Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Does whatever a spider can...like creep you the fuck out if you see one in the shower while you're naked.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – 4 out of 5

I’ve been a fan of Spider-Man since I was a little boy and I’ve been an avid reader of his various comics up until the Clone Saga turned me away (Even though that storyline gave us the Scarlet Spider—I like him—I didn’t care for the story). Even when Sam Raimi brought out his trilogy, I was right there to see each and every single one of them. Granted, I admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of those films because Raimi’s trademark over-the-top presentation and near insanity he has become known for made the films a little hard to deal with for me and, not to mention, I really wasn’t a fan of Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. He’s not a shitty actor, I just didn’t feel he embodied the Web Slinger…and then there was the piss-poor presentation of Mary Jane and all that crying. Let’s just put it this way, despite the things I liked about the trilogy, like the special effects (hate the third movie for its shit quality and jazz dancing but the Sandman’s special effects were awesome) and they did a great job of casting the villains, but I just didn’t get into the films the way I did the comics or even the animated series from the 90s (or even the reruns I watched of the 60s cartoon). However, I was a huge fan of the reboot that came around. In fact, because I was a fan, it caused people I thought were friends to tell me to “fuck off” and de-friend me from Facebook…wait, now that I think about it, that is a huge overreaction on their part.

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"Weee, I'm crop-dusting the city in a new way today!"

Anyway, so the sequel is here and I’ve been salivating from my geek mouth to see this follow up and, despite what critics and future ex-friends on Facebook that are currently hovering their cursors over the “unfriend” feature as they read this, I really freakin’ enjoyed this movie.

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The original script involved Electro and Spider-Man having a difference of an opinion
about a movie and, instead of unfriending him on Facebook, Electro became a super-villain
and sought revenge for Spidey's refusal to see the brilliance of Starship Troopers.It was going to be a weird movie.

After the death of Captain Stacy in the first film and coming into his own with his powers, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) struggles with his life as Spider-Man and struggles even harder with his promise to leave Capt. Stacy’s daughter, Gwen (Emma Stone), alone so she doesn’t get hurt because of his superhero ways, however, that can't erase the fact he is head-over-heels in love with her. While this internal struggle causes the two to break up and get back together, Oscorp creator Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper—who goes uncredited because he’s so talented he doesn’t need to take credit) dies and hands down his terminal illness and his company to his son Harry (Dane DeHaan). While Harry searches for a cure that could possible be held by Spider-Man, Peter searches for the truth about his parents’ murder and finds that all roads lead to Oscorp. Then, as if Oscorp’s hands weren’t dirty enough, an employee named Max Dillon is a victim of a tragic accident that leaves him a super-powered battery that feeds off of electricity. Feeling shunned and angry, this new villain named Electro teams with Harry Osborn, who himself transforms into the Green Goblin, and both seek revenge on the man they perceived has wronged them…and the price Peter pays for this is heavier than he could ever imagine.

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It's always the awkward intelligent geek that is treated badly by his cohorts that
becomes the villain.

I’ve stated it before but superheroes are a big part of my life. It really doesn’t matter what form they come in; comics, cartoons, video games or movies, I just love the mythology around superheroes. That is one of the biggest reasons I’m always giving comic book adaptations my perfect score. I don’t bullshit and say I’m not bias because I totally am. It’s my favorite type of movies and we are living in an era where the subgenre is taken seriously and we get these great big budget action spectaculars where the characters are treated the way they should be and the spirit of the pages is maintained. There was a dark time when we had nipples on Batsuits, Dolph Lundgren as the Punisher, and Captain America as a surfer but those times are gone and geeks like me are giving the epic popcorn blockbusters these properties were meant to be. So, that being said, yes, I gave another superhero movie a high  score but that's because it is EXACTLY the movie I wanted it to be and I was very entertained the entire way through.

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"J'accuse, Spider-Man!"

I admitted I wasn’t the biggest fan of Tobey as Spider-Man but I am really enjoying Garfield as Spidey. Tobey had some of the characteristics I knew and loved from my days reading the comics but his puppy dog look, over-the top silliness (that is probably more of Raimi’s fault than Maquire’s), and the constant crying left me looking at a guy who felt more like a shadow of the character. The geekiness, the unwarranted cockiness and following awkwardness that comes when the mask is off combined with the bad jokes is really embodied in Garfield’s performance and he continued to show me that he is my favorite presentation of Spider-Man so far (let's face it, it's going to get rebooted again). Not to mention that when he cries, he doesn’t look like a blubbering mess who is dribbling snot all over himself.

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"Time for a blue, translucent dick measuring contest with Dr. Manhattan."

Then there’s also the undeniable chemistry between Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield. Sure, it probably comes from the fact they are a real life couple but Gwen Stacy was such a huge part of Peter Parker’s life in the comics back in the day and these two really bring that level of importance to the screen and really make it feel like the pages came to life. This chemistry works extremely well in the drama department for what happens to Gwen and Peter and really makes the trademark scene from one of the most important comics in Spidey’s history come to life and really pull on my heartstrings to the point that I will neither confirm nor deny that tears were falling from my face.

