Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Minor spoilers throughout. Major spoilers have a warning.

Here we go again. This sequel to a reboot not unexpectedly feels very familiar; a different version of a story we've seen many times before. Parts from our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man's last movie are even reiterated just in case you're clueless as to the origin story of Spider-Man (as if!) rendering the last movie all but unnecessary. And we are subjected yet again to Spidey's worries that the people of NYC don't appreciate him, that he is constantly putting his girl in danger, and that he won't be able to keep his secret. However, the fact that we've seen it before is the only thing making it slightly tiresome, because it is done with more grace than ever. And there's more here than just reiteration, and a lot of it is unexpected. Unexpected and good.

Nice view. But I'd still be worried about falling without my web-shooters.

Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker's energy, charm and likability continue to be unending. He is what makes these movies worthwhile. Snarky and hip, yet understanding, and his heroism is fully fledged. He's just as likely to help a kid being pestered by bullies as he is to do something to garner fame and attention. I realize the kid was little more than a ploy to make us see how sweet Spidey is, but come on; he was adorable, introducing himself like that. He knows he's needed and can no more resist lending a helping-web than he can resist his beautiful, sassy girl, Gwen. He and Emma Stone are so natural together that during some of their scenes of playful, intimate banter, I got a distinct impression of being a third wheel and thought that I should probably leave them alone.

I wonder if they banter like that in real life...

Ever since I saw him in the trailer I knew Dane DeHaan's Harry would be the highlight of this movie, and I was right. DeHaan's fantastic, detailed style of acting is one you'd usually find in indie films, and it sets him apart. His intricate performance was bursting -- begging for more screen-time, and not only made him perfectly believable as the bitter, neglected son of an extremely cold and even more wealthy man, but makes us understand his conflict, and be involved in his development. All without being bashed over the head with the information via the script -- simply paying attention reveals it naturally.

Then he abruptly becomes the Green Goblin, and from there the comic style of the movie worked against him. The villain side would work better as a more subtly and darkly crazy, rather than a cackling villain typical of cheesy superhero flicks and episodes of Phineas and Ferb. Fortunately, his time spent cackling was limited, giving plenty of opportunity for the character to be molded to DeHaan's better abilities for later. (I hope I'm not assuming too much thinking he'll return? Obviously he needs to.)

"Isn't that the question of the day."

Then there's the big villain, Electro. Jamie Foxx's performance is of course great, before and after being superpowered. But the after is the real him; the before is just teasing us for the main event, and when it comes, then he is complete. He rocks the villainous monologues, the maniacal cackle -- or crackle in his case -- and the glowing blue skin, and is over-the-top and out-of-this world. But his origin story and motivations are as cliche as cliche gets, and therefore I hardly cared one way or another about him once he made the unbelievable leap from mild mannered and invisible to fantastic, vengeful and electric.

Electro and Harry both have what the other lacks. It was all motivation and development for Harry, (up to a point) and it was brilliant, but he wasn't able to cut loose; for Electro, his ability to cut loose and embrace the insanity so confidently was his storyline's saving grace.

Other fun but less involved additions to the cast include Chris Cooper as Norman Osbourne, Paul Giamatti obviously having fun as a crazy Russian who loves crashing into things, Felicity Jones as a sly young lady named Felicia. And I happily assume the latter will be showing her face again. And apparently B.J. Novak's small part was a comic villain as well. I wonder if number three will be even more baddie-packed than this one. They might just be able to get away with it; they managed the number in this one unexpectedly well.

(Major Spoilers!)
A certain person's dying was sadly not very sad, even though I didn't expect it to really happen. I'm mostly just surprised because of the great chemistry Gwen and Peter had, and I wonder how the void will fill with her gone. (Maybe they'll let Shailene Woodley be Mary Jane after all.) The foreshadowing was so obvious that I figured it was just a big bluff to mess with us, so the whole scene went by before I believed it, and by then it was too late to be moved. So it was my bad, not the film's. A sucker punch would've perhaps been more effective at manipulating emotions, but honestly the better way was the way we witnessed -- contrived, but the considerate, tasteful way.
(End spoilers)

Wow, I haven't put any pics of the suit yet. So here we go.

The movie pops and sparkles (sometimes literally when Electro's on screen) with superpowered effects as Spidey swings and fights and saves people at the last second with the flashiest style we've seen yet. If any movies should be in 3D, it's these ones. And the way they show off the Spidey-sense -- with slow-motion, showing us what he sees in a split second, then going back and letting us see how he handles it -- I enjoyed that very much, particularly the first time it happens.

It was pretty jumbled at times, like debris was flying around and falling into random scenes trying to pull it all together, but really it didn't bother me. It was fun that way; it felt upbeat that way; and even though it was too long, it didn't feel too long. And I have to think to remember flaws instead of them sticking out obviously. It stands alone capably, has enough heart for a superhero movie, is full of talented, entertaining performances, and does what it's meant to do. I'm surprised to say this, but it is more its own, and therefore better than the first one. Color me... pleasantly shocked. So, when's the third one coming?

One more for good measure, and because it's a fun one.

8 comments:

  1. I am glad that you enjoyed the movie! I agree, DeHaan killed it in the movie! I was excited to see him in the role, and he most certainly delivered. I also agree that he should have been better in the Goblin suit with his voice and laugh.

    *Major spoilers*
    Too bad her death scene was not effective for you. :/ Honestly, movies almost never effect in that at all, but this is one of the saddest movie moments I have seen in theaters ever maybe.

    -James

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    1. Yes, I was very happy that the movie overall was way better than I expected at first, and very happy that my impression of him was right. Hopefully they'll figure out a way to make the Goblin work better for the future.

      (Spoilers!)
      Yeah, but it's okay by me. It's not like I didn't think it was sad or anything, I did -- it just that it didn't make me feel sad... if that makes any sense. I guess I could've worded it better in my post. I was just too distracted by my thoughts to be in the moment I think. :P

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  2. I agree with everything in this blog except the death scene was super emotional for me. But wouldn't be crazy if they focused more on sinister six and venom stand alone that are coming out and peter didnt get a love interest in amazing spiderman 3? Not sure how I'd feel about that.

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    1. Thanks Anthony! I think I am the odd one out in this situation. Maybe the second viewing will work better. I do think it was well-done. I really wish Shailene Woodley would still be Mary Jane! She filmed some scenes for this movie but then they cut her out, apparently from the series entirely, which is very sad.

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  3. I'll rent this one but the spoiler about the death is sad because that was what made these movies a bit "different." That being said, I realize it was to make way for a certain iconic character this new franchise hasn't introduced, still... I'm not happy with it. ;)

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    1. Yeah, it does seem like they threw away a very good thing with that, but I suppose they know what they're doing. I hope they do anyway! True, and that was really exciting until I discovered that she was unlikely to be played by Shailene Woodley anymore... that would've been amazing. :) I hope you enjoy it!

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  4. Well you've certainly sold this movie to me! It sounds a lot more fun and interesting than the last one. I might just have to see it after all. Once I'm done with Days of Future Past that is :)

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    1. Oh good, I certainly thought it was! Well I hope good -- I hope you enjoy it if you do see it! Though if you liked the first one even only just a little then you probably will. But yeah, Days of Future Past should take priority! :D

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