Friday, May 2, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2... Because They Literally Have To Put One Of These Out Every Couple Years

or they'll lose the rights. And Sony ain't losing the rights to Spider-Man... No matter what.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was... well not amazing exactly, but it was alright... passable, if you will. The awkward fact is, we live in a time when these movies will just keep getting made. I personally like big blockbuster super hero movies. But I don't like seeing millions and millions of dollars being wasted on making something that is just filler... which has been the issue with a lot of these of late. But none so much as these new Spider-Man films. While on the surface they look like delicious candy, every time I open up the wrapper it turns out someone left it in the sun and the chocolate is just melted to the point that I don't actually want to eat it anymore. After all, what good is candy without substance?

Marc Webb has impressed me with his versatility. But he's also confused me with his lack of concentration. When (500) Days of Summer came out, I thought this was a guy who had his shit together and completely understood the message he was trying to impart. But ever since he put his hands on Spider-Man I've been scratching my head. If he could make such a clean and concise film as (500) Days... what's getting in the way with his super hero franchise? Well it's probably Avi Arada, but that's a different talk for a different time.

It's true, where the first film failed to do much new or interesting, this sequel did manage to grab me a few more times. The Electro effects in the first half really worked for me.
Though I can't even begin to guess what Jamie Foxx was doing in this movie. Aside from Django (and I give Tarantino the credit for that one) Jamie Foxx hasn't had a good performance since Ray... back in 2004 (????). And unfortunately the trend continues here. Like I was saying, there were Electro moments that really worked. But those were usually not acting moments and mostly just made more interesting with weird industrial/electric music and good effects (when the effects were good... so not the second half of the movie for some reason).
The advent of Green Goblin felt almost as rushed as the Venom thing in Spider-Man 3... which is obviously not a good thing. And the Peter/Harry relationship never got going the way it needed to. Granted I enjoyed Andrew Garfield (when he wasn't awkwardly feeling up his aunt) and Emma Stone was exceptional as usual. But Dane DeHaan was merely passable in a role that needed more teeth from the actor and the writers. Essentially, he was only put in the movie because the Green Goblin haaad to exist in this movie in order for the filmmakers to get away with the ending. Fan boys will not accept the ending they chose without him. That and Sony will be moving forward with spinoffs like the Sinister Six movie, so they needed to build in a couple of those characters ASAP. And the audience can feel it Sony. We get it. But it still feels incredibly unnecessary... so prove us wrong about these spinoffs.

Anyway as the last quarter of the film played out, I found myself considering what Spider-Man's supposed to be. He's not representative of the "American spirit", like Superman... and he's not a dark detective, like Batman... he's not about big business, like Iron Man... and he doesn't have the whole wanting to belong or be free thing that the X-Men have always done. Spider-Man is supposed to be more like a regular kid who goes to school, has a family, and tries to have a social life... even if he does self sabotage on a regular basis. These new movies try to capture that feeling. But they always seem to bury it because there are just too many absurd things going on to really give them the time they deserve. Obviously we should never be forced to watch a D train rise out of an abandoned subway as if it's supposed to be cool, because it doesn't make sense to the story... at all. This is almost as awkward as the cranes in the first one, suspension of disbelief only goes so far, and if you want it to go farther you badly have to earn the audience's trust. Something these writers have failed to do time and time again... Still there was one moment that pulled me back from my contemplative mood at the end there. It nearly justified the entire movie for me. And I really might have walked out of there with a skip in my step if that had felt like the message the filmmakers were trying to go with all movie long. Because a little kid who looks up to Spider-Man really can make a difference...

I do keep thinking about the idea of stakes. Are they high enough? Do we, the audience, feel the danger? And while most of the time in these kinds of movies I would say probably not, this time it was a different story. The writers came in with one event they had to do. I knew it was coming because they had set it up in the first movie and if you intentionally cast your movie to pull at heart strings I think we all know what's gonna happen... one of those strings is gonna get cut. Anyone who knows anything about Spider-Man knows what this movie is here for. I'm glad I've finally seen them be "brave" enough to do it. I was disappointed when they didn't try to switch it up in the original trilogy and do the same thing. But what's odd to me is the filmmakers didn't seem to have any restraint in interviews about it. I didn't just expect the event because of the previous installment... I KNEW it was coming because Marc Webb pretty much told me it was gonna happen. To me, that's a strange way to put out interviews before the movie has made it to it's audience.

Essentially, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is better than the first one, but still doesn't manage to resonate because it's just too convoluted with so many peoples' ideas. As a studio I get the desire to have three screenwriters and four story credits because you really just want to get it right. But I think the message that a majority of these movies have accidentally been imparting is, one or two guys who truly understand their craft and deeply care about the content will make you a better movie. Just a thought.
Oh, btw, there's no tag after the credits... so if you wanna see that weird X-Men thing, just wait a little while and once Mystique is done being weird it's alright to get out of your seat and finally go home.

1 comment:

  1. Good review Caleb. A fun movie, even if you weren't a huge fan of the first. Which I wasn't much of.