Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

So, I finally saw the new Spider-Man 2. Took me less time than seeing the original trilogy did.
Something I noticed, is that The Amazing Spider-Man series is being released on about the tenth anniversary of the original movies. The Amazing Spider-Man was released ten years, one month to the day after the original Spider-Man was released. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released about nine years, eleven months after the original Spider-Man 2. And to be honest, I actually like this one better than the original Spider-Man 2. Granted, I did get pretty angry at the film at one point (We'll get to that) but I never wanted to turn it off because the whole thing was boring.
Granted, I didn't think Spider-Man 2 was boring, per-se. I can't really pin down why I don't like the original Spider-Man 2, but this movie certainly didn't do that.
So, I've stayed away from spoilers ever since this movie came out, but that hasn't kept me away from accidentally hearing other peoples opinions about it, and some people have been saying the movie isn't great.
I disagree. Despite my severe dislike of certain things in the movie, I actually think it's fine.
Well, not fine exactly. But we'll get to that.
Spoilers might be inbound, so if you want to just see the culmination of the review just Ctrl F the asterisk and look for my score.
The main problem I have with this movie, is that it's not nearly as slick as its predecessor. The flow is a little bit wonky, and it's got a little bit too much going on. And at the same time, not enough.
Now, let's talk about the first villain. Everyone know about Jamie Foxx as Electro, and I think he works very well as the character. They develop him quite a bit, and he has a decent arc. His whole story is pretty compelling, despite him being kinda nuts. It's not much like the Electro from the comics, but the character is interesting, and his motivations are understandable. He's also kinda crazy, so it's easy to root against him.
And onto the second villain.
As everyone can see, The Green Goblin is featured prominently on the DVD cover, the poster, and the rest of the marketing pretty much. Electro's arc is the main focus of the film, but the Goblin doesn't fly in out of nowhere.
The problem is that he's not as developed as he probably should have been.
And finally, the third villain. The Rhino. Also featured on the big spread poster, and the DVD cover, but not featured as much in the film as the other two villains. He shows up at the end of the movie to create a cliffhanger for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 or the Sinister Six movie.
Let's go into the plot of the movie, now.
There are some clips of Peter's father doing things that get explained later on in the movie, and a scene that I won't talk about because it's really good, and needs to be seen in person to be understood. Suffice to say that if you know the comics, you know what happens in this scene.
An unknown amount of time after the first movie, Peter is attempting to stop a group of hijackers who stole an armored car with radioactive isotopes inside while on the way to his graduation. The scene is action-packed, funny, and awesome to watch.
A running theme throughout the movie is that George Stacy's ghost is haunting Peter, a bit like how the original Spider-Man 2 had Uncle Ben haunting Peter.
You know, I just realized that The Amazing Spider-Man killed off two of Peter's father-figures in a single film...
Anyways, that ghost pops up and ruins Peters' whole day. And this is where we get to an issue with the pacing.
That popup just pile-drives the pacing into the ground, unfortunately. It provides some necessary development for Peter, but I don't think that it flows from the last movie as well as it could have.
It's almost as if someone wrote the action scenes and then wrote in all of the strange ghost stuff in later. Kinda of like how all of the action in the original Spider-Man 2 seemed like it was written before the rest of the story, or at least separately.
I don't have any problem with that kind of thing specifically. I do think it could work if it was executed well, but it didn't seem to flow very well when I watched the movie.
Granted, Peter Parker is defined by the hurdles he overcomes. By the issues he has, but doesn't let affect him, so maybe I'll appreciate it more on repeat watches. Then again, I thought that plot was stupid in Spider-Man 2 every time I watched the movie. The only place I could really appreciate it was in the novelization of that film....
Anyways, there's some discussion between Peter and Gwen later on that leads to her breaking up with him. After that, Harry Osborn makes an appearance. My first impressions were that he looks nothing like his predecessor in the role, James Franco. He's coming back to New York to meet with his terminally ill father.
That's right, Norman Osborn dies in this movie, but not in the way anyone would expect. He isn't run through by his own glider, he dies from a wasting disease.
Something I feel I should point out is that Dane DeHaan rocks as Harry. He sells the role in all kinds of awesome ways. If I had to pick a replacement for Willem Dafoe, it would be him.
By the way, Harry Osborn is The Green Goblin in this movie.
And while there are certain changes made to his character that make his actions irredeemable, I don't fault them for it, because DeHaan makes such a great villain.
Dane DeHaan is probably best known for his role as Andrew Detmer in 2012's Chronicle, and I have a feeling he's headed for success, because these roles couldn't be more different.
Sure, the characters both come from abusive situations, but Andrew was introverted and shortsighted, while Harry is confident, savvy, demanding, and at times, more than a little hammy, but that can also be interpereted as him knowing what buttons to push to piss people off and make them do what he wants.
