Saturday, May 3, 2014

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

 I wasn't blown away by the first AMAZING SPIDER-MAN film a few years back, but it was a decent enough film, and I was kinda-sorta looking forward to the sequel. After 35 hours in the theater (At least it FELT like 35 hours...) I'm back with my report.


 OK, so....I dragged my poor wife to see this film, and she was a good sport about it, so she deserves a nice Mother's Day present for that. I don't know how this film is doing everywhere else, but here in Rochester, New York, it's cleaning up. Parts of the film were shot in Downtown Rochester last year, and this thing was then, and is now, ALL YOU SEE ON THE LOCAL NEWS. So the theater was PACKED for the 3:10 show, and the ticket-ripping-guy said it's been like that every show, and it's showing roughly every half-hour. Ka-ching!

The film opens with Bane hijacking a plane, shit, wait...That was THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. This film opens with Peter Parker's parents having a fistfight with an assassin on a private jet that would make James Bond proud. These films have entirely too much Parker parent stuff going on, and it really ups the long-as-fuckness quotient.

 From there, we arrive in scenic downtown Rochester, New York, filling in for Manhattan, with the aid of some digital trickery. Spidey foils the heisting of an Oscorp armored car, which is carrying some radioactive stuff that you would think might be important to the plot, but totally isn't. There was a part where a canister of radioactive goo rolls into the street, and I really expected it to either A)- Blind a young Matt Murdock, setting up Marvel's DAREDEVIL Netflix series, or B)- Irradiate a quartet of turtles and a rat. Neither one of those potentially fun things happened. 

 Paul Giamatti guest-stars as some-Russian-guy, who will later become The Rhino. I love Paul Giamatti, so it's all good, but man, his Russian accent was corny. Whatever. I love Paul Giamatti.

 Then, hack writers Orci & Kurtzman, who have never done anything that could be considered good, decide to remake the immortal classic BATMAN FOREVER, totally swiping The Riddler's "Crazy brilliant guy who, loves the hero but then becomes a villain because they feel slighted by him somehow" arc. This time, it's Max "Electro" Dillon who fills the bad-guy shoes, at least kind of. (More on that later.) I loathe Jamie Foxx on his best day, and this campy performance is far from his best day. Foxx's Electro is straight out of the Adam West BATMAN show. Electro has a pretty decent look in the film....I'm an old-school comic-book fan, so I'll always prefer this:
 but try putting that in a film these days and see where it gets you.

 Electro is, of course, an Oscorp employee, and he gets his powers as a result of an industrial accident. Foxx has a huge brawl against Spider-Man, Spidey beats him, and he's locked up in Ravencroft Asylum For The Criminally Insane. (You know it's a badass place if the have "The Criminally Insane" in their name. I eat that shit up with a spoon.) Of course, Ravencroft is secretly part of Oscorp, so it's run by a guy who looks like Hitler and sounds like Sgt. Schultz, and, of course, he's a bad guy.
 There's a brief appearance by the great Chris Cooper playing Norman Osborn. He croaks almost immediately (I doubt he's really dead....I'm sure we'll see him suit up in one of the sequels or spin-offs that Sony has planned....), and his death sets the clock ticking on his son Harry's life. Harry desperately needs Spider-Man's blood to cure his ridiculous, never really explained aliment. Spider-Man refuses to give up his precious blood, but it's OK, because Harry manages to become the hilarious-looking Green Goblin before death claims him. This iteration of The Green Goblin looks like  "Evil Ed" from the original FRIGHT NIGHT with added tooth decay and a flying machine, only gayer and less frightening/threatening.
 I hated the way Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin looked....this is about a bajillion times worse. Anyway, Harry breaks Electro out, in one of the most poorly conceived prison breakouts in the history of film. He basically drives up to the prison, asks to come in, somehow manages to get RIGHT INTO ELECTRO'S CELL, ARMED, NO LESS, and sets him free. I can almost picture Orci & Kurtzman saying "The retards who watch this shit will never know the difference....why write an actual scene? Fuck them!"

 Electro decides to lure Spider-Man into a fight by shutting down the city's power grid. You would think that the grid that powers MANHATTAN, of all places, would have people working there around the clock, but apparently it's just one guy, who has a key in his hand that unlocks the giant lever marked "GRID RESET". Spidey and Electro have a big fight that totally destroys the grid, but it's OK because Gwen Stacy puts in the key and pulls the RESET lever, which gives power to the beaten-to-fuck-grid that is held together by Spidey's webs. (They dissolve in an hour, so I don't know where the poor citizens of New York City will be then, but that's not our concern, right?)

 No sooner does Spidey beat Electro than the Lucky Charms Leprechaun, I mean The Green Goblin, shows up. They fight, and we finally get a cinematic Gwen Stacy death, and BOY, is it brutal. This poor girl's head hits the concrete in such a heart-rending manner....ouch. My Wife actually let out a huge gasp. This is especially sad because Emma Stone is so cute..she will be replaced in the next film by Mary Jane Watson, who is going to be played by Shailene Woodley, who was mercifully cut out of this already-too-fucking-looooooong film. Shailene Woodley looks like a thumb with a wig on it.
                                             Yeah, I'm mean.....I know.

