Too long, my budlings, has it taken for me to write my difinitive review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But now I have it on BluRay along with it’s deleted scenes, one can let you know my thoughts and feelings in their entirity.
Shall we start with Spider-Man himself? I think we can all agree that Andrew Garfield in comparison to Tobey Maguire at least looks more like Pater Parker should do, and verily ’tis my belief that we have finally seen Spider-Man portrayed as he should be.
In saying that, I mean his unique movement through and over the skyscrapers of New York is captued in all it’s web-slinging glory in this latest installment. It is my opinion that it is in this area is where Spider-Man excels way above any of his peers. Sure, Superman can fly, but it’s arms out and move forward – booooorrrring! The Hulk jumps, and while it’s breathtaking to see the rippling muscles of the not-so-Jolly Green Giant leaping massive great distances, it’s still just jumping. Batman? Well, Batman drives a car. It’s a car with a rather impressive arsenal, but it’s just a car nonetheless. We see people driving cars everyday and it’s not that exciting really. James Bond has a car with weapons as well. Is he a great superhero? No. And they both wear poncey suits too.
But, Bat-Twat prejudice aside, when you look at Spider-Man doing what he does in the pursuit of criminals or to get home in time for Aunt May’s meatloaf, he dances through the sky with the skill and grace of a professional ballet dancer doing her routine in mid-air. Ok, so I have now put the image of Spider-Man in a pink tutu prancing around to Swan Lake in many people’s minds, which admittedly was probably not the best thing to do, so hall we move on? It’s best we do. The point is, it’s a thing of beauty to behold and Marc Webb and his team have captured that brilliantly.
They have also captured Spidey’s marvelous sense of humour and fun, which appeared to be largely overlooked in Sam Raimi’s incarnations. We got a smidgen of it in ASM1, but here we get it in spades, which I hope they continue build on in the rumoured to be upcoming ASM3 and ASM4. Again, it’s something that Spider-Man has over many other heroes and villians in ComicBookLand. He’s a funny guy, so let’s see more comedy from the fast-talking, urine-taking Webhead.
Now, his powers. While far from being in the league of Superman and the Silver Surfer with regards to just how powerful he is, Spider-Man possesses remarkable strength, speed and agility, which is yet another thing that Marc Webb has brought us here. It was said by a friend who I saw ASM2 with for the first time in Melbourne (I saw it seven times in theatres), that one flaw in the movie was that we never felt Spidey was in any real danger from Electro, the Goblin, or even the mechanical, weaponized Rhino. He seemed to be able to dispatch of them all with a degree of relative ease.
I have to agree with this, but as a huge fan of the Wall-Crawler, I loved this aspect of the movie. Finally, we get to see just how kick-ass the Amazing Spider-Man can be. No crying, no lying in a self-pitying heap like many superheroes can often be depicted in movies, or waiting for that final blow to be administered until he is saved by some random piece of convenient intervening luck or fate.
(At this juncture, I should say that we do seem to be missing his Spider-Sense in all it’s glory. We’ve touched on it, but given that it would make Spidey even more hard to get the better of, maybe it’s best left out for now. However, many people know and love this ability, so let’s have it, Marco!)
Apart from Gwen Stacy running Electro over in the police car to release him from his electric chains, Spider-Man was never in any real peril. I can see why this might irk some people, at least from a story arc point of view. But if we are to believe the rumours, in a couple of movies time we may be treated to a humdinger of a ding-dong between Spider-Man and those miscreants, The Sinister Six. If our webbed wonder can’t take on the an oddly-motivated, jealous and down-trodden Electro, a bitter revenge-seeking Goblin and a dim-witted Russian henchman in the Rhino, then how can we ever believe he would be able to take on all three who are also teamed up with the likes of Dr Octopus, The Vulture and/or whoever else we may be treated to in the upcoming sequels?
Kraven The Hunter! We all want to see Kraven the Hunter! Please can we have Kraven the Hunter? We all love Kraven the Hunter! Even if he’s just some random nutter that pops up somewhere, somehow. He doesn’t have to be one of the Sinister Six, just there somehow. Please? Kraven the Hunter! Thanks in advance for Kraven the Hunter!
Anyway, moving away from Kraven the Hunter, this brings us nicely to the villains. The aforementioned Electro, Goblin and The Rhino. Hmmm, shall we take a closer look at our Spidey’s erstwhile opponents in more depth? Yes, let’s.
