|I saw AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 this morning and I must confess that I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it's not as good as the first Spider-Man film to have the number 2 in the title but on the other hand, it's still way better than SPIDER-MAN 3.|
Like almost every film made these days, ASM2 is entirely too long. Waaaaay, too long. And hey, what ever happened to the classic three-act dramatic structure that every good film is supposed to have? Again, like most modern films, ASM2 isn't over when the monster (or super villain) is dead. Nope, we've got another super villain to contend with, a major plot development and a brief appearance by yet another super villain in (literally) the last five minutes of the film. Oh and the post credit teaser sequence? It's a teaser for X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, which opens later this month. That's a pretty neat trick considering that ASM2 was produced and released by Sony/Columbia while the X-MEN franchise belongs to 20th Century Fox.
ASM 2 plays like two giant size special issues of the long running comic book series. One issue would sport the cover blurbs "All Action!" and "In this issue, ******* ****!". The other would feature the blurb "Special All-Talking Issue! Not an action scene in sight!" That's the way the script plays out here. We're treated to some hyper kinetic action sequences that resemble video games more than anything else leavened with lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of dialogue. Spider-Man in costume is absent from the story for huge chunks of screen time while Peter, Gwen, Aunt May, Harry Osborn and Max Dillon (Electro) each get numerous scenes of plot development.
Still missing in action from this version of the franchise is the character of J. Jonah Jameson. Oh, the Daily Bugle is a small part of the film, JJJ is mentioned and we see his name on an email but there are no scenes set in the Bugle offices and neither JJJ himself or any of the Bugle supporting characters, make an appearance. I felt this was a mistake in the first ASM film (2012) and it's a mistake here. The Daily Bugle, JJJ and the newsroom staff are vital, important elements to the Spider-Man mythos and to leave them out of a Spider-Man movie is like having a Superman film where Clark Kent doesn't go to work at the Daily Planet until the last scene of the film. Wait. We got that one last year.
Another quibble is how almost every character (good and bad) in both of these films has some connection to LexCorps, oops, Oscorp. Peter's dad worked there, Gwen Stacy works there, Dr. Curt Connors worked there, Max Dillon works there, Harry Osborn inherits the business when his dad, Norman, dies in the film and the armament for the Rhino is supplied by Oscorp. That's just a bit too much for me. And it looks like the villains in the next Spider-Man film will be armored by Oscorp as well as we get glimpses of Dr. Octopus's arms and the Vulture's wings.
Oh, and about the Rhino. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for this character because when I first started regularly buying and reading the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN comic book way back in 1966, it was at the time when this rampaging brute made his first appearance. I hope that Paul Giamatti, who plays the Rhino in the film, has got a great agent and that that agent negotiated him a two picture deal for playing the character because the Rhino is criminally underused here. And if Giamatti didn't get a two picture deal, I hope that his agent at least got him a nice paycheck for his approximately five minutes of screen time.
Notice how I haven't mentioned the 800 lb elephant in the room? You know, does Gwen live or die? I'm not telling but I'm sure you can find out (if you must know before seeing the film) on many other websites (Hey! Did you see what I just did? Websites? Spider-Man?) I will say that another female character is introduced in the film who may or may not play a part in the next installment and it's not who you think. ***** *** anyone? Maybe.
I have to give thumbs down to the intrusive and all-over-the-map score by Hans Zimmer. Is there a worse film composer working today? Please, somebody, make him stop. Speaking of music, thumbs up for making the score of the old SPIDER-MAN animated television series Peter's ring tone.
I liked the fact that Aunt May (as played by Sally Field), isn't a helpless, frail, sick woman in these films. She shows real spunk by going back out into the workforce and doing good work in order to bring some extra money into the Parker household.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 isn't a bad film. I was never bored and I thought the fight and action scenes were thrilling. Emma Stone is a perfect Gwen Stacy, Andrew Garfield is fine as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, the villains are suitably evil (if radically re imagined from their original looks in the comic books) and everything sets up nicely for the next film.
I just wish the script had been tightened up and polished one more time before everything went before the cameras. There's a good twenty-minutes of fat that needs to be trimmed here. I didn't enjoy ASM 2 as much as I did CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER but I had a good time watching it nonetheless. I'd give it a B. If you're a fan of the webslinger, it's worth seeing.