Why The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is Freakin' Awesome!...until the last 15 minutes
- Category: Film
- Published: Thursday, 17 April 2014 18:20
- Written by Blacksmith
95% awesome, 5% total bull
Let me begin by saying that my opinion contained within this article is seemingly not one shared by many; the first thing I did after getting home from the cinema was to browse the internet to see what others thought about it, and was met with a range of the usual: some hated it, a fair few thought it was “decent”, and a lot seemed to love it. I couldn't find anyone, however, who shared my very particular view on this film, and that is that it was a near perfect, thoroughly enjoyable, ballsy and gorgeous Spider-Man film right up until the final 15 minutes, where they completely dropped the ball and quite possibly ruined the entire experience for me.
Explaining exactly why I feel this will be difficult without giving away major spoilers, but I shall endeavour to do so; still, if you have an aversion to even suggestive references, then I'd recommend that you stop reading now, as I cannot guarantee that what I say will not be easily extrapolated on.
The action and cinematography is glorious throughout
When the film opens, we are treated to a chase sequence that shows Garfield's Parker in action as Spider-Man, and he's loving it. The direction is graceful, the action well stylised, the cinematography beautiful, and this is maintained throughout the entire film. I honestly don't think anyone can levy any real complaints against it. The quips also come thick and fast and had the majority of the cinema – myself included – laughing out loud. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything inherently clever about the humour, but it's funny, biting, and delivered with a good deal of panache by Garfield; most importantly, it's Spider-Man's humour. We see Spidey dealing with Paul Giamatti's Aleksei Sytsevich, who's portrayal was one of only two things that didn't sit quite right in the first 95% of the film. Again, don't get me wrong, I love me some Giamatti, but in this he's putting on such a ridiculous Russian accent that it brought me out of the film for a moment every time he spoke; coincidentally, the other of the two things that didn't sit right is the over the top German accent affected by Marton Csokas (another actor I generally enjoy) as Dr. Kafka later on.
One of the criticisms levied at this film by those that didn't like it at all is that there is a lot going on, which is certainly true. However, I found it incredibly easy to follow everything, and felt the narrative and direction juggled the various plotlines very well, without sacrificing too much; everything from Electro to Harry Osbourne and Oscorp, to Peter's parents to the romance plot is done very well, and fits seamlessly together. If you have trouble following it, then I don't know what to say other than you experienced it different to me. Are there plot holes? Sure, there are some minor points that may have you going “hrrrm”, but even those are dealt with in a slick enough way to not break the immersion. By halfway through, I was all but on the edge of my seat, so intent was I on what was taking place.
From bumbling nobody to sinister (geddit?) villain, Foxx is great
The acting in the film is – apart from the aforementioned accents – spot on. If you thought Garfield nailed Parker/Spider-Man in the first film, this one will only reinforce that; he IS Spider-Man, much more so than Maguire ever was. Likewise, Emma Stone and Sally Field inhabit their roles as Gwen Stacey and Aunt May completely, whilst Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz get a worthy crack at further fleshing out Peter's parents. Foxx is great as both the bumbling Max Dillon and the angry Electro, bringing laughs as the former and genuine threat as the latter. All the little supporting roles are spot on for what they were, as well.
It is Dane DeHaan's performance, however, that stands out, and is easily on par with Garfield. DeHaan, best known for his quirky and disturbing performance in indy superhero flick, Chronicle, plays Harry Osbourne, childhood best friend of Peter Parker and now heir to OsCorp after his terminally ill father, Norman (Chris Cooper) passes. Harry suffers from the same degenerative disease that killed his father, and is desperately looking for a cure – which he believes is found in Spider-Mans blood – whilst fending off corporate threats from within OsCorp, primarily lead by Colm Feore's Donald Menken. There are parallels to his role in Chronicle, as he brings a similar kind of vulnerability and crazy to the role here, though Harry certainly does not suffer from Andrew Detmer's lack of confidence. I can certainly see him becoming a worthy staple in the TASM franchise.
Garfield and DeHaan are both exceptional
At this point, I need to talk about the romance plot, which is certainly a major part of the film. The relationship between Peter and Emma Stone's Gwen Stacey feels organic and natural; their obvious chemistry is likely helped by the fact that they are dating in real life. Sure, every now and again there's a line that sounds a little clunky, but that's actually part of the charm, with Garfield nailing the awkward aspect of Parker even more than he did in the first. The film spends a fair amount of screen time exploring and emphasising their relationship, presumably with the intent of a big pay off at the end – but that is exactly where it drops the ball.
For fans of the comic, you'll probably be happy to know that Webb and the studio had the balls to follow it in regards to the climax, and that particular event was extremely well done – for those that obviously had not read the comics, it got the shocked and sad reaction it deserved, yet it still managed to silence the comic readers as well (myself included). In my head, I was screaming “They did it! They actually did it!”, and I felt like applauding the filmmakers...
Garfield and Stone have great chemistry on screen...before the film throws all that out the window
...which means that my uncharacteristic desire to walk out of the cinema in frustration over the next 15 or so minutes should be a warning flag. Like I said, the studio and Webb had the balls to stick to the comics, building up to this brilliant and moving moment in the climax, but it seems their courage was then spent. Instead of taking a good look at the fallout, instead of really letting the event sink in with our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, we instead get a timelapse montage of five months over 15 minutes, and by the time the credits rolled I felt cheated out of what should have been some real character development, instead getting a return to the status quo and an “everything is pretty much okay now” final scene. Never before have a seen a film that was so well done from opening to climax, only for them to take a massive proverbial dump all over everything they'd just done with a terribly thought out finale.
I've yet to decide whether the ending ruined the entire thing for me; the first 95% of the film is truly glorious, and it seems a bit extreme to write off that for the sake of a 15 minute segment – but that's honestly what my gut reaction was. So, with that in mind, I've decided to cheat the scoring system and do two separate scores. It's a cop out, I know, but hey, TASM2 did it first.
First 95% of the film: 10/10
Last 5% of the film: 0/10
Oh, and if you're thoroughly confused by the mid credits Mystique clip taken from the upcoming FOX film, X-Men: Days of Future Past – do not get your hopes up for a shared universe any time soon. The inclusion was part of a back-room business deal between Sony and FOX so that FOX would release Marc Webb from his obligations in order to shoot the film.
This has been Blacksmith, writing for The Awesome Update