Sunday, May 4, 2014
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Dir. Marc Webb
The summer season is officially upon us, and you know what that means: copious amounts of super-powered men in tights. And kicking things off is your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, slinging his way into his fifth big screen adventure in only 12 years. This sequel to Marc Webb's reboot of the franchise also happens to be the worst-rated Spider-Man film on Rotten Tomatoes, and currently looking at a slightly lower box office intake than all the other films - even with the added 3D and IMAX surcharges factored in. But I like to keep an open mind about stuff, and I'm a big fan of Spidey (he's my favorite superhero right under Batman), so I really was hoping this movie could pull its shit together and fix the problems of the first one. In the end though, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is about as "amazing" as a meal at Buffalo Wild Wings. It's good enough to not starve, but it will still leave you feeling empty and disappointed by the end of it.
Let's start out with the positives, because I'm just such a nice guy. Although I'm partial to Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield makes for a pretty good Spider-Man. The first action scene with Spider-Man fighting the "Rhino" (Paul Giamatti) was really well done and filled with Spidey's trademark quips and fantastic CGI (the way the SFX people added fabric-looking detail to the suit while zipping through the air was as astonishingly specific to me as the T-Rex's eye dilating in Jurassic Park). Garfield's chemistry with Emma Stone is pretty much the best aspect of the film and I bought their starry-eyed romance - though if Garfield wasn't so hot some of his lines could come off as "stalker-y"(if some random shlub had told Emma Stone that he'd "followed her from work," I'm pretty sure she'd spritz his eyes with pepper spray). Webb's history with young romance movies really shines in the dialogue scenes between them, and Gwen Stacy's story arc is the only one that pays off by the end. Also, Sally Field KILLS it as Aunt May. And I really enjoyed Hans Zimmer's score, who in my mind can never do wrong - particularly Electro's theme, which incorporated some heavy electronic "wonging," I guess you'd call it.
Aaaand, the compliments sort of end there. The villains, though not as soul-crushingly generic as the first Amazing Spider-Man, were still poorly written rush-jobs that felt like they were created solely to set up future films. This is such a drag too, because I love all the actors involved. First off: Electro was just terrible. Now, I love Jamie Foxx, but I'm not kidding when I say it was WORSE than Mr. Freeze from Batman and Robin (he kind of looks like him too). His character was way too comic book-y for this "darker" reboot universe, and his motivation - simply that no one knows him and he wants to be recognized - is absolutely lazy writing. He goes from a Spider-Man devotee, complete with dedicated wall collage, to wanting to KILL him just because he forgot his name. Dane DeHaan, with no surprise to those who've watched the trailer, plays Harry "Green Goblin" Osbourne, and his storyline also feels incredibly rushed and "convenient." The Raimi films nicely built up Peter's friendship with Harry, but in this film we get only one major scene of the two together before Harry goes "evil," so the stakes don't feel high at all. I enjoyed DeHaan in both Chronicle and The Place Beyond the Pines, but here he did not fit the role - he just seemed too boyish to be the powerful heir of a company.
I really, truly wanted to root for this movie, but it's so hard to ignore that this feels like another cash-grab from Sony. They are under a contractual obligation to churn out these Spider-Man flicks in order to keep the rights to the property, so they just keep fast-tracking all these villains' back stories to establish their eventual "Sinister Six" project, which is a clear attempt at repeating the success of The Avengers (the difference being that Marvel's slow-but-sure universe-building was ridiculously well calculated). All this pointless garbage about Peter Parker's parents and Oscorp is meaningless because it doesn't have time to breathe. I'm extremely weary of the upcoming Batman vs. Superman for this exact reason: the countless new cast additions like Wonder Woman and Cyborg...isn't two of the most iconic superheroes in one movie enough?
Anyway, I could rant for hours, but honestly, AMS2 isn't as painfully shitty as the first one. It has some truly kick-ass action set pieces (the Times Square slow-mo battle and the "clock tower" sequences were especially well handled), and the teen drama between Gwen and Peter was well captured by Webb - but it still kind of represents everything I hate about the Hollywood movie system.