Monday, 28 April 2014

The Amazing Spider-man 2 (review) *SPOILERS*

Time for another review! This week, I'm talking about The Amazing Spider-man 2.
I took a look back at some of my old blog posts and realised that my movie reviews are a bit lacking. From now on, they're going to be veeeery different and hugely spoileriffic, hence the massive spoiler tag in the title.

Aaaaaanyway, onto the review. Considering what this new, rebooted franchise has developed into, I think it's worth going over a little backstory.

The Amazing Spider-man came out two years ago (my, they've gone quickly) and as much as I enjoyed it, it was completely unnecessary. Yes, I'm all for another superhero movie, but it was just Sony flailing around, trying to hold onto Spidey's film rights. It had some good character development regarding Peter, Gwen, Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and although the CGI Lizard was fantastic (notice how I avoided saying amazing there, that would be too punny too soon in the review) he wasn't a memorable villain. The film freshened up decade-old ground regarding Pete's transformation into Spider-man, and sat snugly in the box office despite a lot of cynicism from Marvel fans and cinemagoers alike.

It was a standard superhero movie. Enjoyable, and perhaps slightly above average in quality, but nothing special. Still, I was looking forward to the sequel, and the reumours that surfaced about seeing Green Goblin onscreen again were fairly enticing.

Then the trailer for the sequel dropped. My jaw went with it. Jamie Foxx as Electro? And the guy from Chronicle's in it too? Is that Chris Cooper on the cast list? Is Emma Stone wearing the clothes Gwen Stacy died in? Hot off the back of all of this, December 2013 brought more Spidey news: as well as third and fourth installments, we would be getting a Sinister Six movie and, most intriguing of all...Venom. As in a movie about Venom. The anti-Spider-man, and possibly the most popular Spider-man villain of all time (please don't quote me on that). Fans have waited for a Venom movie for a long time, but it looks like one may finally be out of production purgatory.
Finally, last week, I saw the film, and it met most of my expectations. Aside from an underwhelming and farcical backstory for Max Dillon/Electro which bordered on absurd, and an underdeveloped subplot regarding the creation of the Sinister Six, The Amazing Spider-man 2 delivered everything that it promised: high-octane action, the continued development of Pete and Gwen's 'complicated' relationship, the return of Spider-man's notorious banter, and a springboard for potential spin-offs (all of which I welcome with open arms). Free of the need to establish Peter Parker's character, as the first installment did, The Amazing Spider-man 2 swung into new territory, and the franchise is so much the better for it.
I'll get my two gripes out of the way quickly. First off, Max Dillon was stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. He meets Spider-man once, then becomes a bit of a nut and starts pretending that Spidey's his best friend. He plasters his wall with pictures of the web-slinger. He even make-believes that his birthday cake was left by Spider-man. Contrast that to the confident, slick, gravelley-voiced Electro that we get after the Times Square sequence...I'm not sure it works. It's not as well-crafted a 'villain's journey' as Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus in Spider-man 2 (back in the mists of time, in 2004, which is an age in cinematic terms) and doesn't feel cohesive. It's like watching two separate characters. The other gripe was with Harry's transformation into the Green Goblin. There's very little development, and although it fills its purpose well, you can't help feeling that there should be more to it.

What really set the film apart was the chemistry between Pete and Gwen. No surprises, since Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are a couple in real life; that spark comes across so strongly in the film that you start to feel like a third wheel. Therein lies The Amazing Spider-man 2's greatest success: it creates lovable, believable characters, Max Dillon excluded. Pete, Gwen, Aunt May, even Harry Osborn (to an extent) seem like they could be real.

So it's heartbreaking when Gwen Stacy dies.
(you were warned about spoilers)

I'm going to talk about that in a separate post, since the death of Gwen Stacy is...well,  just wait for the article. Instead, I'll round this off by talking about what I consider to be the best sequence in the film, which is the Times Square sequence. Max, having woken up from his eel-related accident blue and electrically-charged, wanders into Times Square, hungry for more electricity. He's scared, terrified of himself and his new abilities, and just as frightened of the police, who do their utmost to subdue him but to no avail. Spider-man arrives on the scene to talk him down, and it goes well until a pesky sniper sees his moment.

There are several aspects of this scene which make it so memorable. Firstly, we see what makes Spider-man more of an individual than most other superheroes: he takes the time to know the people he saves, to truly be their "friendly neighbourhood Spider-man". He repeatedly calls Max his "buddy" and creates a sense of friendship to try to calm him, and it actually works for a good long time. Had it been Superman, he would no doubt have solved the problem by levelling a block on Electro's head.

Speaking of Man of Steel, it's important to note just how many times Spider-man puts saving civilians before fighting the bad guy. He stops a group of pedestrians getting electrocuted by a Max-charged handrail, and saves an old man and a cop from being hit by the same car, thrown twice, and all of that's just in one scene. "Friendly neighbourhood Spider-man" is definitely ringing true now.

So, that's my opinion on why The Amazing Spider-man 2 was, wait for it, amazing. Sure, it had its flaws, but so do plenty of Oscar-winning films. As far as superhero movies go, The Amazing Spider-man 2 is a fine example, and probably one of the best Spider-man movies to date. Honestly, I'd say it's joint-first with the original Spider-man 2. Best of all, there's plenty more to look forward to.

The Amazing Spider-man 2 is currently in cinemas worldwide, unless you're in the USA, in which case you have to wait until May 2nd. Not long, my friends. Not long.