Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

A spoiler-free review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

NO. SPOILERS.

THE-AMAZING-SPIDER-MAN-2

To say I’ve been excited about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (TASM2) for a little while now would be an understatement.

Back in July 2012, I signed off my review for the first film saying –


“Here’s hoping future installments deliver on the early promise [that at least some of] the cast have shown.”

Well, did it?

Max Dillon

No. It didn’t.

And I’ll get to why shortly. But first, the good stuff.

The Cast

TASM2’s main players are perfect (it’s the secondary characters that make you cringe*). Andrew Garfield is Peter Parker just as much as he is Spider-Man. The latter of the two, especially in the earlier action scenes, never better in fact. Funny, fast-talking, and clearly very much at ease with who he is, Spider-Man of 2014 is pretty darn spot on.

On a related note, much has been said about the outstanding chemistry between Garfield and his leading lady, Emma Stone. This, again, is a definite highlight and the screen sparkles and shines whenever the two of them are together throughout. In fact, some of the film’s best laugh out loud moments come from their quick-fire back-and-forths; their relationship has never been more believable.

Jamie Foxx, as new villain Max Dillon – aka Electro – is actually really good too. His journey from ignored nobody through to genuinely messed-up-in-the-head super-villain is superb and in all honesty, probably deserved more screen time than he actually got (but we’ll come back to that).

Dane Dehaan is a great Harry Osborn but again, not for very long. I haven’t seen Dehaan in anything since the seminal super-powers flick, Chronicle, so it’s good to see him bringing the gravitas and pain to the always conflicted character that is the heir to Oscorp.

Finally, on the casting front, it must be said that Sally Field is without doubt one of the best things in the entire film. Her screentime can only add up to something around 15mins in total, but the emotional punch her Aunt May delivers in one particular scene (as well as others) makes her stand head and shoulders above all else and the film is much better for it.

Thank you, Sally Field.

Sally Field Aunt May

All those great actors, all those great performances – what could possible go wrong?

The Script

It’s terrible. I mean, really really terrible. There were rumours of multiple rewrites and myriad changes constantly throughout the making of this film (an entire character, in the shape of Shailene Woodley’s Mary-Jane Watson was written, shot, and then later edited out of the final cut) and the script has clearly suffered for it. Admittedly Jamie Foxx is a great actor, but he’s worthy of an Oscar nod for pulling off this line with a straight face –

“Soon, everyone in the city will know how it feels to live in a world without power, without mercy, without Spider-Man”

If TASM2 had an honest movie poster it would read:

‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Great actors do their best with terrible lines.’


The Plot

To say the plot [and pacing for that matter] of TASM2 is ‘convoluted and messy’ would be an understatement. In the original Spider-Man trilogy, it is universally accepted that Spider-Man 3 is the worst of the three. With the blame, amongst other things, being placed firmly on there being too many villains and not enough time. Sadly, you can say the exact same thing about TASM2.

The Goblin’s arrival seems unnecessary and rushed, especially as Dehaan was doing such a great job as Osborn (and moreso when you remember it took James Franco’s Harry Osborn a full two-and-a-half-films before he finally turned), and the appearance of the mechanised Rhino later on in the film is almost laughable in its whole only-reason-to-exist-is-so-that-we-can-sell-more-toys cheek.

It’s a joke.

Spider-Man 2 poster

Thing is, it’s not only that TASM2 tries to cram in as many references as humanly possible, but its also Sony’s whole ‘we’re building a world/platform for sequels’ thing.

The problem here is twofold. First, the story loses focus and feels bloated. Second, and this is the major deal-breaker, as a result of this ‘sequel-itis’ Spider-Man never really goes through any real sense of surprise or peril.

Don’t get me wrong, while more bad things happen in this film than the first one, there isn’t any real point throughout that you think ‘Oh no! How will Spider-Man get out of it this time?’

I get it. He’s a super-hero. But still. Even his lowest ever low point doesn’t actually feel that low, and that’s a really bad thing.

In Closing

As I’ve already said, TASM2’s casting is [almost] perfect and the film gets away with a lot because of it. However, more time should’ve been spent on the story at hand, not on the wider sequel-set-ups and, as a result, the end result lacks any real emotional impact.

What this franchise needs is a change of director.

Yes, my main points of contention have been about story, pace and scripting, however, perhaps a new/decent director wouldn’t let those things through the net. Marc Webb has already been signed up for TASM3, and I really don’t hold out much hope for it to be much better than this.

Which is a real shame, because he makes a darn good trailer.

Two supporting characters in particular really SUCKED for me.

First: Paul Giamatti. It’s clear PG is meant for bigger things to come in [the already planned/announced] TASM3 however, as Russian gangster Aleksei Sytsevich – aka The Rhino, I can’t work out if he’s woefully miscast or utterly wasted. Whichever one it is, he brings the film down.

Second, Marton Csokas turns up in a random cameo as Ravenscroft Institute’s Dr Ashley Kafka and, when that happens; the whole film takes a swerve into Batman Forever territory. Every time I saw him, it was as though the director had just stepped out for lunch or something. I wanted to throw popcorn at the screen it was that bad.

For the uber-geeks out there, wondering if there’s any kind of post-credits sting similar to the first one (with Dr Connors getting a visit from a mysterious inquisitor) you’ll be sadly disappointed. That being said, many publications are reporting that there’s an X-Men: Days of Future Past scene midway through TASM2’s credits.