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Readers knew it was coming...but it doesn't make it easier.

In fact, one of the strongest things I like about this rebooted franchise is the chemistry between the characters. Not only is Garfield great with Stone but the bond he’s able to show for Sally Field as Spidey’s Aunt May is fantastic and it has me wanting to see this bond play a bigger role in the next film. Then you have the friendship/soon to be bitter enemies relationship between Parker and Harry Osborn. Not only was Dane DeHaan able to make Harry look even better and more menacing than James Franco did (I still think you’re a great actor though, Franco) but something just felt real between DeHaan and Garfield and it only assisted in making the anger that Harry is going through feel justified (sort of but I'll get to that later) and realistic (as realistic as comic book films can be).

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Death always comes to the ones heroes love.  Start loving your enemies maybe?

One of the things I was really excited for with this next installment of the Amazing series was getting to see Electro brought to the screen. We all know the typical villains like Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin and Venom but getting to see Electro was super exciting and the way they combined the established villain with elements from Marvel’s “Ultimates” line really created a new type of threat we haven’t seen Spider-Man take on on-screen. Additionally, Jamie Foxx really helped craft the character by making him not only threatening but the frail, insecure man that was established in the comics from the days of old. It was also nice to see more influence from the “Ultimates” line for his look because that lightning bolt green and yellow suit would have looked ridiculous on the big screen.

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Then again, I'm pretty sure Jamie Foxx could have made that suit work.

Speaking of villains, Spider-Man has a record of sometimes cramming too many villains into one film and it felt like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was going to suffer that same fate (see the third film for more information). For example, this film had Electro, Green Goblin and The Rhino (who were all amalgams of the established comic universe and the “Ultimates” line) and there was the real risk that this would have harmed the film; however, in reality, the film was more about Electro and Green Goblin against Spider-Man but also as a jumping point for the upcoming spinoff film about The Sinister Six. This actually is one of my complaints for the film. Even though it was cool to see Rhino brought in (and played by the ultra-talented Paul Giamatti), this element really made the film feel like it was more about bridging Spidey’s story to the spinoff than actually being a full-on sequel to the first film. While the continuing evolution of Peter Parker is there, the film just couldn’t balance the feel of this being a sequel AND a springboard for a spinoff. This element wasn’t ultimately a killer for me, it just was a little bit distracting. 

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It's getting pretty hot in these rhinos.

This lack of balance seems to orbit around the villains of the film because all the drama and story that unfolds with Gwen and Peter works out great (even with a few hiccups).  I would have loved to have seen more interaction between Aunt May and Peter and seen their toils but, for what I got, I enjoyed the Gwen/Peter dynamic.  The sloppiness just comes from the villains and mostly in the fact it's hard to pinpoint what their motivations are.  Despite the film's length, a lot of these elements with the villains felt rushed.  It was disappointing to see Normon Osborn reduced to nothing but, what essentially is, a cameo and a little more exploration of how Electro learns to use his powers or seeing Harry Osborn's obsession with trying to cure his illness (which also should have been developed a lot more) would have made the story a lot stronger.  It all culminates in this film feeling like the emphasis was to be an on-ramp to The Sinister Six.  This, from my stand point, isn't horrible and doesn't bring the film to Spider-Man 3 levels and doesn't kill my high score but it would have made a sturdier film and make the movie feel more like a cohesive serial that it clearly wants to be.

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That dude in the background is really enjoying these barely legal characters make
out at their graduation.

My minor complaint aside, I really enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and found it to be an exciting and, most importantly, fun addition to the new Spider-Man franchise that continues to keep my love of everything superhero and Marvel alive and thriving. I thought the action was fast-pace and never dull, the drama was just right and never went overboard, and I’m really digging the new origin this franchise is doing with Spider-Man because it’s close enough to the story that I’m overly familiar with but new enough that it feels fresh (although it still needs to be divulged more because this one didn't reveal enough). 

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"Listen...um...I can't see but can you tell me if I'm wearing pants or not?"

I love all the nods and winks to the comics and the fact we get to see hints of Doc Ock’s arms and Vulture’s wings in the background and we get to see the future Black Cat; Felicia Harding, working at Oscorp alongside future Spidey villain Alistair Smythe (played by B.J. Novak, no less). Finally, I love the cast and think Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Field, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan and all the others did their job phenomenally. And did I mention the music? Wow, the sound and music were so good in this film and really helped set the tone for whatever scene was playing. Overall, I just had a lot fun with this latest addition even though there were some plotholes and minor problems and I like where director Marc Webb is taking the series and I’m very excited for the upcoming Sinister Six and Venom spinoffs and another film.

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