4/18/14

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 - REVIEW


Following all the previews showing off the new Spidey flick's odd-looking villains and busy visuals, this second instalment in Marc Webb's rebooted franchise looked like it might have just skipped right over the superior sequel factor, instead going straight to an unintentionally hilarious Spider-Man 3-style of cacophony.

After all, three villains would mean three origin stories and add that to the continuation of the first film's subplot following Peter Parker's (Andrew Garfield) estranged parents, the "complicated" Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) romance and the obligatory gallons of action which comes with every bigger superhero sequel and you've got yourself one exhausting-sounding follow-up. 

The film opens with a surprisingly exciting opening sequence involving Parker's parents and, like with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it feels more like we're in Jason Bourne thriller territory than purely comic book shenanigans. It's good but it promises a darker tone ahead. The film then finally throws some good old Spidey high-speed, gravity-defying action at us and it becomes pretty clear that we're finally back in the cartoonish side of the Marvel universe with our hero bouncing around making quips, kicking butt and actually saving a bunch of people (take note, Man Of Steel). The plot then kicks in and introduces some new characters and many plot threads which are so full of holes you'd expect them to all fall apart immediately and yet... the film makes it work somehow.

It's patchy, it's messy, it's flawed, it's bloated...

And I loved every minute of it.

Here's the thing, with Spider-Man movies there's a bunch of stuff you need to accept going in: 1/ The villains are usually very difficult to not make look silly, 2/ Spidey plots are usually completely absurd and random and 3/ At best, a Spider-Man film is well made and tons of fun (Spider-Man 2) and at worst, it's frankly embarrassing for all involved (Spider-Man 3). Granted, Jamie Foxx's Electro is a bit of a misjudged creation as a whole: he looks weird, the special effects on his face making him look like a video game character from time to time, and his pre-accident geeky persona is clich├ęd to say the least. That said, the action sequences involving him are visually striking and badass enough to make you look past all that. Besides, he does have a cool voice and Hans Zimmer's booming, eclectic (electric, even) score perfectly underlines how intimidating the guy is.

As for the film's other villain, the Kinda Green Sorta Goblin (in the form of a sickly Harry Osborn), Dane DeHaan does a surprisingly fab job at taking this character in a new direction and ultimately being far creepier than James Franco's interpretation. The re-working of the whole Green Goblin thing as a natural genetic mutation is convoluted and miles away from the original plot we all know and love, plus it's a shame that Chris Cooper only gets an extended cameo as Norman Osborn, but they work it in cleverly and although the Goblin's involvement right at the end feels a bit rushed, it leads us to one of the ballsiest and most emotional moments in any comic book movie so it's well worth it. Sadly Paul Giamatti's Rhino doesn't get much screen-time, he opens and closes the movie, but those few moments are so enjoyable and the movie is already so long as it is that you really didn't need more of him.

All this to say that the film juggles three villains fine making Spider-Man 3 look even more inept and goofy than it already is.

Speaking of goofy, this sequel is bigger and sillier, for sure. The whole thing really feels like a cartoon with the odd serious moment and, honestly, I personally liked that. Finally we have Spider-Man joking around while he's fighting bad guys yet still being charming and heroic. Peter Parker does cry a lot in this movie, that's hard to deny, but so much emotional shit is going on around him that's it's hard to blame him really. After all, the entire point of the whole Gwen Stacy arc was to make Spidey grow-up and the film conveys that perfectly I thought. Sure The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is packed with flaws and dumb moments but overall it's so fun, so well put together from start to finish that, if you just sit back and enjoy it for what it is, you should have a blast. The first film was more serious and restrained but it took an entire hour for anything to happen and after that we got the worst Lizard imaginable. Here's a new Spider-Man film which actually feels like a Spider-Man film! It's funny, hugely entertaining, daring, adorable, stupid, all over the place, awesome...

Depending on whether you like this new direction for the franchise or not, you'll either love or hate this one and you'll probably be able to make a decent argument either way.

I, for one, really enjoyed this second instalment, much more so than The Amazing Spider-Man, and it's, in my opinion, the best Spidey flick since Spider-Man 2. It's the perfect cartoonish popcorn comic book movie and you should be pleasantly surprised if you don't go in analysing the crap out of it. Just sit back and have a good time, that's why this movie exists after all.

A surprisingly enjoyable mess.

More please!

1 comment:

  1. "You'll either love or hate this one"

    Spot on. This film felt like the nadir of comic book movies to me - shamelessly stupid (not in a good way), incredibly lazy, and poorly written characters. Good thing is that I don't think the series can get any worse with this entry under its belt.

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