18 April 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 kind of sucks

Disclaimer time: I pretty much hated the first Amazing Spider-Man. It's one of the most forgettable films that I have seen in recent years, and was only made so that Sony could keep the rights to the character. It was a business move rather than a film made by people who care, and it showed. I went into The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with pretty low expectations, and a good idea of what was going to happen in this film thanks to the spoiler filled advertising campaign.

From the second it starts to the very last frame, this film does an awful lot wrong. It may be the messiest, least restrained film I have seen in a long time - scenes interrupt each other, plot points are started and then dropped, only to be picked up an hour later and never finished, characters come and go and then disappear entirely - and it all ends up feeling illogical, unstructured and dissatisfying. It honestly feels like the film wasn't even really edited - a scene involving a pre-Electro Max Dillon feels like it never should have seen the light of day, and a very out of place evil scientist feels like he walked straight off the set of a bad James Bond porn parody.  

The film also really suffers from a lack of good characters. One of my main issues with the first film was that Peter Parker went through almost no character development other than the fact that he has spider powers by the end of it, and although this film does a lot better in this regard, there is a fatal misunderstanding of Spider-Man/Peter Parker that will really annoy anyone with knowledge of the morals Peter Parker is meant to have. As well as this, the only characters that actually felt real were Gwen, Peter and Aunt May - most others were incredibly two-dimensional and acted against any kind of logic that I could come up with, and unfortunately most events in the film follow the same pattern. There are so many scenes that have some kind of major logical flaw or plot hole that it is pointless trying to list them all - but pay special attention to any scenes involving the Ravencroft institution, and keep an eye on Electros clothes throughout the film.

The story of this film is all over the place as well. There are so many plot threads weaving in and out that I can't even really identify what the "main" plot is - if I had to take a guess then I would say that the intention was how Peter is struggling with the death of Gwens father after the first film and how that is affecting his relationship with Gwen, but it's barely touched upon after the first act. The problem is that not enough time is given to any one plot because the film is too busy setting up various plot points for the finale, later films and spin-offs. It suffers in the exact same way that Iron Man 2 did, only somehow it has even less direction to the story - Electro is created, Harry Osbourne shows up and turns into the Green Goblin, the Sinister Six is set up, we learn more about Peters parents, Peter is struggling with Gwen's father death, Gwen and Peter are having relationship troubles, Rhino makes an appearance - and these are just the plot points that aren't spoiler territory!

Don't be fooled by the adverts by the way - you've seen almost all of the Rhinos involvement in the film, which should be called a cameo more than an actual role. It is literally like if they had used Nick Fury's appearance in Iron Man as a fairly large part of the advertising strategy, which in itself feels like dishonest advertising. You can pretty much get the entire story of this film from the various trailers released for it - fairly big reveals in the film are totally spoilt by posters and trailers, and the last shot of the film is in each and every trailer I have seen.

On the plus side, Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield still have great chemistry, and most the action scenes are well done, if not a little to reliant on CGI. Dane De Haan made for a suitably creepy Harry Osbourne, Electro actually ended up being a fairly decent villain and I was fairly impressed with the use of music in this film - there is one action scene where the music is used in a fairly cool way to build tension, match camera cuts and character movement and help you relate to the antagonist. However, there is also a really awful part to an action scene that has Electro playing the electric pylon xylophone with Spider-Mans beaten body, which actually feels unintentionally cringe-worthy and another scene that should have been left on the cutting room floor.


In spite of all its massive flaws, I did actually prefer this film to The Amazing Spider-Man, but that truthfully isn't saying a lot. If you compare this to any of the more recent superhero films (particularly Marvel Studios films), you'll notice a vast difference in everything from how smart the audience is treated to how much the film makers care about the material and everything in between. This film is a small step in the right direction for Sony, but when Marvel Studios are already so far ahead and have started to sprint - well, it just isn't good enough.

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