Posts Tagged ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2


PostView: The Amazing Spider-Man 2


PostViews are off-the-cuff thoughts on specific aspects of a film that we would like to address. They may not cover all the broad strokes of a film and will appear in lieu of a full review.

I really, really, want to love director Marc Webb‘s new Spider-Man reboot, but when I watched the first film two years ago, and the sequel now in theaters, all I’m reminded of is a cash grab by Sony. While this latest Spidey film is at times exciting to watch, many times I found myself asking “what exactly is going on here?” (both narratively and technically). In the end, everything really did circle back to this post-Avengers world that moviegoers now live in where multi-film franchises are now the norm and all superhero properties must do world building to continuously provide movies for studios pump out. Here are a few thoughts that I had after taking in the latest Spidey film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

CGI Gone Amok


Thrilling as this sequence is to watch, it’s one of the many in the film that proves the saying ‘too much of a good thing.’

Within the first 10-15 minutes of the film I was immediately taken out by the obvious and overuse of CGI. Now don’t get me wrong, superhero films necessitate the need for CGI effects. I mean, you can’t have Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk or larger than life helicarriers without an visual artist magically crafting these images on a computer. However, in the opening sequence of the film Spider-Man uses his amazing agility to catch about a dozen vials as they get dislodged from their container and go bouncing around the truck they’re being carried in. While I know Spidey is that good, the scene plays out lightning quick with him grabbing and web shooting each and every vial at an inhuman pace. Visually, I know Andrew Garfield is not moving that fast, but nonetheless there is Spider-Man moving at breakneck speed. While it fits with what the character can do, it didn’t fit or feel right within the realm of believability. In short–it looked fake.

Yes, when watching a superhero film, you do need to suspend some disbelief. However, movie magic and visual effects behind a film should transport you to another world; not take you out of it. While there are many fine and believable uses of CGI throughout the film, there are a number of sequences, similar to the one in the opening sequence, where it looks too fake. Though I did lament this point in Iron Man 3 overall Marvel is pretty good with their blending of practical and CGI effects work for their characters. I don’t know if Sony could have done any better if they had more time or put more money into the effects, but I think they should have changed some of these scenes to accommodate more “real” and practical effects work.

Relationships Highlight the Film

Just two kids looking for love in a topsy turvy world.

Just two kids looking for love in a topsy turvy world.

As with the first film, I thought that the relationships again were the highlight. The chemistry between Garfield and Emma Stone was great and every time there was interplay between their characters it just felt really authentic and kept drawing me back into the film. Stone is always solid with relationship roles, but combine that with Gwen’s knowledge of Peter’s secret and you have a dynamic that’s interesting because of the tension that it causes between them. One thing that got tired in the Sam Raimi series was all the angsty drama that resulted from Mary Jane never knowing Peter’s secret identity for nearly two films. Unencumbered by that here, Gwen and Peter’s relationship is actually strengthened by her knowing his secret and the film is all the better for it.

Another great relationship, though is a bit short lived, is the mother/son relationship between Peter and Aunt May. Probably more so than in the last Amazing Spider-Man film I thought this relationship was really well presented in the film. While there is just one big scene which pretty much sums up the extend of the relationship, it’s still very heartfelt and very well acted by Garfield and Sally Field. Not even in Raimi’s version of Spider-Man did I feel this kind of relationship between Peter and Aunt May, so overall, great job by Webb in developing these relationships and making them really shine.

Spider-Man 3 Villain Syndrome?

Clobberin' time it ain't.

Clobberin’ time it ain’t.

One thing I think a lot of people were worried about (myself included) was the much alluded to battle/joining of forces between the purported three villains that were showcased in all of The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s promotional material: Electro, The Green Goblin, and Rhino. In Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 its trio of villains essentially overpowered the film and chopped up several story lines which didn’t give the film cohesiveness and led to the downfall of that picture. Again, going in, I was worried if Webb and Sony even knew what they were doing by putting three villains in another Spider-Man film. Could they make the same mistakes again?

While some may say that Sony hasn’t learned their lesson with including too many villains in a film, I’m going to say that they handled the three villains in a more responsible and measured way this time around. Without venturing into spoilers, there really is only one villain in this film with another just along for the ride and the last of three not really needing to be included save for table setting for the Sinister Six film (more on this in a bit).

While the two main villain plot lines become intertwined, I felt that they were handled fairly well and there was enough room in the film for everyone’s story to breathe and not be bogged down by having two many arcs run rampant and not given them their due. In this sense, Sony did learn their lesson and essentially and toned down the villain count to make the overall story of the film more cohesive than in Raimi’s Spider-Man 3.

Sony vs Marvel

Just like Peter Parker alone on a rooftop, Marvel Studios looks out at Sony, Fox, and Warner Bros as they try to jump on the superhero bandwagon.

Just like Peter Parker alone on a rooftop, Marvel Studios looks out at Sony, Fox, and Warner Bros as they try to jump on the superhero bandwagon.

