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Friday, May 2, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: You Have to Actively Try to Fuck Up a Movie This Bad

Posted by on Fri, May 2, 2014 at 8:02 AM

Lets kick some ice. Oh, shit. No, sorry, that was the other dumb blue bad guy.
  • Let's kick some ice. Oh, shit. No, sorry, that was the other dumb blue bad guy.

Let me tell you right now what the most boring part of the Spider-Man story is: His parents. Steve Ditko and Stan Lee created Peter Parker as a poor everyschlub who lived in Queens with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Parker didn't spend any amount of time in his first adventure, or in any of those great early comics for that matter, whining about where his parents had gone. It probably would've been better for the Spider-Man story if Ditko and Lee had introduced a word balloon somewhere in those first dozen comics about Parker's mother being a washed-up junkie out in New Jersey somewhere, maybe in conjunction with something about his father doing a significant amount of time in some prison upstate for armed robbery.

But they never addressed the issue, and so later, a checked-out Stan Lee introduced some convoluted and ill-considered backstory about Parker's parents, making them secret agents and genius inventors and otherwise Very Special People. This is a dumb idea. The whole thing about Peter Parker is that he isn't special until one day, because of a freak accident, he's bitten by a radioactive spider and he chooses to become a superhero. The operative word there is "chooses." He's not destined to become a superhero; he's just an ordinary jerk, like the rest of us, who makes a choice to do something better. By making him a Luke Skywalker-style child of destiny, you're robbing the character of everything that makes him special.

I bring all this up because for some reason, both the films in the Amazing Spider-Man series waste a significant amount of time on the story of Peter Parker's parents.The opening of Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a sequence featuring Parker's parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davitz, not that it really matters) in a fight with an armed assassin on a private jet. And, really, who cares? The sequence has nothing to do with the rest of the movie (except for about five minutes of boring, unnecessary exposition later on) and it only further muddies an already muddy film.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a mess. Characters either have simplistic motivations, or no motivation at all. There are three villains, and none of them are interesting. Someone refers to an old friend he hasn't heard anything from in almost a decade as his "best pal." One character is introduced on his death bed, and we're supposed to care for no greater reason than because he's played by Chris Cooper. Another character transforms from a gloomy young adult to a raving lunatic with absolutely no gear-shifts in between. The central love affair in the film, between Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield, chewing on the Noo Yawk accent too hard) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, trying the best she has with the very little she's been given) is improbable at best and Twilight-level creepy at worst. The scenes without special effects are tedious and awkward, as characters over-emote at each other in desperate attempts to set up motivations for the next big action set piece. There are no people in this movie, only action figures being moved about from set to set, with a very specific endgame in mind. By the time the endgame happens, you're too drained to care.

I wish someone would make a road trip movie starring Jamie Foxx's Electro from Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Arnold Schwartzenegger's Mr. Freeze from Batman and Robin. Those two characters have so much in common: They're both blue, for one thing. They both have terrible senses of humor. (Mr. Freeze greets Batman with "Ice to see you" and other ice-related puns, whereas Electro plays "Itsy Bitsy Spider" on a death trap as he tries to kill Spider-Man.) They're both played by actors who show up for what amounts to an extended cameo, cash their paychecks, and leave without having any kind of an effect on the plot of their respective films. In their movies, they're useless, but put them in a beat-up Chevy and give them a Hope and Crosby road picture to re-enact, and you'd have yourself some kind of comedy gold.

But to pin the failings of Amazing Spider-Man 2 on Foxx would be like trying to blame the sinking of the Titanic on the actions of a waiter in the ship's dining hall. The most disastrous part of this film is the screenplay, and every other sin radiates from the script outwards. Why, in a movie that runs nearly two and a half hours, does Aunt May have an extended argument with Parker about how much she wants to wash his underwear? Who expects us to believe that an 18-year-old Peter Parker, deep in relationship woes, is going to earnestly listen to faux-folk tripe like Phillip Phillips's "Gone Gone Gone" in order to express his inner torment? Who writes lines like this: "Soon, everyone in the city will know how it feels to live in a world without power, without mercy, without Spider-Man!" Or lines like this: "Oh, my, oh my. How the tables have turned!"

