Cinematic Releases: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not as bad as you thought it was going to be.

"How many times do I have
to tell you? This is way
better than that crappy
Spider-Man 3 by that other guy!"

Two things I need to get out of the way...

First, I get it. I really do. I understand why Amazing Spider-man 2 has gotten a sour mix of reviews. I get that people find the hopeless teenage romance thing to be nauseating, trying, and played out. I'm with you. Believe it. If you never experienced the cheesy naive puppy love some people only went through being a dumb high school child, then Amazing Spider-man is just not for you. In fact, Spider-man--period--is just not for you.

The second thing is that I'm a very big Spider-Man fan. Besides Green Lantern, he's my favorite superhero. I love Peter's story. I can relate to it. I also get this side of the coin.

The third thing is that I really enjoyed Amazing Spidey 2. A lot.

I went to the theater this night with five other people all with unique takes on the film. It boiled down to this: the people who have never got into reading Spidey books didn't respond favorably to the film. The people who knew Spider-man had a generally more positive take. Here's mine.

Immediately my ears noticed something unique about this superhero film. The music sounded unlike any super-flick I can remember at this moment. The score was darn cool. Each character had extraordinarily distinct theme that is still memorable as I type this. My favorite, in particular was Harry Osborn or Green Goblin's theme which was a darker, droning horror tune reminiscent of the Unsolved Mysteries background strings. I'm sure there is a wave of you snide hipsters who think you know anything about music who will trash Electro's theme for being too "dubsteppy," but I know an adept, complimentary piece of villain music when I hear it. Ya'll can go to hell. Electro's jam was ultra cool.

But, no one cares about music, Jesse. How lame was Peter Parker crying in every single scene?

So lame, guys. So lame that I loved it. Peter and Gwen's moments were ripped right out of the primary

colors and word bubbles. This is Peter Parker, though. Yes, he's a teenager with hormones, and cute girlfriends, and a murdered Uncle, and mutated angry people trying to kill him all the time. Granted, the Peter Parker in the books is just barely out of his pre-teens and admittedly far less hardened to life than, say, Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark, but that's exactly the point. He's a child still. If you were 18 years old and in the same unfathomably impossible position, you'd be a slobbering angsty little boy, too! Which brings me to the impressive fact that Marc Webb continues to handle this part of Peter's life so very well.

The scenes exploring Gwen and Peter's love and missteps felt genuinely of age. I had those conversations in
"Peter, everywhere I go, girls
keep calling me Leo. I'm so
sick of it!"
relationships, minus the whole being a superhero thing. I've seen these situations happen and I've gone through them. Believe me, though silly on the surface--I get it--the sparks flew and fizzled in all the right places. Oh, man, did they ever get this arc right. 

Impressive more so is the fact that we all know that Sony is responsible for injecting as many villains in here as possible to potentially build their own Avengers, and yet Webb juggles the pressure of the script respectably. Each character isn't thrown at you simultaneously--as I feared they would be--Chris, here at The Movie Sleuth described it perfectly: "compartmentalized." Building the villain's stories developed over the course of markedly separate chapters that gave the characters room to breathe. And Jamie Foxx wasn't that bad, folks. Seriously, stop it. He was a pretty rad villain and always exciting to watch especially when trouncing Spider-man. Electro was certainly the star of the action, which I'll be rewinding over and over once I own it on Sony blu-ray. These fights were extremely cool, especially when throwing Peter's Spidey-sense into the skirmish. Ultra lasers and tasteful speed ramping whirled and slammed like poetry to my eyeballs.

Enjoying Amazing Spider-man 2 comes at a cost, however. The cheese level is a little high. Yeah, I dug Gwen and Peter's romance, but it tended to push just a bit hard in moments. Yeah, I enjoyed Electro, but a line or two caused my eyes to roll. Yeah, the chapter-like pacing of the characters was a relief, but they still cheated a bit too much for my taste, feeling as if some key conflicts were too convenient or wholly unnecessary. You'll know what I mean as the finale is running its course. It does approach traffic jam levels of muddled scripting. The entire theater crowd collectively yawned at a manipulative airplane subplot which felt like a deleted scene accidentally left in for the sake of tacked on suspense.

"Now you've done it! Papa Smurf
is super electro Smurfed!"
Some friends I left the theater with felt the humor was over-the-top--that Spidey's sarcasm fell flat or that there was just too much comedy overall. Arguably, they could be right about the comedy, but I sincerely enjoyed every moment of it. But Spidey's classic sarcasm? Actually, in the books, Peter isn't oozing with an endless supply of mega clever lines all the time. In fact, a majority of his quips are pretty bad because the guy is a dork! His lines are not supposed to be knee-slapping hilarity. He's purposely attempting to psyche out his foes with any oddball nonsense that comes to him. That's Spider-man!

Again, people, I get it. I totally understand where the negative critiques are coming from. These new films are not for everyone. I think too many people are clinging to Raimi's Spider-man or wondering why every movie ever isn't the sequel to Dark Knight that we never got. As a Spider-man fan, I can tell you, that Marc Webb's Peter Parker is the closest rendition of the hero we've seen outside of the books. A lot of people can't jive with that, and that's cool. But for me, for this selfish Spidey fan, I'm loving this new series even with all of its flaws.

-JG Barnes