Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Many of us were surprised and skeptical when Sony Pictures announced a reboot of the Spider-Man franchise for release in 2012, only ten years after the Tobey Maguire version debuted, five years after Spider-Man 3, and immediately following the cancellation of Spider-Man 4. Star Andrew Garfield's obvious enthusiasm for the project helped, and the final product was really quite good. It was 5th of 28 films in my rankings that year.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is also a very good movie, though it has its flaws. It is very much a continuation of the first movie, and is still an origin story. The plot delves into the mysteries surrounding the death of Peter's parents, and deals with the lasting consequences of the work being done at Oscorp. It explores the personal and social consequences of Peter's actions as Spider-Man. These are the meat of the story, and they are handled well.

Unfortunately, the main villain, while tied in nicely to the world, has little to nothing to do with the themes of the movie. This creates an odd disconnect where the major action sequences are a distraction from the real plot. This isn't a huge problem, but it is a symptom of epic sequel bloat, and worries me in regard to the inevitable third movie.

Marvel Studios proper has done well so far avoiding sequel bloat, but the previous Sony Spider-Man franchise was riddled with it, much to its detriment. This movie has two and a half villains, which is only half or one too many. The writers could (and should) have trimmed a villain and about twenty minutes off the running time; the result would have been a tighter, better movie.

I'm being picky, though. This is a good movie. As noted in my review of the 2012 movie, Andrew Garfield's acting style might annoy some people, but if you made it through that one, this one will be no problem. Emma Stone is wonderful. As in the 2012 movie, her Gwen Stacy is a confident, capable, complete character. Dane DeHaan does a fine job as Harry Osborn, though his hair is distracting. Jamie Foxx delivers the weakest of the main performances, but his character isn't written as well as the others.

The special effects are very good indeed, as they should be for a movie which cost $200 million to make. 3D continues to be unnecessary, but at least it is done reasonably well in this case.

If you liked the 2012 Spider-Man, or at least didn't actively dislike it, then I think you'll like the sequel. If you didn't see that one, definitely give it a try before watching this one. While it isn't strictly required, it is a good idea, and cheaper than going to the theater.

Performance: 3.5/5
Plot: 4/5
Production: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5
Bechdel: Fail
Reverse-Bechdel: Pass
Mako Mori: Pass
What are these?

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. Lone Survivor
3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
4. The Wind Rises
5. The Lego Movie
6. Lust For Love
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
8. Pompeii
9. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
10. I, Frankenstein
11. Monuments Men
12. Knights of Badassdom
13. Divergent
14. Brick Mansions
15. 300: Rise of an Empire
16. RoboCop
17. Winter's Tale
18. Transcendence
19. Noah
20. The Legend of Hercules
21. Need For Speed
22. 3 Days to Kill

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