You'd think the film was over now, but there's still a shit-ton left....Peter quits being Spider-man. Aunt May unknowingly talks him back into donning the suit, even though she has no idea that he IS Spider-Man. Then we see Paul Giamatti return as The Rhino, after we see Harry, in Ravencroft, tell that shadowy guy from the first film to assemble The Sinister Six. Giamatti shoots up Manhattan (Rochester, baby! Yeah!!!) with his mech-suit, threatens a kid dressed as Spidey, and then the film closes, literally CLOSES with a scene that they SHOW ON THE FREAKIN' COMMERCIAL!!!!
            Someone called this film "Spidey 2: Electro Boogaloo", which I think is hilarious.

 My Wife commented during the credits "I really thought it was finally over, but then I remembered that he still had to fight The Rhino, and I knew we still had another 15 or 20 minutes left. I felt so sad then." I felt a twinge of pride that my wife even knew who The Rhino was. My geekiness must be rubbing off. Happy me!

 I don't want to give you the impression that I hated this film, because I didn't. It was more a kind of bored disappointment. It was sooooooo fucking loooooong. People complain about THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING being too long.....I've seen that film maybe 100 times, even THE EXTENDED VERSION, and it flies by for me. This film dragged interminably. Andrew Garfield is an accessible, likeable Spider-Man, and his Peter Parker, while looking a tad old, hits all of the right notes. Emma Stone lights up the screen, and will be sorely missed. Sally Field is always a welcome presence, and she makes a good, modern Aunt May. Some of the effects are quite nice, especially when Spidey is swinging around during the daylight. The nighttime scenes, especially when he is fighting Electro, look like video-game
cut-scenes, even more so when they get into the slow-motion sequences. Peter has some witty dialogue that reminded me of the comics, and there's the obligatory Stan Lee appearance that always brings a smile to my face. The majority of the film, however, feels totally flat. The mystery of Peter's parents is a total dud...I don't care what happened to them, and no one else in the audience seemed to, either. There's a blatant set-up for future villains, such as Doctor Octopus and The Vulture (Again, SHOWN IN THE COMMERCIALS!!!), and they're already saying that the sequel AND a spin-off will feature The Sinister Six, but how the hell are they going to introduce a whole TEAM of bad guys when this film could barely handle Electro and the shoehorned-in Green Goblin and Rhino...?

 Sony is planning a Marvel Studios style slate of Spider-Man sequels and spin-offs, but I think they're REALLY overestimating this franchise....No one in the packed showing this afternoon seemed to really enjoy the film all that much. I'm a HUGE Spider-Man fan, and I could not wait for it to end.....that doesn't bode well. The Orci/Kurtzman writing team has supposedly broken up, so maybe Sony could round up an actual writer for the future Spidey franchise films.....I can dream, right?

 On a crabby note, I hate fucking leaving the house. Humanity is just so fucking rude, as a whole. I generally find the most success seeing the earliest possible show on a Saturday. Annoying people don't like to be up and about early, it seems. Thanks to fucking marriage-ruining Girl Scouts (Don't get me started....), my Wife was not available until the afternoon, and the babysitting stars aligned, so I was forced to see a 3:10 show, which was packed with:
Loud talkers.
People who brought crying babies that looked like they emerged dripping from the womb mere hours ago.
Teen-agers who came in groups of twenty or more.
Dozens of people who get up to pee every five fucking minutes.
And my favorite, hundreds of people who cannot spend one fucking second without looking at their fucking phone. The whole theater was lit up by phones. Why pay a fortune to see a movie if you can't stop looking at your fucking phone? Pirate the fucking thing and watch it ON YOUR PRECIOUS FUCKING PHONE AT HOME, MOTHERFUCKERS. I work for a living. I bust my ass, and pay my insane mortgage, property tax, state tax, federal tax, sales tax, breathing tax, etc. I have a modestly sized television. When people brag that their home theater is better than a real theater...? That ain't me. So I must occasionally venture forth and mingle with humanity to see certain films. And my low expectations for how people behave are always met, and frequently exceeded. Those people that had tiny, tiny babies at the show should be thrown in jail. These films are SO....LOUD. Babies have sensitive ears, assholes. Wake up. Take care of your baby. I didn't do shit for TWO FUCKING YEARS after our son was born. Because I didn't want to be one of those cuntholes who wreck other peoples day by bringing a screaming baby to a restaurant/museum/movie/play/concert/public execution.

 We had a gaggle of little girls sit in front of us, which annoyed me greatly, because I'm a reclusive crab. I sit in a corner of the back row, so no one will sit near me, which drives my wife nuts. She knew these little girls were getting under my skin, so she encouraged me to tell them to sit still and be quiet. You can tell by the fact that I'm not currently in jail that I did not engage these children at all. (I can see the headline: "Big, hulking lunatic tells sweet little girls to shut up!!!") Aside from their constant wiggling and getting up to get more snacks and/or pee, they were pretty well-behaved, and it did my heart good to encounter them again on the sidewalk outside the theater. They were stranding around, talking excitedly about the film, and something one of them said as we walked by caught my attention, so I stopped and pretended to fish around for my car keys as I eavesdropped on them: These little girls were talking, and quite knowledgeably, about the history of Peter and Gwen's comic-book relationship, and the love triangle between Peter, Gwen, and Mary Jane. It was obvious from the 20 or 30 seconds that I heard that they were all pretty well-versed in the comics, and not just the current stuff, either.....One of them name-dropped Steve Ditko, so they must all really know their stuff. I don't know if there are a lot of pre-teen girls that read Super-Hero comics....I kind of doubt it, but even if these girls were a total fluke, it kind of brightened my day to know that at least SOME kids, somewhere, still find joy in the brightly-colored pages of the comic-books.

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