Sunday, May 4, 2014

Amazing Spider-Man: Shockingly Emotional (a movie review post)

Let me just state right here at the beginning that I am still not in favor of Sony's reboot of the Spider-Man franchise; however, seeing that they have, and that this movie is based off of the previous (un)Amazing movie and not Raimi's series, I have to say... okay, I'll sum it up like this: This one made me tear up.

I think I've mentioned before that I don't cry at movies.

I'll try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but I am going to talk a bit about the set up. More movies need a good exposition; it sets up the emotional impact.

There's a significant difference between "starting in the middle of the action" and starting in the middle of some action. Increasingly, "starting in the middle of the action" is a bad thing to do. AS2 chooses to start in the middle of some action, the obligatory car chase. This action scene, though, serves as the setup for much of the rest of the movie: we see that Peter is haunted by the death Captain Stacy (and his admonition to safeguard Gwen by staying away from her), Spider-Man saves Max Dillon (though, in one of the few just nonsensical moments in the movie, he stops to save this one guy from getting hit by a car while doing nothing to stop the dozens of cars that are being destroyed), and we are introduced to Aleksei Sytsevich.

This scene sets up two of the three major conflicts for the movie: the romantic conflict between Peter and Gwen, and the physical conflict between Spider-Man and Electro. The third conflict revolves around Peter's continued exploration into the deaths of his parents, a story line they are developing at a nice pace and are handling better than expected. [This is spoilery, but, being someone who never knew his father, the scene between Peter and May was excellent. His assertion to her in the face of her reluctance to tell him anything that "it's not about you" is so right.]

And that's as far as I can go without giving things away but, from an emotional standpoint, this movie is way beyond the first one. Garfield really brings you along on his emotional ride as both Peter Parker and as Spider-Man, and I don't think that's a small thing. Like I said, I teared up.

Emma Stone put in a great performance as Gwen Stacy. Jamie Foxx was much better as Max Dillon than as Electro, although it's hard to tell how much of anything he did as Electro. Dane DeHaan put in a convincing enough Harry Osborn [although I'm not sure how I feel about them bringing that character in as Peter's "best friend" when they hadn't seen each other in a decade]. And Paul Giamatti was almost unrecognizable as the Russian thug Aleksei Sytsevich. Sally Field continues to not really do it for as Aunt May, but I'll give her a pass, sort of, for that one scene with Peter about his parents.

Also, kudos for introducing us to the character of Felicia, whom I have to suppose is Felicia Hardy and the future Black Cat.

The only real flub of the movie is a stupid science thing they did during a discussion about spiders and how spiders have cells that can "self repair" while humans don't. If humans' cells couldn't self repair, we'd all die the first time we got a cut or a broken bone or whatever. Sure, they're trying to talk about the rapid-style healing/regeneration of, like, Wolverine, but they do it in a piss-poor manner that makes it sound like people can't heal from, well, anything.

But that moment aside, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a much better movie than its predecessor. This one has all of the emotional impact that the first one was missing, possibly because they are no longer relying on what we ought to already know about Spider-Man and telling us what we don't know about Spider-Man. Their Spider-Man. So, again, if you like super hero movies and lots of action, this movie is for you but, unlike with most of these kinds of movies, you might want to bring a tissue for this one.


  1. My review is up today, and I thought it wasn't as good as the first, mostly because it was too long. (Cut that plane scene, which was completely irrelevant, and that was five minutes right there.)
    But it was really emotional at the end (and for that reason, I'll probably never watch it again) and the scenes involving Gwen and Peter were the best in the movie.

  2. Good movie review.
    Enjoyed reading it.

  3. I'll have to watch this at some point. I'm sure I already know what the big emotional thing is. The fact they were originally casting a Mary Jane Watson was sort of a giveaway. And since apparently they're introducing Black Cat as well. I doubt there's much of a spoiler for people who have even a rudimentary knowledge of Spider-Man comics--like me!

  4. I'll probably watch it eventually—when it's out on DVD maybe. I never feel the need to watch Spiderman movies in the theater. Avengers, yes. Spiderman, no.

    Still good to know there's emotional impact to be found, though. That makes me want to watch it more.

