Saturday, May 24, 2014

Film Review - The Amazing Spider-Man 2

With five Spider-Man movies in a dozen years, multiple cartoons, a handful of video games, and countless comic books it’s easy to understand where the stifling sense of franchise fatigue surrounding the latest big budget adventure of the web-slinger stems from. In 2002, when the character first burst on to the big screen with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, the concept and presentation seemed fresh and the potential limitless; twelve years later it’s hard not to think that the series might be running out of steam.
It’s impossible to know the impact the reboot had in this exhaustion. In 2012, when Sony restarted the franchise under the banner of The Amazing Spider-Man, the idea was undoubtedly to breathe new life in to one of their biggest commodities with a new story, new director, and new cast. It seemed to work – Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in particular earned high praise as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy and while the film wasn’t as big of a home run as Raimi’s attempts, it did well enough to ensure the continuation of this incarnation.
Somehow in the two years since that film the air was let out of the balloon. A heavy marketing campaign for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, including a stint at McDonald’s and the Post Office, seemed to land with a thud. With whispers rising about the overabundance of superhero movies, Spider-Man seems to have become the scapegoat of costumed crusader weariness.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 being remarkably unremarkable doesn’t help its plight. It’s not a bad comic book blockbuster, and certainly ranks above the dismal Spider-Man 3 that capped off the last trilogy, but it does nothing to exceed expectations and illicit excitement. It is, as has been the suggested sentiment, just another superhero movie.
What The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets right evidences the potential it possessed. Electro, played by Jamie Foxx, is a visually spectacular character with a classically tragic origin story. The showdown in Times Square that was featured heavily in the trailer is as aesthetically stunning of a scene as can be found in any big budget summer flick. Electro’s human element is what really sets him apart and presented the possibility for him to rise up in to the immortal echelon of on-screen super villains. Unfortunately, the plot swerves away from Electro and ends up regulating him to being not much more than a lackey henchman, which strips him of his initial intrigue.
Many fans were skeptical about the use of Harry Osborn and the Green Goblin so soon after it serving as the underlining thread in the previous trilogy but The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Goblin is fresh and effective thanks in large part to Dane DeHaan. DeHaan plays a solid Harry Osbon but an absolutely excellent and terrifying Green Goblin. It’s not at all hyperbolic to say that in just one film DeHaan has taken the mantle of the Goblin from James Franco.
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone haven’t missed a beat from the last movie. Their chemistry is palpable and they successfully maintain an air of youth and energy in both their respective characters and their relationship. While Garfield still doesn’t fit the nerdy mold many longtime comic fans expect of Peter Parker, he has certainly come in to his own as the brash, wise-cracking wall crawler.
The parallels between The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 are hard to ignore. Both feature visually dazzling characters (Electro and Sandman) that despite their penchant for eye candy and fireworks never quite come all the way to life. Both highlight the Spider-Man/Green Goblin archenemies angle but fail to fully realize it, probably due in part to the distraction of other villains. Most significantly both had the building blocks to be powerful knockout punches for their series but can’t shake a strange, hollow lifelessness that is unbefitting of such a dynamic and charismatic character.  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is good but here’s to hoping that The Amazing Spider-Man 3 will be better.

Grade: C+
Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk