Re: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - User Review Thread! - SPOILERS! - Part 5
Not sure anyone is interested in reading reviews any more but here's mine:
The best part about comic books is that they’re an evolving group of stories that are part of a larger narrative. The characters are centralized in a world where you can have such a spectrum of wide-eyed events, crazy villains, bold ambitious creations and plenty of colorful themes. Think of some of the most outrageous comic book stories and there’s no limit to how inventive and ‘out there’ they can go—only bound by what the writers dare to dream. Part of the reason and a big part it is, for how and why I love Spider-Man is that after you wash all that stuff away, you’re left with some very basic elements. Life thru the eyes of a teenage kid thrust into the middle of something grand whilst trying to maintain everything ‘normal’ he can hold on to—it’s all about his daily struggles to make ends meet and have meaningful relationships. At the core, underneath all the spectacle, you have a very warm and charming story.
This is what I love about the Amazing Spider-Man 2. The movie resembles a comic book, not one in particular, but the comic book nature of storytelling. ASM2 is every bit a story told thru the eyes of Peter Parker. We’re meant to feel his highs and lows, the eccentric nature of his existence and the struggle to maintain even the most simple of relationships.
ASM2 is by far the best portrayal of the title character of Spider-Man ever to grace the screen. Garfield deserves some serious credit here as he absolutely nails down every aspect of Spidey, from his movements, to his voice and more importantly to the delivery of the lines; this is Spider-Man at his absolute best. The quips are excellent and his interactions with everyone and anyone is a joy to watch whether it’s a Russian mobster or high-fiving some firemen as though they’re been best friends for years. The best part is how much of a hero Spider-Man is in this film. Saving people, protecting kids from bullies, giving people hope and even fighting crime thru the haze of a flu. But that’s Spidey, rain or shine. Garfield is just as great outside the suit giving us a conflicted, troubled, very likeable and relatable Peter. The duality of the character is beautifully portrayed here and Garfield does such an awesome job of keeping us connected to this crazy paced life that Peter endures.
Aside from Garfield’s terrific performance we also have an excellent batch of performances from the many side characters in his life. Emma Stone is once again a high point as she gives us even more reasons to root for Gwen. She’s smart, independent, strong, and has a wonderful chemistry with Andrew’s Parker. This is easily the best romance/relationship to ever be presented in a CBM, bar none. Sally Field brings levity to the role of Aunt May and has some very touching scenes with Peter. Dane Dehaan is excellent as well—going from one extreme to the other, he’s believable as Peter’s once good friend to desperate to menacing, to chewing up the scenery.
Before seeing this film I read so many criticisms about the villains and how they were handled. After seeing the movie, my only real issue with them, is that I wasn’t given enough of each. Never mind Aleksei or the Rhino. There really isn’t much development needed. He’s a criminal for hire. We don’t need a deep back story on this guy…he opens the film in a way that I’ve always wanted a Spidey film to open. Spider-Man just being Spider-Man and taking down a thug causing problems. After being put away of course he’s now got a beef with Spidey and jumps at the chance for some revenge. Giamatti plays Aleksei over-the-top and it was pure fun to watch him.
The problem I initially had with Max/Electro is that prior to seeing the movie I thought he was going to be this guy that I sympathized with pre-transformation. A loser, down on his luck, but you were pulling for him. Nope. Not at all. Max reminds me of that guy you sometimes see at work, in a restaurant, on a bus, at school, or wherever and he’s just disconnected. I hate to use the word ‘normal’ but he’s so removed from being normal that when you see him, you don’t pity him or feel sorry, you just want to stay clear. As if interacting with him would cause nothing but trouble. He runs the gauntlet for social disorders. People avoid him and don’t even care to help him. To everyone he’s invisible. Zimmer made an excellent choice writing Max’s theme as a solo clarinet. The woodsy tone is such a dissonant sound compared to the rest of the score and it’s there for a reason. Max is so removed from the tone of the film you can’t help but want him to go away… and that’s what I really enjoyed about the villains in ASM2. There isn’t any massive scheming going on here. There’s no master plan of villainy trying to reshape the world by their philosophic views, there’s no villains here as anti-heroes with nuanced back stories. They’re just broken, damaged individuals, much like broken toys and that’s all we need to know about them. Harry as the Goblin is no different. My only real gripe is that I wanted more of them. There’s nothing really original about these two characters but that isn’t the point, in fact, they’re meant to be counterpoints to Spider-Man. Just more menaces that he has to deal with in his daily life—his daily troubles.
The action scenes are wonderfully captured. The CGI has never looked better and the score backs up each moment within the film beautifully.
Even as the film plods along with its plot a bit messy and somewhat clumsy, ASM2 is a movie that understands the main character…”we must be greater than what we suffer.” This idea is at the heart of the movie and plays out like a song written for Spider-Man and the heroism that he embodies.
This movie is like a love letter to The Spectacular Spider-Man or even the 90’s cartoon. ASM2 is a self-contained character arc but it leaves things open-ended with a story that is yet to be completed much like a comic book. And that’s exactly what this movie is—a live action comic book. And I loved it.