The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not amazing at all

Director: Marc Webb
Screenplay: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner
Cast:  Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Chris Cooper

My problem with The Amazing Spider-Man franchise is its sheer existence. Why did Sony have to do a reboot when it has already established a superior franchise back in 2002 witn Sam Raimi at the helm? Upon seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 2, my problem was further reinforced.

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The movie picks up right where it left off: Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a college student who moonlights as a web-slinging superhero. Unbeknownst to Peter, his life after college will be shaken, not by just one, but three supervillains. First was Spider-Man superfan Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), whose job at Oscorp resulted to him being attacked by radioactive electric eels and turning him to supervillain Electro who wields electricity effortlessly. Second up is Harry Osmond (Dane DeHaan) the one heir to the Oscorp company whose disease he inherited from his father and stubbornness transformed him into the iconic Green Goblin. The third one was Rhino who, uhh, is played by the great Paul Giamatti (that’s the most interesting thing I can come up with, believe me). In addition to dealing with the havoc wrought by his new-found nemeses, Spidey needs to fix his relationship with girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) which went through a shaky course since her father’s death.

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The movie definitely has its moments but it was exceedingly uneven. It dropped its momentum several times and suffered from too much narrative lulls. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is clumsy and not as refined as you would expect from a popular superhero character that has gained ground over the years.

But the film is not without its strong suits. As a matter of fact, it succeeds as an above-average romantic-dramedy which makes it a perfect treat for those who will come to the theaters with a date in tow. It would probably work wonders for them especially after they see the [SPOILER!!!] demise of a beloved character (won’t say anything more; you can thank me later). But we’re not using its charm as barometer, right? The Amazing Spider-Man 2, after all, is being sold as a serious superhero film, and judging by that standard, it almost nearly failed.

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Most of the movie’s blunders are committed behind the camera. Director Marc Webb seems confused as to where he plans to bring the narrative and what tone would he use to tell Spidey’s story. The screenplay is also of inferior quality and felt like the writers are trying too hard to produce a quote that would rival “With great power comes great responsibility” from the original film franchise’s first movie. Need proof? Just listen to Gwen’s valedictory address and hear it get played over and over again (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!).

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But probably one of the gravest mistakes the movie has made is the decision to mechanize most of Spider-Man’s nemeses. Rhino appeared in the movie only as an iron-clad villain. His superpowers which were seen in the comic books were stripped away and replaced by heavy machine-operating capabilities. Contrary to his original character, Rhino was not presented as a menacing villain but only as a rogue prisoner equipped with state of the art weapons and dumb ideas. And his appearance was wasted too!

In the Oscorp facilities, we also got a glimpse of the Sinister Six’s body armors including that of Vulture, who, by the looks of it, will be sporting steel wings like Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. What is up with this trend? By mechanizing the villains, it makes them look vulnerable and easily defeated. Why can’t the studio see that by not mechanizing the villains, it makes them look stronger, more organic and, therefore, less conquerable. Not to mention that it makes the movie less predictable than usual. Lizard is organic and the first movie turned out to be good. Can we start a petition for Sony to not turn Vulture into a mechanical bird?

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The film’s saving grace is its almost-perfect cast led by Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone whose chemistry and combined charisma are enough reason to see it (and is begging for a separate movie of their own). Sally Field’s reliability as an actor was affirmed in her dramatic turn as a protective, scared and hurt aunt. Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti’s commitment to their roles as supervillains were superb while Chris Cooper managed to maximize his role in a five-minute cameo. The only casting misstep was the Green Goblin actor Dane DeHaan whose performance underwhelmed and limited his character (bring back Willem Defoe or James Franco!).

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Music also proved to be one of the film’s stronger aspects. The incorporation of a song in the scene where Electro was being demonized by his innermost thoughts is pure genius. It brought more tension and cleared the supervillain’s road to delusion and near-insanity. Philip Philip’s “Gone, gone, gone” was a great accompaniment to the scene where it played while Alicia Key’s song playing during the credits is a perfect way to end the movie. Unfortunately, the great things about the movie stopped there. It’s almost like the “I’d buy the soundtrack but not the DVD” situation for me.

The Amazing Spider-Man 3 would be the perfect avenue to answer the questions left by the movie and also to rectify the errors it unabashedly committed. I’d still line up outside the theaters but bring out Vulture and fix his goddamn wings!

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MNL Film Club Score: 2.00

Stray observations:

  • The Aidy Bryant scene is hilarious!
  • Stan Lee’s cameo is better in the first movie.
  • “We are not in different paths, you are my path” wins best quote.
  • The film is amazing in IMAX 3D.

 

 

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