It's hard for me to think of a single element of Amazing Spider-Man 2 that actually works. There are a few funny moments, I guess. And the Spider-Man suit looks better than any other cinematic Spider-Man. But the rest of this film is pure folly, the kind of garbage that's only defended by jackasses who insist that "you have to turn your brain off" and soak in the "pure summer movie fun." Except it's not fun. Every time the movie even hints at fun, another dull bit of melodrama drags itself on screen to murder the fun in its crib. This is the kind of corporate franchise product that will make a shit-ton of money and that people will twist themselves into all kinds of embarrassing contortions to defend this summer, but within ten years, everyone involved will be apologizing for it and making sheepish jokes on late-night television about how terrible it all really was.

And the worst part of it all: It's not even a whole movie. It's full of set-up for the next two Spider-Man films. Hell, even the movie's tagline is "His greatest battle begins." We have no word on when his greatest battle will end. (Amazing Spider-Man 3 is set for the summer of 2016, and number 4 is set for the summer of 2018, with separate movies for villains The Sinister Six and Venom scheduled for the years in between Spider-Man movies.) This reboot is scheduled to run until the next decade or so, whereupon it will be re-rebooted, probably as something even darker and even grittier. And since this reboot was shepherded along by people dumb enough to believe that Peter Parker's birth parents were the most important part of the Spider-Man mythology, I'm willing to bet the next reboot—let's just go ahead now and schedule it for 2021, okay?—is going to be by someone who thinks the Clone Saga was the pinnacle of the Spider-Man story. Things could always get worse, I guess.


Comments (15) RSS

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fletc3her 1
I wish they'd give us something other than origin stories. Spider-Man has been running for fifty some years. Surely there are some other stories worth telling in there. It also seems incredibly stupid to reboot the franchise with the same villains who starred in the last reboot.
Posted by fletc3her on May 2, 2014 at 9:24 AM · Report this
tothepoint 2
@1 Toby movies had: Green Goblin, Doc Oc, New Goblin (son), Sandman, and Venom.

Garfield movies have: 1) Lizard, 2) Green Goblin, Electro, Rhino.

That's only one repeat villain.

I'm sure this is an utter crap movie. But it's not because they are repeating villains.
Posted by tothepoint on May 2, 2014 at 10:36 AM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 3
Saw it...
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on May 2, 2014 at 10:36 AM · Report this
CMRz 4
I thought it was cool. It reminded me of the comics.
Posted by CMRz on May 2, 2014 at 11:04 AM · Report this
T 5
@2 I think @1 was talking about in the overall arc that's mapped out for the reboots. From what they have now, there will be 3 more repeat villains - Doc Oc and Sandman from the Sinister Six, and Venom. It's a dilemma that the X-Men prequel/faux-reboot faced too - reuse characters or draw from the pool of the totally obscure.

Anyway, the first Amazing Spider-Man was a dud, and I didn't have high hopes for this either.
Posted by T on May 2, 2014 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Spot on take, m'man. It was so off base and, worse, boooooooring. I also rolled my eyes at how much of Electro's makeover was blatantly stolen from Dr. Manhattan from "Watchmen."
Posted by Reboot, emo Spider-Man sucks! on May 2, 2014 at 11:43 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 7
More interested in the local film SharkNado 3: Orca's Revenge, and the SIFF presentation of How To Train Your Dragon 2 (in 3D).

Oh, btw, Nia Vardolous (sp?) is comin to Seattle for the SIFF Gay-la film
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 2, 2014 at 12:38 PM · Report this
fletc3her 8
@2 They probably are doing better with villains than I give them credit.
Posted by fletc3her on May 2, 2014 at 2:16 PM · Report this
The Amazing Spider-Man 2: You Have to Actively Try to Fuck Up a Movie Review This Bad

“Parker's parents, making them secret agents and genius inventors and otherwise Very Special People. This is a dumb idea.” – Agreed

“By making him a Luke Skywalker-style child of destiny, you're robbing the character of everything that makes him special.” – Agreed

“Characters either have simplistic motivations, or no motivation at all.” – Based on this quote I am concerned you don’t read comics.

“Another character transforms from a gloomy young adult to a raving lunatic with absolutely no gear-shifts [sic] in between.” – This is the second quote that leads me to believe that you are attempting to say the movie is a bad translation of the comic, with no knowledge of comic books, let alone this series.

“The central love affair in the film, between Peter Parker and Gwen is improbable at best” – Yes, that was the point. Not sure where you were trying to go with this. Also, fans never just call her “Gwen”

“There are no people in this movie, only action figures being moved about from set to set, with a very specific endgame in mind.” -- Honestly, have you ever read a comic book?

