Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Senselessly Jolts Moviegoers

Glitzy effects and stellar chemistry can’t save Spidey 2 from a choppy plot and shoddy screenplay.


ARTH VADER (AV): Since SONY acquired Spider-Man from Marvel back in the late 1990’s, they had done a decent job of entertaining us with previous films. Spiderman (2002) was stellar and Spiderman 2 (2005) was a solid, not-without-thought fun ride. As for Spiderman 3? We don’t discuss Spiderman 3. As Mustafa told Simba in the Lion King; “You must never go there, son.” Still even the re-boot of Amazing Spiderman, though a hot mess, was entertaining and still left audiences with a sense of promise for the franchise. Borrowing from Spiderman’s rich cache of characters and stories, this movie recants the rise of the Rhino (such as he is), the origin of electro and the debut (again) of the Green Goblin. If one follow’s SONY’s 5-picture run on the franchise, then no, there is NOT a run of continuity and that, old friend, is the least of the problems with this film. 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): The first film flows right into this one with an ease and clarity that suggests they might have been written at the same time (don’t know if they were). Continuity between films is really all you can hope for these days as filmmakers seem all too eager to abandon the source material. That said, there were many elements from the various Spider-Man books to delight the web-slinging fan, even if they didn’t come together exactly like in the comic books.


AV: Honestly, I couldn’t have picked a better cast for this film, Ponty. In fact I'm going to say the chemistry between Ben ‘Too tall to be Spidey” Garfield and Emma “I’m back as Gwen Stacey” Stone is (ahem) electric (sorry about that). I will go further and say that the romance between Peter and Gwen is some of the best hollywood has shown in a while. While RomComs (Romantic Comedies) aren’t really my thing, I could have watched an entire film of these two–sans spiderman–and their zany romantic hi jinx. In other casting, Jamie “Ray” Foxx’s villainous portrayal was fine (even if the character had NO motivation whatsoever). I wish they had taken time to develop the non-Electro side of him more so we could empathize or even understand his villainy. Thoughts, Ponty?

TP: Andrew Garfield plays a good Peter Parker as he tries to navigate his world of danger and love. He also played a rather witty, and somewhat cocky, Spider-Man. I couldn’t decide if he overplayed the role, of if I just didn’t like the characterization. Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy was interesting and well played opposite Garfield, especially in those moments where their chemistry was evident. Dane Deehan played a better Harry Osborn than he did Green Goblin, as I was unimpressed after his transformation, but very much intrigued by how Harry dealt with his situation. Jamie Foxx delivered a good portrayal of his character, even if the writing for it was a little flat. He was far more engaging and interesting as Electro than as Max Dillon. I think the direction of the film could have been a bit better as It seemed to drag in some parts.

AV: The visual effects in The Amazing Spiderman 2 (TAS2) are just that… amazing. While I would debate as to whether or not the fully CGI-ed Spiderman ever truly integrated onscreen with the live-action one, I would would say this movie was downright beautiful visual effects fun. The slow-motion-to-hi-speed sequences are a rush. The scenes where spider is catching flying police cars really sends me into the comic-book-turned-movie zone and the visual effects are the ocular equivalent to eating a box of pop-rocks and washing it down with a can of coke. in short, if you’re looking for hi-velocity, nerve-bending action, then this film is for you. 

TP: This is where the film excelled and took no prisoners. Of course IMAX 3D was the only way I was seeing this, and it was worth every penny. The cinematography was outstanding and the CGI was top notch. The action came right off the screen from jump (no really…he jumped off a building in the beginning) grabbed my attention, and had me lusting for more. Heck, the special effects were so good, they’re probably the reason the film felt liked it dragged at times….cause anytime I wasn’t being injected with effects was a drag!

AV: This movie could have been great. But there are some basic elements every film—even super-hero films–NEED to follow to mean more than 2 hours in a dark room. First, the antagonist (the villain) needs motivation. What was Electro’s motivation? Why was he so pissed off? People didn’t remember his name? So this whole film could have been avoided if Spidey had just sat down and made him feel better over a cup of java? Harry Osborn wasn’t even MENTIONED in the first film. If he was going to play such an important role, why didn’t we see (or hear) about him before? We can’t expect movie-going audiences to just know the cannon when the director and the studio don’t even follow and keep on re-booting it. 


