2014-05-02

The Amzing Spider-Man 2 – One in a million

by Yo Snyder

Spidey is back with his fifth big-screen adventure in 12
years. However, this time it isn’t just about Spidey’s latest adventure. No,
Amazing Spider-Man 2 also wants to set things up for a larger “universe” of
Spider-Man movies ala the Avengers cinematic universe. So the question is, does
it succeed in either goal? Here’s what Justin and Yo had to say about it:

Y – In general I liked it. The action was big and felt very
Spider-Man-y (if that makes sense). Garfield continues to do a great job of
embodying both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Also,this was one of those rare
movies that actually knew how to use 3D to enhance the experience rather than
having it be distracting or just a gimmick. 

J – Being so few
movies utilize the 3D in a meaningful way to make the extra cost worth it, I
have to agree with you on its use. The 3D in the final sequences alone makes
the cost worthwhile. I have to admit, I even flinched a couple of times as
objects flew toward the audience. 

Y – Ha ha, I bravely stood my ground. I also think some of
the music was used to really good effect. 

J – Big time! Using
dark and heavy music as villains come into their own or quirky music as a
character puzzles over a situation added a good element to the scenes. One item
I can’t quite figure out is if music lyrics were playing in Electro’s head or
if he was hearing voices or what was going on when he was still human. 

Y – Yeah, that was one of the more interesting uses of sound
design in general, and music specifically. I’m not sure if it was in Electro’s
head or was just the sound track. However, I think it worked. Now, follow me
here; I didn’t always like it, or some other areas where “quirky”
music was used, but I do think it was an effective use of sound and music, and
while it wasn’t always my favorite, it was far more interesting than just have
a generic instrumental.

J – Speaking of
instrumentals, we seem to get a completely unneeded scene of impending airplane
doom that might be for no other reason than to enjoy a dramatic music score of
trumpets. I laughed at how out of place that scene was and how dramatic the
music score was for it.

Y – That airplane stuff was a good example of some of the
glaring issues with the film. It just wasn’t needed. At all. It didn’t raise
the stakes, it didn’t add drama, it just took us away from the actual events we
cared about and was distracting. No need for it, and it took up valuable time
and space in film that needed all it could get as it hurriedly tried to wrap
things up while set things up for other films.

J – Yea, the movie definitely
had some flaws to mention. In fact, some of the flaws really held back the movie
from being Amazing… ha!

Y – Hmmm, I was wondering when you’d work that in. The movie
definitely has some issues that no amount of 3D razzle dazzle could cover up.
Let’s start with the villains. While this movie doesn’t quite Batman and Robin it with its multiple
villains, it does lack focus. Electro is set up to the be the sympathetic big
bad, initially. However, something about his back story and motivations (or
lack thereof) just didn’t click for me.

 J – While I enjoyed
seeing Electro unleash his powers and fly around on lightning bolts, I have to
agree that his character didn’t click for me either. I couldn’t figure out if
he was supposed by a bumbling idiot, a hidden genius, a nerd, or a psychotic – cue
the voices in his head and odd music…

Y – His battles were quite impressive, but the character
lacked focus, that’s for sure. Was he the main bad guy? A misunderstood,
sympathetic bad guy ala Mr. Freeze? Was he Harry Osborne’s lackey?

J – Exactly. By the conclusion of the movie, he
almost seemed sub-plot material even though he was (supposed to be) the primary
bad guy in the movie. I was also a bit unimpressed with his initial
interactions with Harry, they seemed overdone and left me feeling disconnected
from the character.

Y – What did you think about some of the other villains?

J – I have to admit
going into the movie I had a strong fear they were going to go overboard
introducing all kinds of villains just to set up sequels, which I don’t think
they did. While it may have lacked some focus, I don’t think it was as bad as I
imagined. However, I think they fell short on Harry Osborne.

Y – That’s putting it mildly. Harry’s interactions with
Peter and his story is far more intriguing than the material with Electro, and I
really felt like it was building to something great, but then it was a
conclusion was crammed in a fast-paced, limited climax that robbed it of much
of its emotion and power. This movie really should have been a set up for the
focus on the Harry/Peter/Gwen dynamic to take place solely in the next movie
instead of the rushed treatment it go here. Easily the most disappointing
aspect of the movie.

