Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ten Statements--No, Wait, Eleven!--About....THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (2014)

"I know you've got a meeting with Batman Forever's
Edward Nigma for nutball pointers, so I'll let you go."
“You want me to come down there so you can kill me?"
“OK, I'll be right there."

1) Once again, this film succeeds on the absolutely effortless chemistry between Andrew Garfield’s Peter and Emma Stone’s Gwen.  Even when the two are breaking up, there’s a connection between them that is palatable and spurs on Peter’s story arc.  It’s an element that was lacking between Toby McGuire and Kristen Dunst.

2) My God, what is it about this version of Spider-Man where literally everything that ever happens anywhere in New York is connected to Oscorp.  By the time we see the scheming that makes Paul Giamatti the Rhino, the whole Oscorp angle becomes ridiculous.

3) While I have no problems with his Green Goblin, which is different but just as valid as Willem DaFoe’s version (only without the stupid helment), Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn is oddly off-putting.  Not only does he have this bizarrely emocore haircut, DeHaan doesn’t have nearly the chemistry with Garfield he needs to have to make his story arc credible.  Their status as best friends doesn’t come off well, doubly so when Harry’s back story in the context of this film is presented.
"So, ummm....which of us has the goofier hair, Pete?"

4) I have to wonder if Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon got together with Jim Carrey’s Edward Nigma to have coffee once a week, because Max is a broad caricature at best.  There’s always a sense of Foxx winking at the audience and playing at being a character as opposed to being a character.  Once he goes all Dr. Manhattan-y as Electro on everyone, he becomes better, but that first act is winceworthy.

5) To my pleasant surprise, director Mark Webb does manage to effectively juggle the three villains who appear in the film--The Rhino by using his story as bookends for the main story, and the Green Goblin by making the origin stretch out across the movie so his ultimate appearance doesn’t happen until the end, giving Electro the chance to, ahem, shine as the main baddie.  That being said....

6) One of my biggest problem with the film’s villains is that two of them have as their motivation a hatred of Spider-Man, and the other’s motivation is spurred on by his worship of Spidey.  These motivations truly are at odds with the grandness of the schemes of these bad guys save for The Goblin.

7) You know, I appreciate that Sony wants to put little easter eggs throughout the film--partially as fan service, and partially as seeds for future characters--but some of these easter eggs make no sense, being transformed so much by the film that there’s no reason for them to be here.  In particular B.J. Novak’s Alistair Smythe and Felicity Jones’ Felicia Hardy are so far away from the basic concepts of those characters that there’s no reason for them to be those characters.  And let’s not get into the fact that Dr. Ashley Kafka gets a facacta sex change and a ridiculous German-ish accent as portrayed by Marton Csokas.
Somehow, Spider-Man's stand-in
seemed a

8) I surely appreciate Mark Webb’s decision to continue the mini-theme of how Spider-Man’s empathy with people may be his biggest strength.  It’s his empathy with Max that gives the man hope and almost defuses the situation when he becomes Electro.  And a moment with a young kid makes for a nice, albeit tense at times, undercurrent and mirror for Peter’s own story arc.

9) The ending to this film has a weird feel to it.  It’s too long, for one, and seems to move well beyond the natural end point for the film.  The thing almost feels like a mini-movie on its own, and prolly should have been better handled.

10) You know, the first film promised ‘the secret story behind the hero’....and yes, the film does do some minor advances to this backstory, but it’s mainly a flashback, some hints that Peter was destined to be Spider-Man and him finding a secret lab under a subway tunnel.  There’s a definite ‘Get To The Fuckin’ Monkey’ vibe beginning to come from this series both with this subplot and the one involving ‘The Man In The Hat’ (that should be called ‘Dr. Spinoff’ given what he’s planning).

11) What the Hell was that totally unconnected scene from X-Men: Days Of Future Past doing in the end credits? Other than, of course, seeing Jennifer Laurence all blue’d up again...

Overall...still a valid and entertaining film in its own right that manages the deficits well enough that they don’t damage the film proper.

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