Friday, May 02, 2014

Tim's Review of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"

Tim here, and let me start by saying that this movie is an average film overall. Whether you want to look at amongst superhero movies or all of filmmaking history the movie falls into the category of average. This is why I ended up deciding to give the movie a C+ score, and after reading my thoughts you can see the movie for yourself to make up your own mind.

Flat out the story and plot are the main areas where this movie fell flat and was very "BLAAHH!" In the very beginning of the movie my suspension of disbelief is thrown because I can't understand how in the past Peter's father was supposed to have uploaded a video file over an Ethernet port from a private jet to the cloud... Did the cloud exist back then? When is back then? I'd say late 1990's or early 2000's if the movie was taking place in present day, which seems reasonable to assume. So how does he not only upload the file, but get interrupted and start from the same place each time. As some of us know if we start uploading a file to a server via FTP and it gets interrupted you have to start over again. Only sometimes if you're lucky it will continuing from where it got interrupted. That's one of the first things that was hard to swallow.

The movie continues at an uneven pace and often gets to a slow crawl despite the action sequences that pop up. At the center is a love story that is strong and is done well thanks to the great performances from Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, but the rest of the movie fails to take off. The plot revolving around what Peter's father did never really feels like it works, nor does his father's explanation for why Peter would have gotten his abilities while anyone else wouldn't. The movie is an exercise in waste, and as well fails to bring anything truly new to the table. The conclusion of the love story at the end of this movie is the only fitting aspect, and the only thing the audience will have an emotional reaction to. At the same time it makes it difficult to bring Peter's true love interest of the Spiderman universe Mary Jane Watson into the mix.

Another area I had trouble understanding how it could happen, and was not an area my suspension of disbelief would accept the event, was in the creation of Jamie Foxx's Electro. First, Foxx's Max/Electro character is underdeveloped and then there's no clue given as to why he would survive his accident to turn into this villainous character and no one else would. Especially since electric eels are involved and the movie establishes that Oscorp has abandoned animal experimentation after the events of the last film. So why are the eels there? Also, what about the bullies and tormentors of Max from earlier in the film? Why do they disappear never to be heard or seen again? I'm sure Max would have wanted revenge on them. There's a serious failure on the storytelling here.

So next we come to the other villain of the movie: Harry Osborn, AKA The Green Goblin. His character was also underdeveloped, but was also way too sullen. Dane Dehaan did a fine job with what he had to work with, but the emotional range of the character was sullen and really angry. His relationship with Peter wasn't developed enough and additionally the decease that afflicted his father and now consumes him felt rushed. His overall purpose was to setup the next installment's plot.

And, that's the biggest pitfall of this movie: it's all setup for the bigger franchise. It doesn't stand on its own. Paul Giamatti was poorly used as an extremely one-dimensional Aleksei Sytsevich who will end up being The Rhino in the next film. His character is over-animated and over the top and terribly uses the high level of acting Giamatti is capable of delivering. It doesn't seem like he'll work in The Amazing Spiderman 3 as a compelling villain. It's all a setup for the Sinister Six, and Harry Osborne will be at the center as The Green Goblin.

Beyond the story the technical aspects of the film were on par with a big budget movie like this. The stereoscopic 3D was average however because they chose to make it a hybrid instead of a fully native 3D production. I call it hybrid because it was shot in 2D with 35mm film and all the digital VFX were rendered in stereo. This caused a lot of the live action elements shot on 35mm to feel flatter as the 3D wasn't pushed enough for there to be true depth in the shots. A lot of the CGI elements created by the VFX department worked great in stereo and they pushed it as much as they should have, but that didn't help the earlier decision that the rest would be converted to 3D. It was a step back from the last installment. Also, 3D conversion on 2D shot action scenes where it's close shaky camera and quick cutting never works well for me. I saw the movie in MasterImage 3D and Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound.

The sound design wasn't anything innovative, but was technically good. The score by Hans Zimmer felt recycled from his previous scores. The Electro theme and music style worked well and had some creativity in it, but still sounded too similar to what Hans Zimmer has done in The Dark Knight franchise and last year's Man of Steel. It's easy to expect more from this talented composer.

Marc Webb did a fine job making this movie, but in the end failed to go beyond average. It's going to be hard keeping excitement amongst fans with this by the numbers delivery. Let's hope that things are greatly improved with the next installment.

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Jim Dorey
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