J – That is such a
key dynamic in the Spidey universe, to not give it the time deserved seemed to
rob the story of meaning. In fact, I was a bit disappointed by how shallow the
friendship seemed and how quickly it started/concluded in order to get out the
final scenes. Had they done it right, I would have been a lot more sympathetic
to future reconciliations or betrayals. As it stands, we are not left with
sympathy for the relationship as much as anticipation for villain development
which is kind of shame.

Y – Plus, it ties to a major plot point that I won’t spoil
here (but shouldn’t be hard to figure out) that should have been tremendously
impactful but came off as rather hollow, and again, rushed. Credit Garfield for
giving it the level of emotion it did have, but it’s a big moment that ended up
feeling like a small part of a very busy ending. More’s the pity, In truth, it
kind of soured the rest of the movie for me, the way that was handled.

J – Yeah, the movie
seemed to set up some big reveals without delivering.

Y – Exactly. All the mystery surrounding Peter’s father and
his work seemed to fizzle rather badly as well after so much build-up. So I
guess all these issues really boil down to the fact that this movie laid the
foundation for some great stories and character moments, and then rushed to
finish all of those in order to get setups in place for other movies in the
soon-to-be Spidey Cinematic Universe (thanks, Avengers).

 J – I still don’t
know exactly what the big secret was with Peter’s father and with as much time
as they spent building it up, the “reveal” didn’t seem all that revealing. In
general one item that I find hard to deal with in Marc Webb’s Spider Man movies
is the disjointed dialog. Characters who can’t seem to follow a stream of
thought or mumble out parts of their lines. I think they are going for a high
school nervousness or something akin to what high school conversations may be
like, but for me it’s just plain distracting. The movie introduced some interesting
Christian themes too. From salvation found in blood to needing hope to keep
going. But one theme I know you found intriguing was when Max felt singled out,
why was that so meaningful to you?

Y – That scene occurs early in the movie when Max was
talking about how out of all the millions of people in the city, Spider-Man
saved him. There was an awe and wonder and, yes, even some reverence in how he
talked about that. Dare I say it; it was almost spiritual.

J – Ah yes, Max can’t
believe that out of everyone Spider-Man deals with, he cared about Max
personally.

Y – Exactly. I know there are differing views on how to
approach this, but quite frankly, it is rather awe-inspiring and wondrous to
think that Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead …for me. Who am I?
I’m nobody. Jesus didn’t wait till we were friends to save me, he didn’t wait
for me to “get my act together” to save me, he just went to the cross
and saved me because he loved me long before I paid him any regard.
That’s…well, amazing! (Had to work that in for myself as well) Out of all the
billions of people, Jesus did that for me…and you…and you…and anyone who
will let him. Wow.

J – I think it’s
important for us to take hope in, find strength in, and constantly remind
ourselves of the awesome love Christ shows us as individuals when he died on
the cross. We often find ourselves lost in complications, stress, and bad
situations, much like Spidey, and lose sight of where our hope comes from. Spidey
went back to Gwen to find his foundation, we can go back to Christ.

Despite the issues, I
still think the movie was enjoyable. Some of the camera/CGI work that sends us
flying along with the web slinger through downtown New York or puts us next to
Electro as he dances in electricity really impressed me. Had they done justice
to developing stories such as Peter’s father or Peter’s relationship with
Harry, this movie would have been outstanding. Overlooking some faults, I find
myself eagerly awaiting sequels and seeing the Spidey universe open up. I would
give it a 5 out of 7.

Y – The flaws definitely hinder the film’s potential, as
does the burden of needing to be a launching platform for a whole cinematic
universe moving forward. It teeters, but never fully tumbles out of control.
Credit the strength of the lead actors for keeping things from completely
derailing. It’s a thrilling and fun movie with a lot of squandered potential,
so I’d agree, 5 out of 7 sounds right. We should also mention that the movie is
rated PG-13 for the typical super hero violence seen in these kinds of movies.
There are some mildly intense scenes with the villains, but this is nowhere
near as dark Iron Man 3 or the Batman movies, if that helps give some
perspective.