For a movie based on a comic your article is long. Long, boring and a cliché of a poor review of a comic book movie. It lacks creative zeal, a point, or any intellectual value. Based on the content of the review and the aimless structure, it seems fair to question if the writer saw the movie or just based their assumptions on other existing critical reviews and promotional materials. The editor of this online publication might want demand to see the this critic’s ticket stub to validate whether they saw the movie.

The movie is almost exactly like “Amazing Spider-Man” the comic. A comic known for six of the hokiest over the top villains in comic book history. There is a continuous bombardment of deus ex machine and wit. Just like in the comic. Amazing Spider-Man is not serious. He fights guys in cheesy power armor based on animals.

Batman and The Avengers have found good outlets in a pseudo-believable fantasy reality. However, that is not the world of “Amazing Spider-Man.” If you read Amazing Spider-Man, you realize that the villains in that series are just silly. If you are going to make a movie based on that series, turning it into “The Dark Knight” or “Man of Steel” is just blasphemy.

For people telling people to ’ leave your brain behind,’ that’s foolish. If you brought your brain to a movie about a man who dresses up in a spandex spider outfit to face enemies like “Hobgoblin and Electro” then you were a fool to waste your money. If you don’t like comic books, you shouldn't be going to see comic book movies and you damn well shouldn't complain when the comic book movie is too comic book.

The movie is fine. It does the silly series justice for the fans of that particular Spider-Man series. To the writer of this review, I would suggest you actually go see the movie now and come back to write a review. After all, it’s better than the new Superman, X-Men: Last Stand, Origins Wolverine or the third Spider-Man movie.
Posted by ragedizz on May 2, 2014 at 5:35 PM · Report this

Lol, fanboy created an account just to post about The Terrible Spooderman films.
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on May 2, 2014 at 6:44 PM · Report this
Knat 11
The quality of the film doesn't really matter. It's far more lucrative for Columbia Pictures to continue making garbage than to sell back the rights to Marvel. Though I really do hope you are wrong about the Clone Saga thing. I happened to read up about that earlier today, and it convinced me that DC does not have a monopoly on horrible villain ideas, clumsy retcons, or wince-inducing writing.

@9: TL;DR: "yur wrong cuz im rite and you don agree."

I don't think you've read enough of Paul Constant's (that's "the writer" whose name you couldn't be bothered to scroll up to check) reviews or posts here on Slog to know that he absolutely does read comics, and doesn't shit on comic book movies simply for what they are.
Posted by Knat on May 2, 2014 at 9:48 PM · Report this
Actually, this review was just shit. I get annoyed when I read reviews that read like the writer just based their work on other reviews and what they "think a movie" is going to be like. If you're going to be published for writing movie reviews you should go see the movie. If this writer has seen the film, then they needs to do some research on how to write a review and possibly buy a book. A cruel review of a bad film you genuinely don't like is one thing; a cruel review that is as poorly written, boring and long as the film your panning is another. But, faking a review that is poor and critical of a movie is bullshit. This writer needs to go see the movie and come back and write the review they were paid for. Even if it's bad.

Posted by ragedizz on May 2, 2014 at 9:52 PM · Report this
brandon 13
@4 Musta been really good weed because thats the only way that movie could have been made tolerable.

Who ever green lit this piece of shit (yeah, full on pure 100 percent shit) should be drug out in the town square and shot. They didn't even try to make a decent movie. They spent so much time trying to make "dark and gritty" spiderman in the last one (which sucked but was tolerable) and TOTALLY turned it into a combination camp/shlock fest worthy of Joel Shumacher. And what the fucking hell was up with that NY "I'm walkin' here!" meets white suburban kid trying to be street accent?

Paul is often over critical of summer blockbusters, but he is spot on here. Save your money.
Posted by brandon on May 3, 2014 at 10:52 AM · Report this
Get a life you fucking losers. The fact that you all spent so much time ripping this film is a joke.
Stop going to Comic films any whining so much afterward.
Just sit at home jerking off to the original Star Wars films.

Posted by You Mom on May 11, 2014 at 5:43 PM · Report this
@14, Butt hurt much?

Moving on...
That review was spot on. The people that like this film are the same people that think that utter turd Man of Steel was good. What we have here are Nolan fanboys who love these crappy films because they copy the Dark Knight Trilogy's "dark & gritty" style. Emotional baggage? Check. Mysterious/important parents? Check. Dark & gritty works for Batman. But for Spider-Man & Superman, not so much. I REALLY wish Marvel Studios had control of the Spider Man films.
Posted by RCC on May 12, 2014 at 3:42 AM · Report this

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