The Amazing Spider-Man 2, 2014
dir. Marc Webb
[WARNING: THERE MIGHT BE SPOILERS AHEAD SO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK]
If I could choose only one word to describe this film, it would be “entertaining”. It was indeed incredibly entertaining, for a two-hour movie about Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield was decent as Peter Parker (I still think he is better at it than Tobey Maguire, sorry Sam Raimi fans), Emma Stone is a great Gwen Stacy, Dane DeHaan is a Harry I can finally get behind. There is no lame love triangle or overly complicated romantic plots that are supposed to “add another layer” to the film’s narrative, which I found both refreshing and charming. It’s just a superhero movie with lots of fights, lots of villains, lots of “plot twists” (all of which are terribly predictable, especially if you’ve seen the trailer), a bit of drama, and trademark sass from our spidey hero.
All in all, it was a fine film. If you manage to ignore the obscene amount of product placement brought to you by Sony, that is (because it’s not enough that the film was rebooted only because they didn’t want to give up the rights to Spider-Man — no, they also had to shove a Sony Vaio or a Sony Ericsson in every scene).
There is one problem with this film which is the sheer amount of shaky cam shots. Headache inducing shaky cams during fight sequences, or the dramatic opening sequence with Peter’s parents. It’s not Michael Bay levels of badness, but it’s still quite disconcerting, and the film would have been a lot better visually without it.
However, I do have to congratulate this on one thing: not taking itself TOO seriously. Sometimes superhero films can do that (talking to you DC Comics), but it’s great that Marvel is bringing in these “unlikely” directors for their projects because they have a new sort of fresh perspective which is quite nice to experience. In the first instalment of the Spider-Man reboot, it did still feel a bit stilted, like the studio was holding the strings, and in this it seems like Marc Webb held the reigns more tightly and took over a bit, and his directorial style is really good, even if it’s not entirely applicable to superhero films such as this. There are a lot of little Spider-Man jokes spread throughout the film, that you pick up on even if you are just slightly familiar with him, like the theme song (Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can). It was really cute, and something that brought a bit of comedy to a film that is much darker than its predecessor.
Still, what was most enjoyable about this film (as it usually is with anything Webb does, given his background) was the music. One of the main villains was Jamie Foxx’s Electro aka Max Dillon. And during the battle scenes that involved him, or any scene where he was present, dubstep was heavily featured. Now, that is not a music (inverted commas?) genre that is particularly appealing to me at all, but it worked really well in this environment, especially the way it was used. Not too much where it became annoying, but just at the right times to create the proper amount of tension and excitement. The music became part of the film instead of something that takes the audience out of it (as it happens sometimes, unfortunately), which is probably the benefit of having a director with a heavy background in music videos. Webb knows how to work the music in the scenes, to make it look smooth and seamless, and in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, that was the most entertaining part.
Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was an enjoyable watch. It did make references to the comics, which will appeal to the fans, but also stood alone very well as its own film, since it had exposition enough that even the previous one can be done without (sometimes a little too much exposition, even). I think they could have used Dane DeHaan a lot more, since he is a truly fine actor, but I’m hoping they will work on that on the next one.
If you’d like to be thoroughly entertained, to take your mind off the problems of the world, if you are bored and have nothing else on, this is a good thing to do. It’s a good if formulaic superhero film, but that’s not bad is it?