The flippant Spidey (mostly CGI), is mostly true to the character’s personality, but does NOT synch with the Peter Parker personality, at all. This is key. There are too many holes in this film to rant on about here but I will say this; I LOVE this genre and adore Spiderman. I have since age 7. For a combined production and advertising cost of close to $300 Million we can ask for a better Spiderman. We can demand it. This isn’t a shoestring budget, guys. C’mon SONY you have hundreds of millions of dollar, all the visual effects in the world, 50 years of really good material to pluck from and world class actors, screenwriters and even Stan Lee and a Legion of Marvel consultants to refer to. No film is perfect but with resources like these, this film should have been so much better. P-Man?

TP: Agreed Vader. There were a few goofs that stuck out to me, but few besides you watch the details in the hardcore way that I do, and I don’t think they detracted too much from the film… so I won’t get into them. What I found more interesting was the direction they took the character in with so much to shoulder with responsibility and consequences. It’s kind of one of the staples of reading the comic that Peter has to deal with so much angst and tragedy and still keep pushing forward to do the right thing. “With great power comes great responsibility” was really driven home here, and honestly, was also probably one of the key factors that detracted from the film for me. I actually don’t read any Spider-Man comics for that very reason… I don’t want my mood shackled with Peter’s problems. Perhaps it’s me, or maybe they really did something wrong, but I didn’t feel sad or even mildly upset when the focal moment arrived that drove home why Peter should have kept his promise to Captain Stacy. Yeah, something’s just not right about that.


AV: (Andrew) Garfield’s contracts is for three films and even though there are rumored drafts for Spiderman 4 already in the works (along with Venom and Sinister Six films) there will almost assuredly be a Spiderman 3. I was hoping not to have to consider comparisons to Spiderman 3 and the Amazing Spiderman 3 (confused yet?), but apparently Spiderman will be another cluster fornication of villains, heroes and characters because, why develop a solid one hero, one antagonist script when you can have dozens? (sigh) The introduction of not one, not two, not three, not four but six villains is a joke. Want a roll call? Electro, Rhino, Green Goblin all appear onscreen as well as Allistair Smythe, Felicia Hardy and the mysterious hatted man in the shadows (also seen in the post credit scenes in TAS #1) .

On the plus side, the final standoff with the senseless appearance of the Rhino involving a young boy standing in for Spidey is a near-tear-jerker. Proof even at the end of a film that is a hot mess, emotions can carry films of this nature. 

TP: Of course there will be a sequel, the only question is which villains are going to be in it. Of course I will see it, the only question is will I be as impressed with the story as I will be with the special effects (imagine that…a story that matches the effects!) I’m hearing rumors about the Sinister Six…. and wondering if the “too many villains” syndrome can really become that epic… and cringing because I have a feeling Sony will go there.


ARTH VADER rates Amazing Spider-Man 2: If you’re 10 years old, you are going to love this film. Short on plot, little-to-no character development and enough visual effects to choke a Rhino (yes he’s in this film too, though for the life of me I have no idea why). Still the movie is fun, as long as you don’t engage too many synapses and suspend disbelief, story alignment, screenplay, continuity, script… well, you get the idea. The Amazing Spiderman 2 is not bad, its disjointed, listless, poorly handled (as a film) but if you can look past it’s considerable pile of flaws, it’s ok. With that, this film barely charged five (5) Busted Blocks for me but, well, here’s to hoping. 

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Amazing Spider-Man 2: It wasn’t the best Spider-Man film, but it was certainly entertaining and a visual marvel (pun intended). I think the script could have been better, the goofs were an easy fix, and there were some missed opportunities here, but overall not a bad way to spend an afternoon. Despite my misgivings, this film swung in and webbed seven (7) busted blocks.

The Amazing Spiderman 2 — 6 / 10 Busted Blocks

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