The main protagonist was supposed to be Electro. he was the main criminal poster boy for this movie. Yes, ok, he did lack the real motivation of many villains. What exactly was he after? Not much it seemed. He was just pissed off that nobody paid him much attention, OsCorp nicked his power grid plans and Spider-Man isn’t his friend anymore. Well, boo-hoo. Get a patent on yer specs and get some real friends, you fool. Sure, your mum was a bit of a neglectful, selfish cow (we’ll deal with deleted scenes a bit later), but that’s many old mums on their way out. Suck it up princess! But hang on a minute. Do we always need a villain to want to rule the world? Do they always have to want millions of dollar, or to save their dying daughter or “watch the world burn” because they are a psychopath with no apparent origin?
If you were bullied and mis-treated, then all of a sudden you could manipulate the very electrical energy all around you, wouldn’t you mete it out on a few dicks that should’ve respected you as the all-round good egg that you were before acquiring such lethal power? Yeah, sure, why not? Especially if those trigger-happy NYPD coppers are going to take pot-shots at you just because you look like a jellyfish in a hoodie.
Now that may sound like I am taking the proverbial, but I actually feel they did a bang-up job with Jamie Foxx. Getting him to look the way he did was a superb start. Drawn from the Ultimate Spider-Man version, that translucent blue electrically-charged skin tone and those searching, confused, angry turquoise eyes looked great. Delightful effects in my humble. But ok, yes, they could’ve done more with him and he had no real end game. But I like to think we haven’t seen the end of ‘Sparkles’ and he will be utilised to better effect in the Sinister Six.
The Goblin was far too rushed, I must admit and the story arc with Gwen could’ve involved a bit more mystery and intrigue. Could Spidey not have been faced with the dilemma of Harry Osborn’s identity being discovered much later after her untimely demise in the clocktower, giving Peter a terrible dilemma as to whether to beat the crap out of or kill his best mate for killing his girlfriend? That surely would’ve worked better as a plot device.
Last, but not least, The Rhino. Paul Giamatti is always welcome in any film, whether it be drinking wine (but not merlot) on surely the most boring stag do of all time, to firing missiles at The Boys in Blue. And while his Russian accent was about as convincing as a Tony Blair speech on WMD’s in Iraq and he was clad in an overly mechanical and weaponized Rhino suit that wasn’t quite right, I think the scene worked as a nice little, “Hey, Spidey is back!” bit at the end. thought it was a cool enough addition and with any luck, the next time we see the mentally and vocally challenged henchman again, it will be in a better version of the suit.
Mr Webb apparently said that a more organic Rhino was great for the comics, but wouldn’t necessarily have been so easy for the public to buy in a movie. Really? Rather like his predecessor Mr Raimi saying that people wouldn’t buy the fact that a chemistry student – no matter how brilliant – could manufacture a web-like substance as strong as steel when multi-national conglomerates couldn’t. Oh, yes, because we can buy a man sticking to walls and bench-pressing cars, but not that? Hmmm, let’s have a bit more faith in your audiences ability to suspend disbelief in some instances, directors!
So, onto those deleted scenes that I mentioned earlier and one in particular. The return from the dead of Richard Parker. No, not the tiger from Life of Pi. Spider-Man’s dad! Jeez, man! Keep up!
Having watched this scene, I think it would have been a better addition than the mundane one we got with him him eating cereal with Aunt May as a precursor to him ‘getting back on the spider horse’, but this scene I believe may have been too much for many people. Like, “Whoa! Wait! Didn’t he die? Yes, we saw the plane go down with him in it!”. But alas, another deleted scene was from said plane crash sequence where it is wholly likely he could’ve survived. Either way, as much as I would’ve prefered that to the Auntie May putting Unble Ben’s stuff in boxes scene, it was probably better left out. As was Electro’s mum and the few extra Goblin scenes that were left out.
I can’t pretend that this is by any means the best superhero movie to date, but it’s far from being anywhere close to the worst. The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and even the highly questioned when first announced Guardians of the Galaxy all had better story arcs and have set a very high new bar in this genre, but ASM2 in my opinion knocks the socks off of Thor: The Dark World, Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 in the recent superhero releases department. The latter doing way better than it deserved to at the box office. At least put the suit on, Tony, for crying out loud!
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is fun, it’s highly entertaining and our popular hero is just how he should be in it. Therefore, with a few tweaks here and there and some spectacular new villains, I feel that ASM2 has set up what can be a couple of truly amazing sequels.