FILM: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”

Review by Pete Mason

“The Amazing Spider-Man”? More like “The Convenient Spider-Man,” although the effects were almost amazing at some points. From the start, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” felt a lot like the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man 3, which had one too many villains, but a lot less crying. Andrew Garfield is more confident and cocky than Maguire, and has a better relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) than Kirsten Dunst could have asked for with Maguire. But still, the movie is lacking beyond this couple, with a bright spot in Jamie Foxx’s Electro and some impressive acting from a devilish looking Dane Dehann as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin.

Perhaps you saw one of the umpteen trailers for the film. A fair amount of the film is given away through these, although the development of Electro is a highlight that needs to be seen. Of Spider-Man’s enemies, he’s one of my favorites, and the special effects are done right, even if he isn’t wearing a yellow and green suit. But otherwise, there’s a plot by Oscorp to take their bio-technology and militarize it to help keep stockholders happy. Oh, and the Rhino shows up at some point, but in reality, what you are seeing in the trailer almost exactly what is in the film, which was a major letdown. Fewer trailers and dropping the Rhino character would have been a good idea – you already give us a hint at what’s to come from the sequel about 90 minutes into the film! Replete with daddy issues for pretty much everyone (a storyline that will never get old for superheroes), Peter Parker is curious about what happened to his parents, an answer we finally get, spaced out across the entirety of the movie, because why not disjoint the story some more?

The effects are as good as ever but this Matrix-style slow motion movement shit has got to stop. We get it – Peter has Spidey-sense. It doesn’t mean that we need to be reminded of it in every battle scene. It’s kinda part of the lore captured in the Spider-Man song, which is cheesily Parker’s ringtone. The Times Square scene, while impressive, was a bit too much like a B-level Avengers battle, and could have been done without feeling like it was trying too hard.

But the word that stands out among this entire film is “convenient.” It was convenient that all of the characters kept running into each other at Oscorp and in Times Square, clearly the only two places of concern in the NYC of the Spidey-verse. It was convenient to have Gwen Stacy get from the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge, during a black out, in a police car, to the power grid on the other side of the river, in less than 4 minutes, just in time to (unknowingly) stop two planes from colliding in mid-air. Thank God the big fight was there, so the power was restored! It was convenient for Harry to learn he needed Spider-Man’s blood via a file his father just happened to give him as he lay dying, but why his father didn’t seek out Spider-Man is a mystery.

It was convenient for Electro to randomly don a full body suit, especially when his electrical charge seems to fry anything and everyone within a few feet of him. Shorts? No problem. But of all the things for a bad guy made of electricity to wear… exactly who is his tailor? And that was fast, going from shorts to custom fit jumpsuit in a matter of minutes.

It was convenient for Harry to mysteriously come down with the disease his father was dying of, and have it spread quite rapidly in the film. Why didn’t his father die at a young age if it was genetic? It was convenient for Harry to break into the building he just lost control of and knowing exactly where to find Electro… the list is endless, but you get the point. If it didn’t seem like the script was mailed in with “What if we just put all the bad guys in one place and see what happens?”, you’d have the first Amazing Spider-Man, which was quite good.

The potential that SONY has put into the Spider-Man series (their only comic book hero to build a franchise around) is on par with the hopes Disney has for the Avengers and Warner Brothers’ plans for Justice League. There’s no reason that “The Amazing Spider-Man 3” and “4” can’t improve on this mess of a film, with a more consistent narrative, less convenient placement of characters, settings and battles, and less forcing of the villains onto the screen. This trilogy will lead to much more – a Sinister Six story line, a Venom movie, and much more, simply because this is all that SONY has. So we wait and see where this goes and who is cast as the new Doctor Octopus, Vulture and the other bad guys we got to enjoy in this movie.

There is however, a WTF moment late in the movie that make you forget about all this convenience. I won’t spoil it because of the shock and the implications towards the direction that the series can take are now truly interesting and intriguing. But man, what this movie could have been with a better script and one less bad guy.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is rated PG-13 and is playing in various area theaters.

Pete Mason is the author of “The Evolution of the War Film Genre,” for iPad and Kindle.

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