Anyways, Harry tells off the board of directors in spectacular fashion, and then the movie switches to Max, a guy obsessed with Spider-Man. He holds imaginary conversations with Spidey while getting ready for work.
At work, Max is abused by his coworkers and superiors, and fantasizes about shouting at them really loudly.
Needless to say, the man has some problems. Problems which are exacerbated when he's forced to stay after work to fix a power line without proper precautions.
If you didn't guess, this turns him into Electro.
He's left for dead in the Osorp morgue, and busts out, revealed to be made of electricity. He starts walking around New York, finally coming to Times Square, where he starts feeding on the power lines. The cops are called, and Peter helps them sort the situation out as Spider-Man.
This whole scene and all of the leadup are very well made and don't require further comment.
Afterwards, Harry determines that he needs Spider-Man's blood to help him survive the hereditary disease his father had, which is already starting to affect him. Peter reluctantly agrees to help him find the web-slinger, and later visits Harry in his suit.
He tells him that he can't help him until they've had more time to test the pseudo-super-soldier serum, but Harry misinterprets his caution as selfishness and goes a little nuts.
This is where one of my issues with the film arises. There wasn't enough development of Harry's state of mind, it didn't make a whole lot of sense why he went so nuts so fast. Granted, dying can do that to a person, as can being raised by Norman Osborn, but in all of the scenes immediately prior, Harry didn't seem very desperate, or concerned.
Now, there IS a deleted-scene that shows that Harry found surveillance photos of Peter, dating back to just after the Parkers died, and continuing until recently. In that scene, Harry shows some resentment that Norman paid more attention to Peter than he did his own son, but as we haven't seen more than a few minutes of Norman Osborn interacting with anyone, it's impossible to know if Norman had the same fatherly relationship with Peter as he did in the Raimi series.
You see what I mean by it not having enough happening. It seems like there was about an hour of story cut out of the middle of the movie....
After that, the board ousts Harry, having framed him for the coverup of Max's accident. Harry decides his best course of action is to free Electro from his prison, where he gets experimented on by a cartoony German mad scientist.
One who looks and sounds a lot like the cartoony German mad scientist from The First Avenger.
Harry does so, displaying some baffling CQC skills that were never mentioned in the movie, or explained. Granted, it was pretty awesome to see Harry beat up those guards.
Harry and Electro put together a plan to lure out Spider-Man, while they also storm the Oscorp building and steal an inferior copy of Tony Stark's Iron Man suit, and some unfinished, untested Super Soldier serum.
After an epic fight with Electro, the newly mutated Harry Osborn shows up, having just killed a bunch of Oscorp mercenaries (not that the main film actually shows you that, you gotta to into the deleted scenes to see it) and thirsty for Spider-Man's blood.
This is where I get to my second issue with the film. Harry just stands there, hovering for a while, a couple of arms-length away from Peter. He should have just webbed Harry up and hauled him back to a containment cell, Peter is fast enough to do that.
Instead, everyone just kinda stands there. Peter's Spider-sense should have alerted him that Harry was coming, and given him time to prepare, especially when Harry was hovering next to him, or while he was descending into the power station.
Harry deduces from the fact that Gwen is present, and helping Spidey that Peter must be the web-slinger. That would have been less of a leap if they'd left a scene where Peter displays his superhuman reflexes by accident to Harry in the film, so as it is, all we've got is one scene where Peter tosses a rock across the river a little better than he should be able to. As it is, not much to go on.
So, they fight, and Gwen gets captured by Harry.
I'm pretty sure everyone knows where this is going. I certainly did, despite all hopes to the contrary.
You know, even though I knew it was coming, even though I knew there probably wasn't any other way the movie was going to end, I still cried when she died. I still hated the movie for it, and I still wished it had turned out differently.
After that, Peter quits being Spider-Man for five months, until he stumbles upon Gwen's graduation speech. That speech inspires him to put the suit back on, and go back to fighting injustice wherever he might find it.
So, since the casting of Mary Jane Watson is inevitable, I'm going to throw out a recommendation for her actress.
Emma Stone.
She has the natural red hair, great chemistry with Andrew Garfield, and she's a great actress.
And that could also make for some pretty cool plot points. Peter could think that Mary Jane was the ghost of Gwen haunting him, and then find out that she's actually another girl. Why not?
Sony, you can use that if you want. I won't charge you anything for it, just stick my name in the credits and give me a lifetime pass to all of your movies.
All in all, aside from the ending, the movie is very fun to watch. And despite some pacing issues, and issues with the development of Harry Osborn as a character, I still liked the movie, for the most part.
The only issue I have left is that all of the extended, deleted, and alternate scenes actually should have been in the film.
And also, there's no alternate ending where Gwen doesn't die.
Or where Peter goes all Bane on Harry.
Or where Peter webs Harry up and hauls him to jail.
I give it an 8.3* rating. I'll see you soon with more reviews!