Saturday, May 24, 2014

Movie Review: Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man is a character that's always been very near and dear to my heart. Probably like most people my age, I was introduced to Peter Parker through the Fox Kids' Spider-Man cartoon and one of the first comics I ever purchased was a back issue of The Amazing Spider-Man from the 1970's. The adventures of Peter Parker left a lasting impression on me and helped influence my superhero tastes.

Keep that in mind when I say The Amazing Spider-Man 2 disappointed me. Now, don't let that lead you to believe that I hated the film because that couldn't be further from the truth. I actually rather enjoyed the film for what it was and would recommend seeing it if you have the time. However, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had so much potential and could have been spectacular. Unfortunately, its problems cause it to fall short of reaching those heights.

Like the previous film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tells the story of Peter Parker, a teenager from Queens who developed super powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Now, he must balance the demands of his everyday life with the growing responsibilities of being a superhero. After saving the city from the vicious Lizard, Peter has to deal with a shocking new villain and the numerous secrets surrounding the disappearance of his parents and Oscorp. Will Peter be able to protect the city and his loved ones, or will this be the end for Spider-Man?

The biggest problem with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is its unfocused narrative. At one moment, the film is a romantic drama between Peter and Gwen Stacy, at another its a conspiracy movie focusing on the mysteries of Oscorp and his parent's connections to the corporation, then its a movie about the struggles of being a superhero and how great power also leads to great responsibility. While each plot point is relatively fine on its own, bringing them all together into one film causes the story to be less cohesive and very muddled.

There are also times where certain subplots either end in plot cul-de-sacs or seem to only be included to tease future movies. The best examples of this are the two scenes that contain Aleksei Sytsevich (a.k.a. The Rhino). He appears in one of the first few scenes of the movie to give us an example of Peter being a hero, then disappears for the remainder of the film to randomly show up at the end piloting a gigantic, robotic suit designed to look like a rhino. You could easily replace both of these scenes and lose absolutely nothing.

However, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does have two very strong points: its characters and its action scenes.

Like its predecessor, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 possesses a menagerie of interesting characters with great interactions played by wonderful actors. Andrew Garfield continues to be perfect in the role of Peter Parker, capturing the cocky jokester persona of Spider-Man and balancing it with the nerdy outsider that is his secret identity. Emma stone is equally as perfect, making us truly care about Gwen and you believe the two character's relationship due to their excellent chemistry. Finally, I feel like I would be doing Jaime Foxx a disservice if I didn't mention his fantastic performance as Electro. In the hands of a less talented actor, Matt Dillon would have come off as an insulting caricature, but Foxx makes the character believable and you feel how tragic his situation is.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also excels in the action department. Almost every action scene is kinetic and visually interesting, making you feel the weight of everything that is happening and is incredibly entertaining. I'd also like to applaud the decision to utilize slow motion to visualize Peter's "spidey sense". It works perfectly and really gets the idea across.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a good film that unfortunately could have been an excellent one. If the story was just as good as the characters and action scenes, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would have truly been amazing.

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