Finally, perhaps my biggest gripe against this film is the way it made me compare what Sony is doing with Spider-Man to what Marvel is doing with the Avengers. I touched on this in my intro, but I’ll be more specific here; there are a number of times in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 where things are done for no other reason than to set the table for future Sony films involving Spidey and other characters from this world–which I think is a detriment to this film.

I couldn’t help but make these comparisons to what Marvel is doing because while Marvel is very smart about their world building and uses a lot of subtlety and nuance, Sony uses a hammer and hits you over the head with their table setting. While Sony has come outright and said that they will be developing a Sinister Six and Venom films, this does not excuse them from leaving blatant setup and plot points for those films in this one. In many ways The Amazing Spider-Man 2 could be considered the Sony equivalent of Iron Man 2 with all the world building that they’re doing here.

Case in point, with their in-credits and post-credits scenes aside, the entirety of a Marvel film is strictly dedicated to a self contained story arc. While the results of each Marvel film affect future films, there aren’t really any direct influences from one film to the next. Past events are referenced, or flashed back to, but nothing in a Marvel film blatantly setups anything in future films. In fact, after you watch a Marvel film, it makes you want to go back to see how far back in past films Marvel started planting seeds.

With Sony, they basically come right out and tell you that “hey, a couple of us bad guys in this film, we’re going to be in the next film.” While it’s no secret that large events in the comics are making their way into the films, you’d like to think that it would be presented in a way that’s organic and seems natural. As a result, there are quite a number of elements that are left unresolved at the end of this film and though not necessarily bad, I just personally think it’s lazy storytelling. There are ways to hint at things without specifically stating them or leaving them open ended. Only films that have parts (ie: Part I, Part II) should be able to get away with that.

At the end of the day I felt that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a mixed bag. On the one hand there are some very well choreographed scenes and fights with some great emotional moments with Peter and Gwen and then again with Aunt May. But on the other side of the coin is overuse of CGI that took me out of the film numerous times coupled with the obvious table setting that Sony is doing for future installments. In many respects my concerns mirror the complaints of many critics who have been saying that the film is essentially more flash than substance. While not totally off base I do see what a lot of them are saying.

Like it or not the Sony machine will be pumping out Spidey films for the foreseeable future, with Webb along for at least one more go around. As other studios do their best to mimic the Avengers model with multiple character movies leading into mega-team up films, only time will tell if Sony can course correct and learn from the misfires from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in much the same way they learned from their mistakes with Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. I won’t be holding my breath.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is currently playing in theaters everywhere.

3/5 stars // PG-13 // 2h 21min


Super Spots V

Not even Morpheus could contain his excitement over seeing Grimlock's Super Bowl trailer.

Not even Morpheus could contain his excitement over seeing Grimlock’s Super Bowl trailer.

In what started off as a seemingly easy way to start off this blog five years ago, my annual ‘Super Spots’ post has become a beloved tradition. Though I think it’s getting harder to discuss and dissect Super Bowl trailers when studios are being more budget conscious and not participating as much as in past years. This year, only four studios had spots during (and before) the game.

It’s definitely been a sad trend, but I honestly can’t blame the studios. The price of a 30 second spot during the Super Bowl has only risen in the five years I’ve been running this blog–and I don’t think it will stop anytime soon. Two years ago the cost of a 30 second spot was $3 million dollars. This year it was reported as being $4 million. In my very first Super Spots post I postulated that the reason studios got in on the Super Bowl was because they have a captive audience to which they can announce the coming of their tentpole films. Sadly with the increasing price of Super Bowl advertising, I think the trend of studios continuing to bring trailers will continue to slide.

Looking at this year’s crop of trailers, only one really stood out and I think the big reason why is because Transformers was giving us our first look at the film. All the other trailers that were shown were from films that have had a trailer or two out already–basically it was sort of stuff we’ve seen before. If you’re spending $4 million dollars or more and have only got 30 seconds to get your point across, you’ve got to bring your show stopper; something that will blow people away. A good case in point . . . last year’s big game spot for Furious 6. You remember that one don’t you? The one that introduced us to “vehicular warfare” and ended with a car exploding out of the nose of a plane. Need I say more?

Like I said, only one trailer this year sort of had that level of cool while the rest were just kinda meh. Here’s a rundown of this year’s Super Bowl trailers and my rating on how excited each of these got me for their impending release.

