Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Amazing Spider-man 2

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx
Directed by: Marc Webb
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 142 minutes

After seeing Captain America: Winter Soldier, I was ready for the next superhero movie of the year. The first movie was still fresh and I really hoped some improvements were made with the second installment since the initial reboot.

After the events from the first movie, Peter Parker finds himself struggling to balance himself and his life as Spider-Man. He continues to investigate the mystery of his parents and their disappearance and the promise he made to Gwen Stacy's father concerning their relationship. Reuniting with an old friend, Harry Osborn, a new foe reveals itself and the further Peter digs he realizes that majority of his problems lead back to Oscorp.

I must admit I had my worries about this movie. Along with the upcoming Superman movie, both movies were suffering from something some call "the after Avengers Syndrome" in which superhero movies try to cram as much content from the source material into one movie. It was a concern, but I was still looking forward to it. If you read my review for the first movie, you would know that I enjoyed it and acknowledged its many flaws. With this movie, I definitely enjoyed it more than the first, but...there are still problems.

Let's start with the positives! The major strength of this movie is the casting. I went into more depth about the cast in the first movie and even compared them to the Raimi cast. The sequel still has a great choice of actors and actresses. I enjoyed the interactions, the tension, and the chemistry, especially between our main characters Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. I loved watching them together the most. A lot of times romance can really bog down a story that isn't romance based and sometimes it can be a little annoying that I roll my eyes when they're on screen, but with them, I felt very invested and understood the struggle and passion between them. I also love the moments between Peter and Aunt May. The relationship between them also felt very genuine. Aside from the cast that carried over to the sequel, the new additions were intriguing. Harry Osborn had an alluring edginess to him that was different from James Franco in the Raimi franchise, yet just as interesting in most places. Lastly, Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Dr. Edward Nygma Max Dillon was fun to watch. From his unappreciated beginnings to his evil transformation, I was interested on which direction he would go. Outside of casting and characters, the story remained intriguing and I felt like the pacing was good. The visuals were still on par whether 2D or 3D.

Before I get to the negatives, I want to reiterate that I did enjoy this movie...but I'm not afraid to point out its shortcomings. I will try my hardest to avoid spoilers as well. Similar to the first, there were unresolved plot holes. Some of them carried over from the first movie unfortunately. We do get a little more backstory about Peter's parents and their disappearance. It was a great opening scene and brought something new to Peter's story that hasn't been touched on in cinemas. It gave him the extra push to continue on his path as a human being and superhero. Uncle Ben is not forgotten either or Gwen's father, unfortunately the movie continues to neglect Peter's real motivation for this double life: finding Uncle Ben's killer! I have a feeling the franchise will never acknowledge it and if they do it'll probably be sloppily done or a throw away which is quite sad. Maybe because we have Raimi's Spider-man, I felt like Harry's introduction was awkward and a little confusing. I'm assuming we're supposed to feel sympathy for his situation, but we're simply dropped in the middle with a clumsy exposition about his relationship with his father and Peter, his general background, and his personal dilemma. Honestly, his whole purpose is completely rushed throughout the whole movie. The movie simply introduces another useless villain, a few comic book easter egg, and a shameless plug for the movie's future spin off.

What made Harry's transformation so compelling, and maybe a bit heartbreaking, in Raimi's version is that the audience was able to witness his journey and development alongside Peter. We saw him interact with his father, his business, Peter, and Mary Jane. With Marc Webb's version, we get uninteresting exposition that we have to quickly digest, muster up some sort of sympathy, and ultimately feel conflicted in his opposition with his closest friend. That's a lot to ask for. I really wanted to feel something as I really enjoyed Dane DeHaan's portrayal of Harry, but the story and pacing sabotaged any chance of that happening. Max Dillon/Electro was kinda under utilized and his motivations felt weak. As mentioned jokingly before, he reminds me very much of Jim Carrey's character Dr. Edward Nygma/Riddler from Batman Forever. A guy with a passion for science, but receives little recognition, then gets noticed by the hero and instantly becomes obsessed with him. Something goes wrong, he turns evil, and tries to get revenge on society mostly and recognized by the hero. Senpai, notice me! It might sound silly in those words, but it can still be entertaining on screen. Sadly, Electro gets lost in the shuffle and we don't see him in action much. His dislike for Spider-man seems unbelievable and isn't developed very well. Which leads to the bigger problem of that Avengers Syndrome.

As far as villains are concern, I would've made the Rhino a minor obstacle and not bring him back after the first scene. He could have the suit or whatever or just cut him completely and save him for the spin-off. Next, stretch Harry's character so we can get to know him and his relationship statuses. Let him stay a good guy until at least the third, maybe even fourth, movie. Lastly, expand Aunt May's role and her relationship with Peter. Their interactions are just as interesting as his exchanges with Gwen. Minor technical complaint are the awkward camera choices during the car chase scene at the beginning.

With two Amazing Spider-man movies out, it seems like they're neck and neck with its predecessor. For a further comparison of the two franchises, check out the Nostalgia Critic's Old vs. New. For the most part, I agree with him. Maybe not completely, but there are some very valid points. To conclude my review, I still enjoyed it despite its imperfections. It was slightly more enjoyable than the first, but sadly suffers similar problems. I am looking forward to the spinoff and the third installment and still hold onto the hope that they'll do less and focus on closing plotlines.

Rating: 3/5

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