Monday, May 5, 2014

Movie Review of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"

After watching the first Amazing Spider-Man, I believed (and mostly hoped) the sequel would be better. I didn't agree with the writers' and director Marc Webb's idea of making Peter Parker this artsy, skateboarder, almost-emo teenager who has good looks and is more of a loner outcast rather than a flat-out awkward geeky nerd; I write this off as the new filmmakers adapting the "Ultimate Spider-Man" comics, which were released in 2000 and re-imagined the entire Spider-Man universe for a more younger, contemporary audience. But I liked the inclusion of Gwen Stacy -- especially since I like Emma Stone. When I heard the news that the sequel would have more of Spidey's villains in it -- namely RhinoElectro and Harry Osborn/Green Goblin -- I became worried because the last time three villains were included in one film (Sam Raimi's 2007 Spider-Man 3), it flat-out sucked!

With much caution, I walked into the theater tonight and bought my ticket for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and I was nowhere near as impressed as I've been by Marvel's other superhero films. People can say what they will about Disney and Marvel teaming up, but it beats the hell out of what Marvel and Sony put out! This film doesn't even stand close to other Marvel films such as Iron ManThe AvengersX-Men: First Class (which I know is from the team of Marvel and 20th Century Fox), or Captain America: Winter Soldier (see Jay's review here), which I loved despite finding one slight hiccup in it.

Fortunately, putting in the three aforementioned villains is not what hindered the plot of this movie so much, but I did find the adaptation of Electro (Jamie Foxx) lacking -- from his cheesy autotuned voice to his horrible reimagining to his Joel Schumacher Batman-film-like origin (just take a pinch of Jim Carrey's obsession as Edward Nygma/Riddler and add a dash of Uma Thurman's origin as Poison Ivy and voila!). Even when Electro gains the ability to materialize out of air, I swear the music playing (written by composer Hans Zimmer) sounds just like the music "Pruit Igoe & Prophesies" by Philip Glass used in the 2009 movie adaptation of Watchmen when Dr. Manhattan (also a blue "energy man") is "born."

Oh, look! An outtake from Zack Snyder's 2009 movie adaptation of Alan Moore's classic comic, Watchmen, with the corporealization of Dr. Manhattan Oh, wait ...
What does work for this film is that classic friendship-turned-sour relationship between Peter (Andrew Garfield) and Harry Osborn, played by the impressive Dane DeHaan, who -- let's face it -- was born to play a villain (he's got that look); check him out in Chronicle! One of my favorite scenes in this film is the short scene between Spidey and Osborn, who is asking Spider-Man for his blood. To me, this is one of the best written and acted scenes in the film and I wish it was just the slightest bit longer.

The other thing done right is the relationship between Peter and Gwen Stacy (Stone). Their chemistry is great (which might have something to do with the fact that they're dating in real life), and the film addresses the expected guilt of Peter's dating Gwen even though he promised her dying father (Denis Leary) he would stay away from her. However, there was one scene at the Oxford University New York office they shared which felt awkward and forced. The best thing the filmmakers did pull off was an inevitable plotline that any Spider-Man fan or reader will know. I don't want to give it away but I will say the way this scene was shot, acted and written was very well-done, and it left me wondering where the filmmakers will take the franchise from here. I also liked the addition of Osborn's assistant Felicia (Felicity Jones), who is most likely a reference to Felicia Hardy -- Black Cat in the comics.

My only quip about the very end is -- I have to admit -- on a personal note. The way Gwen's inspiration is conveyed to Peter takes a bit of a rip-off from the end of my book The Midknight between the protagonist Jesse and his girlfriend Vanessa (which I wrote in 2004, long before this film was written or shot). But, that's neither here nor there about the overall quality of this film. With this film, I stand by what I said about the first Amazing Spider-Man: it's a film that is entertaining, but not all that memorable -- which is a shame for a Spider-Man film! This film merely is. I loved director Marc Webb's 500 Days of Summer, but his adaptations of everyone's favorite web-slinger are nowhere near great superhero territory. However, I am excited by the spin-off of this film, which will focus on six of Spidey's notorious villains from his rogues gallery -- the Sinister Six. Even though I am not a big Marvel fan, I loved reading the Spidey comic when this super-villain team came on the scene (I still own the 6-part "Return of ..." run under Erik Larsen'art)! So when I saw Rhino's exoskeleton, Doctor Octopus' arms, and Vulture's wings, it's safe to say I was definitely on-board with that film, which is the next one to be released. Overall, the film was OK (definitely better than the first) and will suffice anyone jonesing for a superhero film until the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past later this month, but I wouldn't rave about or praise it.

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