Monday, May 5, 2014
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
After seeing the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I went into this with low expectations and... they were met. I'm not going to say too much, because this movie hasn't earned that kind of analysis.
Let's talk about what I liked first. Once again, the cast was mostly pretty good. While I don't think Andrew Garfield has quite nailed Peter Parker, I think he's definitely nailed Spider-Man. He quips, he's friendly neighborhood. Of all of the superheroes, Spider-Man embodies New York more than any other and that was all over this movie. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy was, again, perfect casting... and the chemistry between those two is great. Much better than the chemistry between Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. I thought Dane Dehaan was a better Harry Osborn than James Franco, but I just don't like James Franco.
The action scenes were great, and Electro made a great visual as I knew he would. There were a lot of nice touches, like the clock stopping at 1:21 during the climax, as many Spidey fans will understand the significance of that. Sally Field is a great Aunt May, and I loved her scene with Peter because damn straight she's his mother... more so than Mary Parker could ever be.
Now let's talk about what I didn't like, mostly that damn script. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci have been the hottest screenwriters for the past few years, and I will never understand why. They are hacks. Their Transformers scripts are terrible, the script for "Star Trek: Into Darkness" was terrible. I'm browsing their IMDB pages right now and their credits are embarrassing. Most of the dialogue in this movie was really, really bad... and if you haven't figured out that Gwen Stacy was going to die the moment you heard her graduation speech, you need to have your head examined... and while I'm on the subject, the first ASM ended with Peter listening to Uncle Ben's last voice mail again at the very end and this one ends with him watching Gwen's graduation speech at the very end. This sort of thing annoyed me in "Spider-Man 2" and it annoys me here.
Enough with Richard and Mary Parker. They may have done the deed to spawn Peter Parker but they are not important characters in the mythos. Uncle Ben and Aunt May are Peter Parker's parents, and I don't understand the fixation on Richard Parker that these movies, as well as Brian Michael Bendis, seem to have. You could have cut most of that from the movie and kept Peter, Gwen, and Harry the main focus and it would have been tighter and better for it.
Remember when I said Electro was a great visual? Well, that's all he was because the character was awful. I know Max Dillon has never been the deepest character. In the comics he was a petty crook who got struck by lightning while working on a telephone pole and gained superpowers, deciding to rob banks. The 90's show turned him into Red Skull's son. "Spectacular Spider-Man" had him suffer a tragic accident, and had him fall into Doc Ock's clutches with promise for a cure. This... well, it was worse than him being Red Skull's son. They turned him into Edward Nygma from "Batman Forever", and I don't want to be thinking about that movie. Ever. But his dialogue was hilariously bad (Orci and Kurtzman), and you could have also removed him from this movie and not lost much.
Dr. Kafka really annoyed me... aside from the gender lift, they turned her/him into the most stereotypical evil mad scientist I have ever seen... again, I'm reminded of Joel Schumacher. The actor was as bad as the butler in Spider-Man 3... as if he failed an audition at Lynchville, Alabama's community theater production of "Dr. Strangelove."
Finally, and this is a personal thing, but I absolutely hate that Harry Osborn is the Green Goblin before Norman... but hey, it's not like Norman is in this movie. Well, he is but then he dies after one scene... and I do think he's dead because his character is pointless now. And maybe that's for the best because that green claw we saw reminded me too much of the Ultimate Goblin and I hate the Ultimate Goblin.
At first, I thought the man in the shadows was Osborn before we saw said man taking orders from Harry... something no version of Norman would ever do. Do you want to know who the mystery man is? He isn't even anyone from the comics. He's from a trilogy of Spider-Man prose novels that were published over a decade ago... you can read all about him here. And given his story in those novels, the shadow of Richard and Mary Parker isn't going to go away... they'll keep on overshadowing Uncle Ben. Hey, remember Uncle Ben? Good, because Peter doesn't. But why are you mining those lame novels for material? Spider-Man has fifty years of history. You need a mastermind? Norman Osborn! Don't want to use Norman Osborn? Doc Ock was also called the Master Planner! Can't use the Kingpin? Use Tombstone in a similar manner that "Spectacular Spider-Man" did! Even the Jackal and the Cabal of Scrier would have been preferable.
Spider-Man is my favorite comic book hero of all time, and frankly, he deserves better than this. It was better than "Spider-Man 3", but that's such a low bar. I don't want to turn this into a Raimi vs Webb debate because, quite frankly, I don't think either one of them delivered the perfect Spider-Man movie... but mash their work together and it could come close. They each are strong where the other is weak. But, I don't know... just give the rights back to Marvel Studios because I am not excited for "Spider-Man 3" and I am definitely not excited for "Sinister Six".