2014-05-09

Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Be Greater Than Your Suffering

by Yo Snyder

The impact of The
Avengers
is being felt in full effect this summer as other movie studios
try to catch up and turn their comic book based properties into multi-film,
intertwining, cinematic universes. The
Amazing Spider-Man 2
is the first to try and create an “Avenger-like”
cinematic universe, with threads being put in place for spin-offs like the
Sinister Six. Plus, there’s a Venom movie in the works, and not to mention a
couple more sequels in the Amazing Spidey franchise. That’s a lot to try and
build up to in just one movie. I had some genuine concerns that this movie
would be more Batman and Robin than Avengers, and to a certain extent that’s
true. However, the real letdown of this film is that in its effort to build-up
all of this other stuff, it unfortunately short-changes one of the most
momentous moments in Spider-Man’s career. The impact and emotion of that moment
just doesn’t have any room to breathe, which is a tragedy. Still, things don’t
quite topple out of control despite all the plates spinning about in this
movie, and it has some genuinely impressive action set-pieces that are, in a
rare example of this, actually enhanced by a 3D viewing. Match that up with
some great music and strong performances from the leads, and you have a movie
that’s hard not to like, even if it could use a bit of simplifying and cutting
out the excess.

A perfect example of this movie trying to do too much,
during the climactic battle, there’s a small sub-plot of how a city-wide
blackout affects the airport and the airplanes trying to land. Two airplanes
are about to collide, and if the power isn’t restored, a lot of people will
die! It’s heightened drama and high stakes for our web-slinging hero…except, he
isn’t really aware of any of this. He has plenty to handle as it is, and does
it really raise the stakes if the hero is ignorant of what’s at stake? More
importantly, does any of that aerial drama really add anything to climatic
final battle? No, no it doesn’t. If anything, it distracts from it. It’s
completely unnecessary and a perfect example of this film not always knowing
when too much is too much.

Another example is how the film basically rushes through the
dramatic first battle of Spidey and his former friend Harry Osborne who has,
once again, become the Green Goblin. While the movie does a good job of establishing
their friendship early on, it takes a storyline that really should have been
saved for a movie of its own and crammed it in to a second ten-minute finale of
this movie. There is so much emotion and drama that could have been explored
here after laying such a solid foundation in this movie that it’s a shame for
it to be dealt with so quickly, all in service to set up the next spin-off.
This stuff is so key and so momentous in the life of Spider-Man, it really
deserved better than the rushed treatment received here. In truth, I was really
enjoying this movie up until this particular ending moment, which really kind
of soured the rest of the mostly good experience I had watching this movie. If
you thought Return of the King had too
many “endings” (which personally I liked), Amazing
Spider-Man 2
has quite a few “endings” of its own (which I didn’t like),
most of which feel rather crammed.

However, it’s not all bad. As I said, the action is pretty
spectacular, and it’s made all the more immersive with some well-handled 3D
effects. This movie also makes interesting use of music, which while not always
my favorite, I had to admit was very effective in setting modes and the tone of
particular scenes. Then there’s the huge likability of Garfield and Watson. I
still say Garfield has done the best job of embodying both Spider-Man and Peter
Parker, and I thought this move showed Spider-Man at his most Spider-Man-y.
Plus the chemistry between Watson and Garfield is just infectious, which again
makes their key scene so disappointing with how it’s rush along. Still, without
the strong performances from these two leads, I just don’t see this movie
faring as well as it does.

Towards the end, the film makes a rather poignant statement;
be greater than that which we suffer. That sentence pretty much sums up what we
love about super heroes; they find a way to truly be greater than what they
suffer. And let’s face it, super heroes suffer a lot. Their stories are almost
always filled with tragedy, but they find a way to overcome. I think that’s
part of what is so appealing to us. We all know there’s a lot of suffering in
this world, and we like the idea that suffering and tragedy can be overcome,
that we can be greater than that which we suffer. That isn’t always easy, and
in fact, at times it’s downright impossible. Those are the times when we need
help; help that comes when we’ve come to the end of our own strength and means.
The Bible tells us there’s a loving God who’s willing do just that; to help us
when we can’t go any further, when we can’t overcome on our own, when we can’t
find the greatness to overcome that which we suffer. He can help us do just
that, which doesn’t mean making it all go away. No hero magically has all their
tragedy and suffering wiped away, they grow greater because of it. That’s
exactly what God, in his great love, will do for us; make us greater than that
which we suffer.

The Amazing Spider-Man
2
is movie that wants to do more than it really should. It tries to do too
much, and as a result, misses an opportunity to tell one of the great, pivotal
stories of Spider-Man’s career. This is the “Avengers affect” at it’s worse;
where a movie like this one sacrifices good storytelling the name of expanding
a cinematic universe that’s “Avengers-like” and trying to do that all in just
one movie. There was a great movie in here, but burdened with the need to set
up so many other things, that great movie gets lost. In the end, we simply get
a good movie, one that doesn’t quite fail like Batman and Robin, but one that also doesn’t really do justice to
the need of setting up an Avengers-like franchise. This could have been one of
the greatest Spider-Man stories ever told. Ah well, maybe greatness will
somehow arise out of the tragedy of that missed opportunity.

Score 5 out of 7: Amazing Spider-Man 2 is tons of fun. It’s
thrilling, exciting, funny, and heartfelt, but it fails to stick the landing.
In fact, it stumbles quite badly in the end, which brings down the rest of the
movie. It is rated PG-13, and while some of the action is pretty intense, it’s
not near as brutal or dark as something like Iron Man 3 or The Dark Knight.