a Spidey movie comes out (must have been awkward when Spidey 3 came out). As such, the films seem to tip their hat off toward New York and its patrons by giving some screen time towards the every-day man in the form of a scene or two where ordinary citizens help Spidey rather than vice versa. While it’s a nice gesture and it does fit in with the rest of the plot, I will say that for this film, it slowed down the action somewhat, which could be problematic considering that time was a factor by that point in the film.

Still, at the end of the day, Spider-Man remains one of the best representations of the common man faced with taking on unreal responsibilities. And it’s this simple connection that makes him and this movie so enjoyable.

The Amazing Spider-Man Trailer 2 Dissection

I just had to.

Trailer No. 2 for The Amazing Spider-Man’s out and boy howdy, did it deliver. While the first trailer was an awkward mix of old (okay, spider bite makes you Spidey… we get it) and new (Pete’s parents, ah-whaaa?), trailer 2 focuses more on everything that sets this reboot apart from the Raimi films that will (hopefully) lead to a good movie overall that doesn’t have to rely on the same tricks that its predecessors did.

I don’t know much about the Stacys except well… they die. Or at least Gwen and her dad do. The question on most Spidey fans’ minds now is when. Would the Goblin show up in the sequel and kill them then? Would they die in some completely unrelated-to-the-comics fashion in this first movie? Are they even gonna die at all?

Honestly, with Uncle Ben’s death practically guaranteed for this movie, I feel like that alone is enough supporting cast deaths for one single movie. Save the death of the Stacys for the sequel and give the story the respect it deserves.

Quick shot is quick.

Really digged Pete actually doing experiments in the basement that is his nerd cave. We didn’t get much of that in the Raimi films, since he’s sent off to college midway through the first film, so it’s a nice change of scenery. Sure, we’d get bits of nerdiness through Tobey Maguire’s overall performance, but the image of Pete the shutin nerd was never really driven home for me. This, I like.

This is fine, I guess. When retelling Spidey’s origin, it’s just unavoidable that there’ll be times where you’ll be like “yeah, I’ve seen this already.” Let’s just hope Marc Webb’s aware of this and tries to cut down the number of times it happens.

Additional sidenote: Having just watched the first Spidey movie for the sake of crazy fan blogger comparisons, just when did the media’s depiction of bullies change from overly gelled guidos to the shaved look? Just wondering.

This, iunno about. While it’s interesting that they’re using this spidey logo as a means of quirky advertising for the movie itself, I don’t really see how it’d fit into the actual story. Leaving “Friendly Neighborhood” notes is one thing… heck, even the little Spidey-logo light I’ll accept, but this… it just feels like painting it would be a lot more trouble than it’s worth. I mean, isn’t making the suit from scratch already enough arts and crafts for your proverbial plate?

You seriously think I’m a cop? In a skin-tight red-and-blue suit?


Sure, Tobey’s take on Spidey had an occasional quip or two, but this is really what the fans have been waiting for: full on wordy quippage that’d burst the word bubble if it were put in comic form. Really like the tone in Garfield’s voice when he delivers it, too. It gives off a Michael J. Fox kind of vibe (my personal no. 2 choice for Spidey VA in the case that Josh Keaton couldn’t be contacted) that just makes me smile.

Oh, the web shooters. While I do enjoy that they’re sticking closer to the comics by going for mechanical shooters over organic ones, I will say that their design leaves something to be desired. By the looks of things, they flash whenever Pete fires a shot, which seems more like something a Mattel toy would do than something a high schooler would even consider.

… do like the webbing, though. Looks like they’re really bringing home the fact that this stuff is sturdy. You get more of a mini harpoon sound rather than the standard kinda-squirty-kinda-thwippy sound that’s been in previous Spidey incarnations, but it works.

… pretty much the one thing that’ll make fans of the old movies and comics alike bite: the parents. Getting to actually have some kind of backstory on the Parkers that hopefully doesn’t have any clones in it is enough to pique anyone’s Spidey interests, really. From the looks of things, the Parkers (or at least Pete’s dad) were working for OsCorp, which leads to my next cap:

OsCorp has been all over any and all media relating to the movie, and yet the film’s baddie is the Lizard? I get that you have to work your way up to bigger villains, but to give blatant hints at a bigger picture is just being a tease. If anything, I’d think talk of the Parker’s backstory would lead to Venom a la the Ultimate comics line did, but to have the Lizard?

On top of that, we’re unsurprisingly enough treated to only extreme close-ups and shadowy shots of the film’s baddie even though his actual look’s been leaked via toy-related tie-ins. Thoughts on his look: meh. Though the same goes for my thoughts on Spidey’s new (read: phallic) suit, too, so… yeah. Phallic.

Gonna undo that last comment with a shot of some smart stuff.

I feel like it’s always been a problem in movies to convince the audience that smart stuff is actually well… smart. Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight, someone’s putting their cure to cancer on hold to disprove whatever’s on that chalkboard and posting it on their LiveJournal.

Okay, I know the whole “mehr, you’re just a vigilante” shtick’s been done in Batman, Ninja Turtles and I’m sure a million other super-hero titles, but I like it… especially for Spider-Man.

While there were a handful of times in the first Raimi film where Spidey’s gotten some thumbs down from the general public, you were never really given the impression that Spidey was actually bothered by it or that it was even a big enough issue to really care about.

Here, it matters.

Not only is Pete in high-school—a time in your life where general approval from the public is your driving force—but you’ve also got Captain Stacy behind all the cop disapproval who y’know, just happens to be the dad of the film’s leading lady:

Yeah, go watch this movie.

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