  5. Yeah, I already know what that big emotional thing is just because I know the history of the comics, but I'm still looking forward to checking this out, even if people are giving it sort of mixed reviews.

    Also, just to let you know, I'm about half way through this chapter and trying to finish it up soon. Will keep you posted.

  6. I might watch this on DVD, but then again I might forget. I missed the last one and haven't seen a lot of the more recent superhero to have come out.

    For me getting away from the cartoony aspect of superhero movies of the past may have taken the fun out of the genre. I like the corny flag waving fun endings. The endings with sadness, depth, social relevance, symbolism, etc are almost incongruous to the genre and try to make it all something that it's not.

    Too much CGI, too many effects, too much violence--entertaining for a few films, but repetitious after a while.

    Maybe I'm just getting bored with superheroes.

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  7. It's weird because I've also heard that it isn't as good as the first one (I guess everyone has their own opinions). I'm just glad there isn't any of the cheesy comic scenes from the Raimi series.

  8. Alex: I don't think the plane scene was irrelevant, especially with how they are working that plot thread into an overarching story.

    Rajiv: Glad to hear it.

    Pat: Well, yeah, for anyone that knows Spider-Man, it won't come as a great shock, but there are plenty of people that don't, and I don't want to spoil it for them. Plus, they've re-worked so much of Spidey, recently, that I don't know how much of the old history holds true anymore (not having really looked at any comics in the last 10 years).

    M.J.: Well, see, Spider-Man is my favorite. The only thing that Avengers has going for it over Spider-Man is that the Avengers stuff is being done by Marvel and Spidey isn't.

    ABftS: I'm at a lack of understanding for the mixed reviews.

    Misha: Well, do it!

    Lee: I disagree when it comes to Spider-Man. Spider-Man has always been about social relevance. Actually, Marvel has always been about social relevance.

    Jeanne: It must be the emotional depth of this one chasing people away. You know, people like their shallow.

  9. I'm never likely to see it anyway.

  10. I liked it quite a bit too. I actually liked the first one quite a bit, and this one maybe a bit less so, although this one did the Gwen/Peter thing almost perfectly.

  11. Jo: You should see the Raimi ones.

    Rusty: I liked the Lizard better then Electro, but I like the new movie better than the first.

  12. I've never been a big fan of Spiderman but knowing that it's a bit of a tearjerker will help me watch it when hubby brings it home in a few months on DVD.


  13. So I actually went out and saw this last night with the wife and we both enjoyed it. She was all weepy, and I'll admit I had a tear in my eye too. And I don't usually get that way with movies. I thought it was really well done, and I enjoyed this one a lot more than the first. It wasn't just a brainless action film. It had a lot of heart.

    Also, you know what's truly amusing? Jamie Foxx being the nerd with a combover and Paul Giamatti being the shaved head badass.

  14. Elsie: Spider-Man is the MAN!

    ABftS: I think that's what's going to be the separating line for this one: People who want just an action movie won't like it as much. People who want a bit more substance will like it more.

    I didn't even recognize Giamatti until the end!

  15. I had a comment and then something went wrong and now I can't save it. I'll try saving this one.

  16. See? Now it's working.

    Anyway, what I said was: Yours is the first positive review I've seen of Spidey but the others were all from professional critics who don't like movies like this as a general rule so I take them with a grain of salt.

    Still, I haven't been that crazy about the Spider-Man movies. I may or may not ever see this one.

  17. Briane: I haven't looked up any professional reviews. I tend to avoid those unless I'm actually on the fence about whether I want to see something.

    You didn't like the Raimi ones?

  18. Looks like I'm going to have to give this one a shot. :) I like superhero movies, but I would like to see them take on more than the 'safe' series, or at least, if they're going to reboot, reboot with more of the characters that were left out. So the intro of Black Cat sounds promising. :)

    Thanks for no spoilers.

  19. Alex H: There have been some non-"safe" series made into movies, just not by or from Marvel (unless you count Punisher: War Zone). Marvel tends to focus on accessible series while still dealing with real issues. The Amazing movies seem to be tackling issues in much the same way that the early comic series did.