It’s Almost Amazing for Spider-Man’s Second Outing

3 May

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Spider-Man 2 Poster

Oh just what kind of tangled web have you weaved, Spidey? Stan Lee can have a field day narrating The Amazing Spider-Man 2 if given the chance. Technically he has, as part of Kellogg’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Web-Sling Game. In the past he provided the intros for the cartoon, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, but for this movie, maybe that would help explain the bits and pieces that’s cobbled together to make up this overtly graphic novel sized drama.

Technically, this film is a marvel to behold. The 3D elements are well placed and when viewed in RealD, viewers are flying in the air with the greatest of ease with the web-slinger. Even the slug fests are dynamic, but that does not help fix a rather long story that requires knowledge of what happened in the first act from the first film.

Although this movie recaps what’s important from it, the disappearance of Richard and Mary Parker, their significance permeates Marc Webb’s retelling of what makes a man a spider (with a screenplay worked on by James Vanderbilt, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci).

But Spider-Man is no Batman. Parker became a web-slinging avenger because of Uncle Ben and the values he impressed upon the young lad. Even though shades of Batman style villainy can be felt in this film, the depths it goes is that of to not introduce Kingpin just yet into the narrative.

To figure out what’s going on requires viewers to be familiar with parts of the Spider-Man canon or what comic book series the film’s plot takes its moments from.

Electro takes some inspiration from the Ultimate series and Jamie Foxx delivers a performance that makes this version all the more sinister. His later performance is hardly electrifying since they consist of mostly one-liners, but his nerdy life is one to take note of. Unlike other incarnations who treat him like a two-bit crook, this one has aspirations to become a cruel god of New York and that alone makes him dangerous to deal with as the main villain.

Thankfully, despite what the trailers have teased at, the inclusion of the other two web smashers in Spidey’s life do not take over the plot. Had the script gone in that direction, then this movie would have been just as messy as the third film that concluded Raimi’s trilogy. The Green Goblin and Rhino are introduced in tiny steps for those in the know. To leap from them making their intros to them wearing the armor requires viewers to be patient.

That’s a problem with trailers. Although the teases only showed who will appear in the film, it never once suggested the three will meet together to take on the web-slinger. People antsy to see Spider-Man get squashed by the mechanized Rhino will sadly have to be disappointed. He looks like the best beast to take on the spider, but that’s being saved for the third film.

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Instead, what viewers end up watching is a lengthy drama about how much Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is in love with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). With their high school life behind them, they now have to contend with how to carry on their relationship. But as viewers will recall, Parker made a promise to Gwen’s father and that’s to not include her in his crime-fighting activities. That puts him in a dilemma since he continually sees him everywhere he goes. Garfield does a good job to emote Parker’s uncertainty and Stone is delightfully charming. The pair’s chemistry has certainly gotten steamier since the first movie.

Although Gwen decides to break up with him, the tormented Parker does not let go, and half the movie is spent showing how he’s nearly stalking her. Much of this plot feels too drawn out between this romance and thus shortening how Max Dillon becomes Electro. The added narrative of making Peter Parker a detective out to figure out why his father left him is required, but that story is better off being a tale of its own than nestled between an already dense plot — which gets even thicker when Harry Osborn comes back to town.

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With Osborn’s return neatly explained, the relationship between Pete and Harry just does not have the same impact as the comics or the previous trilogy which took years to build up. Much of their relationship is taken for granted. There’s no meat to the substance of their bromance. In print, their relationship is a very complex one. On film, their long time friendship does not have the gravitas that’s needed to carry the last act to fruition since everything that’s said is explained in compressed time format.

Maybe Amazing Spider-Man 2 is better off being split into two films, so everything that’s required to be explained can be given the time it deserves. At 142 minutes, just how this film tries to resolve itself can easily be compared to how Lord of the Rings trilogy tries to neatly clean itself up after the One Ring is tossed into the fires of Mordor. Peter Jackson did a commendable job, but for director Marc Webb, his thoughts may be elsewhere. There’s at least two more movies and a spinoff involving the Sinister Six to be made. Harry aka the Green Goblin may become an anti-hero for this latter product.

Too much is being pushed in this second movie, and sadly that does not make for a good continuation. The progress requires Spidey to make calculated spurts from his web shooter to create a symmetrical web so everything coalesces than a messy cobweb that can not be dusted.

3 Stars out of 5

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