Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review: 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' Movie

(Photo Source: Sony)
Okay, where do we begin with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which I've been meaning to review for a little while now? Even though I was excited to see it since I'm a huge Spider-Man fan, there was a part of me that was worried about how the film would turn out. And that wariness began way back when we found out there would be multiple villains in #2. And that got everyone, including myself, having flashbacks to Spider-Man 3--that was quite the villain-palooza!

So since I'm talking about it, let's get right into the villains. Electro (played by Jamie Foxx, who is great as both the introverted Max Dillon and as the alter-ego) is of course the main villain, and that would have been fine if he was the only bad guy in the film, just as the first Amazing Spider-Man only had the Lizard.

But then they added Harry Osborn as the Green Goblin, which made a lot of people groan because we already had this villain in the original trilogy. People were already complaining about how this reboot franchise came so soon after the original, so why test people's luck even more by recycling one of the villains?

Then there's Rhino, played by Paul Giamatti, who is barely seen in Amazing Spider-Man 2. He's at the start and then near the end. The movie starts off (after the prologue) with a big action scene: Spider-Man vs. Rhino (though he's not the Rhino at this time). And when he's put away, it seems like that's the end of him. I'm thinking, maybe they wanted to start off the movie with action and decided to have a quick cameo by a different villain/criminal as if we're coming into the story right in the middle of something, and then move into the film's main storyline (because this opening seemed kinda pointless, especially with bringing in such a big-name actor). But he comes back later on as the Rhino.

And that's when something interesting happened. The biggest issue with the third Sam Raimi film was that the multiple villains didn't really have anything to do with each other. It was all separate storylines that bogged down the film and made for a disjointed plot.

However, the difference between that and the multiple villains in Amazing Spider-Man 2 is that in this one, the plot is constructed in a way so that the villains would have a connection to each other. And because of that, ASM2 executed the bloated villains deal a whole lot better than SM3. That's not to say it was perfect or that it was okay for them to do it this way (it still suffers to an extent from Spidey 3 syndrome--you'd think they would have learned from Raimi's mistake since, after all, that was the downfall of the original trilogy), but they win points for intertwining everything.

As the movie was going along, I was getting frustrated as each new villain was being introduced. But then when it all came together, I got more intrigued. And what I thought was really cool was that they teased the Sinister Six as part of that storyline. Seeing the various outfits/suits/whatever you want to call them, I got excited. I did spot the Doctor Octopus suit, though, which gave me pause since that would be yet another villain from the original trilogy they'd be bringing back.

But regardless, I love how the end built towards something bigger than just this one movie, it was building towards The Sinister Six. Now, who knows if it'll ever get made. We all know that the Spider-Man franchise is very much in limbo right now. And there's been some talk that maybe Sony will let Marvel include Spider-Man in their movies. Whether that happens or not, I don't know. (And if it does, does that mean the Sinister Six movie will be cancelled or will Sony still go through with it?) As long as I see Spider-Man on the big screen in some way, I'll be happy.

Let's just say for a moment that we know for sure this franchise will continue (since at the time of filming, everyone assumed it would.) The movie ends with Rhino and Spidey coming at each other. Quite a cliffhanger. If the Rhino is one of the Sinister Six villains, why do this scene now? Will the S6 movie kick off with the continuation of this scene? The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was originally supposed to be next, but since they changed things around with Sinister coming first, it seems more fitting since they have this scene along with the Sinister Six tease in ASM2.

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Okay, I've got that whole multiple villains deal out of the way. So moving of my favorite parts of the first Amazing Spider-Man movie was the backstory of Peter Parker's parents. We got some more flashbacks and revelations in #2, which I was excited to see, including a prologue in which their plane goes down and they're presumed dead--but are they? I'm under the assumption that the writers/producers/etc. have more planned for this storyline. With the franchise in limbo, though, who knows if we'll even get another film to continue it.

After the prologue, the film segues into the action scene I talked about and then Peter and Gwen's graduation ceremony, which Peter is late to, of course, since he's saving the world and all that. I have another gripe I want to bring up, speaking of graduation. When they rebooted this franchise, I thought one of the big points of starting over was to make Peter Parker younger and keep him in high school for a much longer period of time, not just push graduation to the second movie as opposed to having it in the first movie as seen in the original trilogy. That's one of the things I was looking forward to with this new series, to see Parker still in high school and still a kid, so to speak, while also being Spider-Man.

(By the way, this is where Stan Lee has his Marvel cameo. He's in the audience at graduation and says, "I think I know that guy." I always look forward to his cameos in all of these movies.)

I know this review so far sounds like I hate this movie, but I don't. It's just that there are certain things that got on my nerve. But let's move to some positives. The first Amazing Spider-Man film was great at adding humor, and #2 doesn't disappoint. To bring up just a couple examples: at one point, Aunt May is wanting to go into Peter's bedroom while he has the Spidey suit on. Also, Aunt May says something along the lines of, "Last time you did your own laundry, everything turned red and blue." Peter says, "I was washing the American flag," to which she responds, "No one washes the American flag." Also, I love that Peter's ring tone is the Spider-Man theme song.

What I also love about this film are the special effects, especially when it comes to Electro. The visuals of the blue electricity are really beautiful, actually. Very striking (pardon the pun), particularly during that scene with Spidey vs. Electro in Times Square. Not only do you have the iconic location, but the special effects to go along with this action scene are incredible.

And I can't end this review without talking about Gwen Stacy. It's obvious that these two actors, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, have great chemistry. And I was worried that Gwen would die in this film. I still remember back during filming when photos made their way online showing Emma Stone in a Gwen Stacy outfit that was the same as the one she was wearing in the comics when she died. So I had that lingering in the back of my head as a possibility. But it still didn't lessen the shock when the moment finally happened.

But let me back up a minute. Once Electro is done for, the Green Goblin shows up and takes Gwen. And this Spidey vs. Goblin sequence is a very nicely orchestrated scene to get to the point where Gwen drops. Everything's leading up to it, but will it actually happen? Spider-Man grabs her, but she still hits the ground and dies. So it turns out those paparazzi set photos were right on point.

So, as you can see, there's both good and bad things to say about The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The franchise is currently up in the air at the moment. We have no idea if there will be another sequel or a Sinister Six film. The leaks from the recent Sony hacking revealed the possibility of Sony allowing Marvel to include Spidey in their films. Many Marvel fans would love that, and as I said above, any excuse to have the best superhero on the big screen is fine by me.

So whatever happens with Spider-Man next, I'll be watching it. There's been talk of recasting Peter Parker/Spider-Man yet again, will fans be ready to embrace a third Spidey actor in just a handful of years? I don't know, but I just hope everyone can get their act together and make a fantastic film.

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