Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - The Inferior Spider-Man

As far as Spider-Man films go, I was not very impressed with the first film in the reboot of the series, The Amazing Spider-Man, mainly due to the quality of the writing. While I was unsure whether to watch the sequel, the subject of this review, I decided to do so anyway in order to stay current (this being my sole reason for watching Green Lantern or Man of Steel in the first place), watching the first film in the reboot again beforehand to aid with continuity. I wasn’t really expecting much, given my opinion of the previous movie, though after seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I walked away a bit more disappointed than I already thought I would.

As the first movie opened with a flashback of Peter Parker’s childhood, this movie opens with another flashback, with the events told from Richard Parker’s (Campbell Scott) perspective, as he and his wife Mary (Embeth Davidtz) leave Peter (Max Charles) at a young age. While the two are on a plane, which ends up getting hijacked, Richard tries to upload files from his laptop to a location known as “Roosevelt”; as Richard tries to fight off the hijacker, he eventually succeeds, only for the plane to crash into the ocean just as the files are finished uploading. In present day New York, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), as Spider-Man, tries to stop a Russian mobster named Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) from stealing an OsCorp truck carrying plutonium, while assuring Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) over the phone that he will make it in time for his high school graduation. Though Peter is successful in stopping the mobster and makes it to his graduation, he keeps thinking about Police Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary) whenever he gets close to Gwen, remembering a promise he made to keep away from her.

The plot of this movie, to put it bluntly, has some issues. Without going into detail, since the movie is still in theaters, the story itself is riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies that are never filled in or explained (the least of which is the sudden costume change on Spider-Man between films, which goes unexplained). Granted, there is some chemistry between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, though not very much, which is more than I can say with Peter and some of the other characters in the movie. The movie has a total of three villains in it (as seen in advertisements), the most major of which is Electro (Jamie Foxx), however none of them are handled very well (explaining this would create major spoilers for those that have yet to see the movie); I can also see why movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which excludes The Amazing Spider-Man for those keeping track) try to avoid having a hero or villain name themselves (real names like Thor aside), since when two of them do so in this film, it comes off as sounding rather silly. Also, if you were looking for resolution on Peter finding Uncle Ben’s killer in the first reboot movie, you’re out of luck. In addition, while Spider-Man evidently has some wit to his one-liners, rather than being funny, he comes off to me as more of a smartass, though I’m sure someone finds more humor in them than I did.

Electro (or Dr. Manhattan in Cole McGrath cosplay)

On the upside, I will admit to liking some of the special effects, particularly when it involved advanced technology. I also thought the score, this time by Hans Zimmer and The Magnificent Six, was pretty good in setting a tone for each scene. (Also, I admit to actually laughing at one particular exchange closer to the end.) However, these aspects alone aren’t enough to counter the movie’s bad writing, so they don’t really save it.

One thing that I think is worth mentioning is the credits, mainly in that they are unexpectedly inter-

Watch for our review of (500) Days of Summer!

-rupted by a preview of the upcoming (at the time of this writing) X-Men: Days of Future Past. Sure, it’s another movie based on a Marvel property (that also is not part of the MCU), but what really makes it confusing is that it’s a movie from 20th Century Fox, a rival company to Sony. I learned later that this happened due to a deal Director Marc Webb had with Fox, creating a conflict between Webb directing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and a (500) Days of Summer sequel; in the end, Fox let Webb direct a Spider-Man movie for Sony, but in exchange Sony had to slip in free advertising for their upcoming X-Men movie. Even with this explanation, it's still kind of bothering since the X-Men scene is now officially part of the credits.

In the end, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a big disappointment, more so than the first The Amazing Spider-Man movie. Though the special effects can be really nice to look at, they don’t do much to distract from the story’s gaping plot holes. Fans of the first reboot movie, and their kids, might get some enjoyment out of this, though I wouldn’t recommend it to people who aren’t really impressed with the reboot to begin with. However, if you need your superhero movie fix, this movie may or may not be enough to tide you over until Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy in the summer.

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