Draft Day :: Pre-game :: Excitement Level – 2/5

A trailer for a movie about the NFL, authorized by the NFL, and playing during the Super Bowl . . . talk about home field advantage. Under the endorsement of the NFL (they wouldn’t be able to use real teams or NFL logos if they didn’t) Draft Day makes perfect use of its Super Bowl spot to announce to everyone that this movie is where the next season starts for the NFL. While dramatizing the draft might not seem all that exciting, I like what Summit did here by co-opting all the hype around the NFL draft and directing it towards a dramatization of the draft. From playing on the “season starts with the draft” mantra, to Denis Leary’s proclamation as the Cleveland Browns coach that “this city deserves a championship”, to the montage of intense draft day negotiations, hopefully Draft Day can wrangle in some of the 111 million football fans watching the final game of the season.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier :: Pre-game :: First Reaction :: Excitement Level – 3/5

Marvel couldn’t have picked out a better place to debut their trailer than in the area of the broadcast sandwiched in between America the Beautiful and the National Anthem. Aside from the smart placement and the common themes of patriotism that came with it, all they really had was old footage set to a slow instrumental of a violin playing America the Beautiful. Ending with the Winter Soldier punching Cap’s shield to top off the trailer was great and all, but there wasn’t much to get excited about. Except for when they direct you to the second full length trailer online. I’ll give them an extra point for that.


Noah :: Pre-game :: First Reaction :: Excitement Level – 2/5

Sadly I think most of the footage shown in this spot we’ve already seen. The one bright spot though was appearance of angels descending to Earth (in that one scene where yellow lights are heading towards Earth–maybe?). Hollywood’s got a bushel of religious based films coming out this year and from everything in the first trailer I couldn’t help but notice that there was no mention of God at all. I think you could tell the tale of Noah without bringing up God, but I think it would be pretty hard to do. Seeing this potentially divine reference says that they’re definitely keeping some stuff in Noah close to the vest, but still . . . I wished they had showed us more.


Need for Speed :: 1st Quarter :: First Reaction :: Excitement Level – 2/5

What I like about this trailer is that they play up to their title with the quick montage of different vehicles going really fast. It gets your blood pumping a little, especially with the quick cuts of all the different drivers in the film–intensely driving. There’s definitely a bit of an early Fast and Furious vibe going on, but other than that, there’s nothing really earth shattering about this trailer.


Transformers: Age of Extinction :: 2nd Quarter :: First Reaction :: Excitement Level – 4/5

Before the game I knew that Transformers: Age of Extinction was going to be my most anticipated trailer of the game because it was the only film that was going to give us our first look at the film. All the other films debuting spots already had previous footage of them out there, but this one, we were going to get our first look at Mark Wahlberg and potentially the Dinobots! With my expectations already high, the trailer definitely delivered the goods. From Optimus seemingly getting blasted by Galvatron (maybe?), to a flying dragon/dinobot Transformer; all culminating with what appeared to be Optimus riding on the back of Grimlock with a sword, the trailer blew me away and was by far the best one out of this year’s bunch. Doesn’t get a perfect score due to the Michael Bay factor.


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 :: 2nd Quarter :: First Reaction :: Excitement Level – 3/5

The sad part about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is that their first trailer just blew us all away with the possibility of the Sinister Six being in the mix. How do you top that in your Big Game spot? Well, you can’t really in my opinion. Granted we do get some new footage of Gwen and Spidey falling and Spidey rescuing a falling Gwen in another shot, but aside from that, the biggest thing this trailer gave use was the website. If you happen to mosey over there you get a nearly four minute long trailer which shows us the origin of Electro and more of the crazy special effects orgy where Electro shoots lightning at Spidey. Mainly going off of the Super Bowl spot I give it 2 points with an extra bonus point for an extended trailer online.

If you happened to have the pre-game broadcast on really early you might have seen a few more trailers for Monuments Men, Robocop, and Pompeii. They aren’t included in this roundup since they were on more than a half hour before kickoff and I simply just didn’t have time to wait around during pregame to look for them. Instead, I’ve got a few more movie related commercials that I thought were fun . . .

“The Truth” with Morpheus for the KIA K900 :: directed by Carl Erik Rinsch, 47 Ronin

I had heard about this commercial before the game, but actually seeing was just totally hilarious. Seeing Morpheus pull his “red pill/blue pill” monologue from the first Matrix was one thing, but the sheer hilarity from his pseudo-Matrix Revolutions Neo-like opera singing was the icing on the cake. Granted it was corny as hell, but it was still really fun.


British Villains ‘Rendezvous’ for Jaguar :: directed by Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech, Les Misérables

What’s great about this commercial is it’s not only that they’re so right that Brits have the best villain roles, they also have all the best good guy roles as well. It’s so fun to see these guys really revel in their villain personas–even if it is exaggerated for this commercial. If there was a real movie with these actors in it all playing villains; I’d totally watch it.

With the prices for Super Bowl advertising continuing to go up, I can see a day when studios no longer advertise during the Big Game. With a decent trailer being at least a minute long, it might not be that cost effective or feasible to grab someone’s attention with a 30 second spot, especially with it going upwards of four million. As if this year’s crop of trailers show, the trend seems to be to cut a decent spot together, then direct everyone to the full version online–there by getting the most bang for your buck. I fear eventually the studios are just going to realize that if they’re putting their trailers online to begin with, is it really worth it to shell out $4 million for a Super Bowl sign post directing people to our trailer? Probably not.

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