But this is not the case at the IMAX.

But it is happening at other, regular cinemas. FYI and all that.
——

Final words –

DO see this film if you’re a comic book / Spider-Man geek and you want to make your mind up about it yourself.

DO NOT see this film if you thought the first TASM was a bit lacklustre. TASM2 will only let you down further.

 

Whatley out.

 

 

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Or how 21 Jump Street ruined everything…

I first blogged about The Amazing Spider-Man (TASM) back in May and while I wasn’t overly stoked about it, it still looked set to be a fairly good stab at rebooting the franchise.

Yes, we all know it’s only been five years since we last saw Spidey grace the big screen (the poorly-received Spider-Man 3 not  giving Toby McGuire the best of send-offs)

Sony decided to waive Spider-Man 4 and move straight into a retelling of the radioactive arachnid  him goodbye in the poorly-received Spider-Man 3) and while we may not be ready… Nope, start over…

And whilst I still maintain Spidey 2 was the best of that trilogy (and arguably one of the best superhero movies ever made), Spider-Man 4 never appeared and instead, well… instead we get this

 YAWN YAWN YAWN YAWN YAWN YAWN

Let’s cut to the chase:

The Amazing Spider-Man (TASM) doesn’t tell us anything new and, while it does present us with a fresh (and quite capable) Peter Parker, the film is poorly directed, the villain poorly executed, and overall – the cast struggle with a mis-firing plot that doesn’t really ever deliver; especially when *previously seen* parts of the film [ie: in trailers, teasers etc] have actually been removed from the final cut.

And here’s the kicker: the more I think about it the more I realise the one over-riding thing that killed TASM for me.

Ready?

21 Jump Street

With me? No? OK, I’ll try it a different way.

21 Jump Street RUINED The Amazing Spider-Man

…and I’ll tell you how

24hrs before I went to see TASM, I sat down with the girl and decided to give the Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill cops-as-students, TV-to-film re-make, comedy vehicle a go.

AND IT WAS GREAT.

Brilliant in fact. So surprisingly funny/hilarious that the GF and I were both actually quite stunned at how bloody good it was.

Bear with me, this is actually going somewhere…

Here’s the rub [minor spoilers ahead], the plot of 21 Jump Street centres around a couple of cops being sent back to school to uncover a suspected drugs ring. However, one of the key parts of said tale is that our heroes actually used to be at school together. one of them (Tatum) was the atypical high school jock and popular kid and the other (Hill) was johnny-no-mates geek who hung around with nerds and basically failed in all things female related.

So far, so what… well, that first part – of the two being at High School together – is set in 2007. Five years later, they’ve become cops, made friends [with each other] and are assigned this undercover gig. Except, something has happened.

GLEE has happened.

Thanks to the super-popular American musical/comedy/drama (dramusedy?) American TV series, roles have been reversed:

Geek is cool.

It’s a great plot point in 21 Jump Street and yet it creates a HUGE plot hole in The Amazing Spider-Man. Geeks are cool. Ergo, Peter Parker is cool. Especially if your Peter Parker looks just like the hugely not unattractive Andrew Garfield. It just doesn’t add up. Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) fancies him, and rightly so – but you kinda think that she would whether he got bit by a radioactive spider or not.

That aside, the two do have a sparky relationship and there’s obviously a decent chemistry. However, that’s about all I can find that’s good about TASM I’m afraid.

The film’s villain, the woefully mis-cast Rhys Ifans as Dr Curt Connors – aka The Lizard – is clumsily realised and comes across as a bad amalgamation of previous Spider-Man bad guys, Green Goblin and Dr Octopus (whilst never actually managing to get near either when it comes to actual menace).

Also, while we’re on the subject: WHAT’S WRONG WITH THESE PICTURES?

Yes. One is of a mutated lizard man and one is a of man in a lizard suit.

Guess which one they use in the film?

Moving on, here are some other things that didn’t amaze me (whited out as they contain Spidey-spoilers)

  • Parker steals the webbing and then creates the shooters – SURELY someone at Oscorp would notice that this is missing (or at least, NOTICE IT in the streets) and basic police skills would track him down?
  • The whole thing with the cranes at the end? SERIOUSLY? I laughed out loud at this point
  • The Lizard releases some gas that turns the police into Lizards too, BUT WE NEVER SEE THEM
  • Mask on, mask off, mask on, mask off, mask on, mask off…
  • That bit, when the Lizard is chasing Spidey in school, and he *just happens* to discover the exact two chemicals required to create a make-shift bomb? Y’know, because stuff like that is just left laying around…  WHAT THE EFF?
  • I’m glad Dennis Leary’s character died, he wasn’t great – where’s JJJ?! 

In closing:

Whilst The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t that amazing, it isn’t actually that bad either. Yes, it’s too soon to reboot the franchise (obviously), but it does manage to lay enough ground for [hopefully] decent sequels. Sam Raimi’s original trilogy never really took itself too seriously and, while Garfield’s Spider-Man brings the wit, the rest of the film could do well to learn from his comedy timing.

In a year that sees quite possibly the two largest chapters in comic book film history come to a head (see Avengers and Dark Knight Rises), The Amazing Spider-Man really does struggle to stand tall amongst the crowd.

Here’s hoping future installments deliver on the early promise [that at least some of] the cast have shown.

Whatley out