Friday, May 2, 2014

Movie Review: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"

In the follow up to 2012's reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, we find Spider-Man on a journey to further figure out the mystery surrounding his parents' death, all the while going toe-to-toe with the new big bad guy in town, known as Electro.

I'm gonna get straight to the point, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not as good as the other Spider-Man films, but it is a piece of popcorn entertainment that will entertain for most of it's two plus hour run time.  However, as a fan, I cannot lie and say that I am not disappointed by this film, and as an amateur film critic, I have to be honest and point out how cluttered the film often feels.

In all honesty, they just tried to pack too much into this one movie to try and set up future films and spin-offs, like Venom and The Sinister Six.  There is not a clear focus to this film, unlike any of the other Spider-Man films.  It's unclear as to what the filmmakers were actually trying to do here.  Is it the story of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy?  Is it the story of how Spidey met Electro?  Or is it the story of the Green Goblin?  It's all of those things and a whole lot more, but there is never enough time devoted to any one of those story threads for them to feel fully fleshed out and satisfying on their own.  I really think the culprit for all of this is in the Spidey producers trying to be like Marvel Studios and The Avengers.

No longer can a superhero movie be simply a good standalone movie, and if that one is successful, they make another one with a similar, single-minded focus.  Now, in the wake of the massive amount of cash The Avengers brought in, every superhero film franchise has to create this larger than life canvas of multiple films intersecting to create a larger story.  While I love The Avengers, here's one of the things that Marvel Studios has done for almost all of their films, which The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did not do.  They made every one of their superhero films good standalone films on their own right, and not just films that had to be seen in the larger context to be liked or understood.  I mean, look at both of the Captain America movies.  Take those away from the context of The Avengers, and they're phenomenal films irregardless, but add in the ingredient that is The Avengers, and you get super awesomeness.  The thing is, the key is making one good film, and not placing so much focus on the future that you forget about the present.  Of course, what really makes me feel conflicted here is that there are just a good many things that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does right.

Andrew Garfield is once again phenomenal as Spider-Man, and Emma Stone is even more lovable as Gwen Stacy (as if that was possible).  The film truly shines in the romantic scenes between Stone and Garfield, particularly because those are the scenes, alongside the music montages, where it feels like director Marc Webb is most comfortable.  There are moments where I see that spark from his music video work and (500) Days of Summer, and in the midst of all the spectacle and bombastic action, it is those moments that stuck with me more than anything else.  Somewhere in the midst of all of the excess that this film has, there is a very innocent and true romance, and I think that is the real focus of this film, but it's often pushed aside for too long to develop something that may not pay off for another film or two.  As a matter of fact, if the film was purely about Peter and Gwen's romantic woes and Electro, I'd have been a happier Spider-Man fan, because I really like what actor Jamie Foxx and the filmmakers did with Electro, alas he gets the shaft after about the first hour mark.

Maybe I'm becoming a bit of a movie curmudgeon, but the more and more I analyze films, the more I realize, the simpler you often make the story, the better the film.  While that may not always be the case, I think here, it is.  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is just too bloated, feeling like three different films crammed into the run time of just one.  While it is a film that you will have fun at, laugh at, and actually feel something at, it is not a great film, it's simply okay.  I actually remember reading another review the other day where they said, had this film been made in the Nineties, it would be one of the best superhero movies ever made, but made now, when we have so many other top notch superhero films, many of which being other Spider-Man movies, it just pales in comparison.  Even still, if you can accept that this is not the greatest Spider-Man film, you will enjoy yourself with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which I did for at least three-fourths of this film, I just wish it had all tied together a little better.

I give The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a C+!

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