Okay, before I rip this movie a new one (and you can rest assured that that's exactly what I'm going to do) I'm going to talk about the things I liked about it.
Nobody in the cast gave a "bad performance," as far as I'm concerned. They're all talented actors and they fit their characters well. The most BELIEVABLE characters? Hmmm... I'd certainly nominate Sally Field (who has one of the best Aunt May scenes ever). Then there's Dane DeHaan as the tormented Harry Osborn (we'll get to the Green Goblin later) who had the best character arc going... and in quite the reverse, Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man (we'll get to Peter Parker later).
There are plenty of individual sequences that work; especially the opening chase involving an out-of-control Paul Giamatti (more on HIM later, too). And there are welcome bits of humor (stopping the security guards, attempting to answer the cell phone) that provoke the requisite chuckles).
Some of the effects are "cartoony," but that's not going to bother me when I grew up with Spider-Man as an animated character in the first place... meanwhile, Electro and his visions were certainly well-rendered.
No, it's not the cast and it's not the special effects. And that's as kind as I'm ever going to be to one of the most astonishingly, appallingly WRONG-headed blunders ever made by a franchise with a pretty darn good track record up to now. At least since BATMAN & ROBIN (and I use that example most pointedly, as you will see...
NEVER have I seen a Marvel film try so hard to be a DC film--specifically, trying to mimic the Batman series... the one launched by Tim Burton, not Christopher Nolan. Let me count the ways...
1. Electro. Jamie Foxx is, as I implied earlier, a very talented actor. And I suppose the green-suited comic book character with the lightning-bolt mask would have been laughed off the screen in live action, so some sort of re-imagining was necessary. But might they at least have TRIED to be original? This nebbishy, hero-worshiping office outsider (and genius) who snaps? Why not just CALL him Edward Nigma while you're at it? "Max" is the most shameless Riddler clone imaginable... at least up until his fateful transformation (which, as far as I'm concerned, owes a page to the Halle Berry CATWOMAN, of all things). And after that? No matter how good the special effects are, he's pretty much Dr. Manhattan from WATCHMEN (although his pants appear miraculously before you can see too much)--or as my son pointed out, what would happen if Dr. Manhattan managed to have a son with Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze! Jamie Foxx could and should have been a TERRIFIC Spider-villain, but everybody involved in this production let him down hideously.
2. Remember how Superman had a Fortress of Solitude which rose from the earth at the tossing of a magic token... and how Superman could watch pre-recorded messages from his parents within? A-het, a-het, a-HEM...
3. The fateful climactic fight in the tower? Straight out of Burton's original BATMAN complete with the near-misses and falls. And the character we take to be the Green Goblin (though I missed it if that name was ever actually invoked) is trying his best to act like the Joker (even though he looks like nothing more than Peter Pan on a bad hair day).
Okay, moving past the DC comparisons. As for "fateful?" I suppose I should avoid spoilers for the sake of the completely uninitiated, but yes, for the first time a Spider-Man film dares to invoke one of the most profound events in comic book history. Unfortunately, nothing in the buildup moves us to CARE. Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) spend the entire film spouting the most hackneyed, old-school "break-up-make-up" banter as poor Peter anguishes over his dual identity and the promise he made to Gwen's dead police captain father. And no, nobody gets a pass for making the characters ACKNOWLEDGE that they're acting out cliches, either.
Oh, and when I said "climactic," I didn't mean FINAL. In one of the most grievous miscalculations ever to visit the franchise, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 just doesn't know when to quit. Perhaps it doesn't suffer as badly from "too many endings" as RETURN OF THE KING, but this film just doesn't know when it already HAS the best possible ending. It just can't bear to wrap up on a downbeat note (gee, for something that pilfers so heavily from DC, SOMEONE on the team might have remembered that it didn't exactly hurt THE DARK KNIGHT), so it wastes SO much potential emotion on a final ten minutes that should have been withheld and enhanced as the first THIRTY minutes of the THIRD entry. Mark my words... a careful buildup like that would AUTOMATICALLY guarantee that viewers would have placed THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3 well above its predecessor. Yes, that finale was quite good. But now that they've "hot-shotted" it (in the parlance of pro wrestling), it's too late.
Which brings me to Paul Giamatti. It was a HUGE mistake to let people in on the fact that the Rhino was going to be part of this movie. Lord knows I spent enough distracted time waiting for him to show up. And again, I don't particularly care about the re-imagining of the character. It'll work in this context and Giamatti's going to be great fun in the role. But they should have saved his re-emergence as a credit cookie. Case closed.
Oh, and SPEAKING of credit cookies??? Don't get me STARTED on the commercial for the new X-MEN movie that we're offered as an "extra scene." Hey, the movie's probably going to rock. And I've heard plenty about how they're planning to fuse the Spidey/X universe and start new franchises with Venom, the Sinister Six, what have you. But there is absolutely none of the clever planning that marked the pre-AVENGERS movies in evidence here. Yeah, maybe it will all coalesce one day. But what we have RIGHT NOW is a blatant, glaring plug for an unrelated movie (with its own copyright notice, even) plunked in the middle of A.S.2's end title sequence. Tired of commercials in movie theatres? Well, now we have commercials in MOVIES outside of the already-rampant world of product placement (want another diversion during this mess? Count the Sony plugs).
Okay, time to try to wind down (and cool down). Most of the action sequences are either hyper-fast or super-slow and place too much emphasis on the "Look! This is in 3-D!" (which I didn't plunk down for... in fact, my family won free tickets and we certainly got what we paid for) appearance. The slo-mo worked ONCE (when Spidey was saving innocent victims from Electro's first rampage). But that brings me to another point... do you REALLY expect anybody to believe that nobody ELSE was hurt or killed during ANY of these events?
Deep breath... deep breath...
And the SOUNDTRACK? Feel my pain.
Look at all the dollars. Look at all the pedigree. Look at the quality that came before. What the hell happened?
This movie is GARBAGE.
But Mick liked it. So there you go.
As in not off. If you want to post about mainstream flicks, this is the forum.
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