Sunday, May 4, 2014
Movie Review: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (2014)
If there's one popular superhero out there that I never cared for, it would be Spider-Man. But not for the reason that most other people hate him.
It seems that the popular consensus on dislike for the wall-crawler is that he is too whiny and baby-ish. But, to be fair, lots of superheroes whine about how they are tortured souls that have lived tragic lives. It is their rise and ability to overcome this tragedy that makes them relatable and interesting characters.
The reason I don't care for Spider-Man is something rather recent that came up in the comic "One More Day" in which Spider-Man, in order to save his dying aunt May, makes a deal with the literal devil and must sacrifice his marriage to Mary Jane Watson.
It's not so much Spidey making a deal with the devil, but part of a much larger problem: Spider-Man has always been written like a child. People enjoy Spider-Man because of the duality between the man and the mask, that constant struggle between his life as Peter Parker and his life of fighting crime. But the problem is that, when you think about it, there is no duality. Peter will always choose his life as Spider-Man first and make excuses as to why he couldn't be there as Peter Parker. The mask will always win, and it makes Spider-Man a selfish child who can't learn from his mistakes. If he really cared about his regular life and how his actions of being Spider-Man were effecting his loved ones, he would have stopped being a web-slinger a long time ago.
For all his talk of "with great power comes great responsibility," Spider-Man is probably the most irresponsible superhero ever.
This complaint about Spider-Man translates into his most recent film, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." While it alone does not tranish the film, it does eventually add up over time and leaves me scratching my head about what the point of the movie was.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has just graduated from high school but his life as Spider-Man is still in full swing, as he stops crimes and saves innocent lives. But things take a weird turn when Peter's old childhood friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHann), returns when his father dies of a mysterious illness. It seems Harry has the same disease and the only cure might be Spider-Man's blood. Peter is unsure of what might happen so he declines the offer.
But Harry won't take this without a fight, so he uses his father's vast range of technology and weapons to fight Spider-Man, even enlisting the help of a new super-powered weapon, Electro (Jamie Foxx). Together, they intend to capture Spider-Man at whatever cost, including his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).
What I did enjoy about this film was the comedy. The aspect of Spider-Man that I've always enjoyed would be his need to make quips and comedic jabs at his opponent. Not only does this give Spider-Man his own unique feel, but it also an effective battle strategy: Dodge your opponent's moves, get them angry through insults so that they make hasty judgment calls, find their weak spots and attack.
But not only were his quips good in this film, but there was an atmosphere that allowed for so many other great moments, like when Electro is bouncing between electrical towers and the noise he is emitting sounds exactly like the Spider-Man theme song, which we hear multiple times throughout the film, from Peter humming the tune to the ring tone on his phone.
It is too bad moments like these are short lived, as basically anytime a scene involves Harry Osborne, the film gets incredibly serious and hardly ever cracks a smile. Granted he is dying of an illness he doesn't understand, but then again he is playing a twenty-year old in charge of a billion dollar company. You'd think they could have some fun with that.
Ultimately, my problem with "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" comes back to the same question: At the end of the day, what did this film accomplish? How did this film advance the story of Spider-Man?
I'm hard-pressed to think of an answer.
Other than one major story point (which I won't spoil), Peter Parker is the exact same person at the beginning of the film as he was at the end. He doesn't change at all or come to any realization about his father. He knows a little bit more about why his father did what he did, but after that particular scene it is never addressed again. It carries no emotional weight or effect on Peter, so it felt pointless.
Sure, near the end, he considers giving up being Spider-Man because of how it might hurt his loved ones, but he still ends up putting it on the costume and fighting baddies either way. So that short scene of Peter possibly giving it up accomplished nothing.
Thus we come back to the root of my problem with Spider-Man. Peter puts his family and friends through hell, thanks to his actions of being a hero. Even if the bad guys don't know who he is, his loved ones still end up getting hurt. Yet, he still believes that he is a responsible adult who makes the right decisions. He puts his thoughts and feelings ahead of everyone else, yet pretends that he is a selfless individal.
To me, that is bad writing and makes Spider-Man a brat with ego problems.
Overall, there were some enjoyable parts to "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," mostly revolving around the comedy, effects and use of Electro's powers of manipulating anything electrical. But by the end, I was left unsure about the film. It felt like nothing new was brought to the table and very little was accomplished. For a hero who is just out of high school, it sure does feel like Spider-Man could learn a lot more, yet chooses not to.
Final Grade: C-