Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Amazing Spider-Man 2: Villains Everywhere

Amazing Spider-Man 2 is visually stunning, at least it is in 3-D. Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker is the funniest, wise-cracking Spider-Man to date.  The movie does hold your attention with its use of special effects.  Lines and characters are often over-the-top in just the right way.  And if you sense there is a "but" coming in my review, you're right...

The plot of Amazing Spider-Man 2 is kind of a mess.  The actual through story line is more about the romance between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and less about being driven by the villains, and there are more than a couple, villains.  For some inexplicable reason, Hollywood has decided that at some point, particularly in the Batman and Spider-Man franchises, the hero needs to face off against as many villains as they can shove into a movie.  Most of the time, it doesn't work.  

Take for example both of the more recent Batman series.  The best in both series have a single major villain, The Joker.  The least in both Batman series has two or three villains or more villains that make an appearance.  This combination of too many villains (Sandman, Goblin, Venom and the Venom/Spider-Man combo) in the first Spider-Man franchise probably contributed to its demise.  The problem with too many villains is they tend to get in the way of each other's plot lines.

The same is true for Amazing Spider-Man 2.  There are simply too many bad guys and too many minor story lines.  While the audience is dealing with the difficulties of Gwen and Peter, we don't really have enough screen time left for the other subplot lines that director Marc Webb tries to develop.  There is the story line of the sympathetic and somewhat psychotic, Max Dillon (Jamie Fox), who becomes Electro.  There is the story line of Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan), the lost and badly treated son of Norman Osborne (Chris Cooper) who we barely meet.  There is the story line of Harry and Peter whose friendship is extremely important to the story line of the Green Goblin (DeHaan).  There are the story lines Peter's Parents, Mary and Richard Parker (Embeth Davidtz and Cambell Scott) and their tragic murders and subsequent character assassination by Oscorp.  There is the evil corporate executive, Donald Menken (Colm Feore).  There is the story of Peter's relationship with Aunt May (Sally Fields) There is the "man in the shadows" now identified as Gustav Fliers (Michael Massee) and his strange connection as the sinister voice at the end of Amazing Spider-Man 1 and again at the end of Amazing Spider-Man 2 and possibly as the assassin of Mary and Richard.  Finally there is the book end appearance of the villain Rhino/Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti). Get the point? Too many plots and villains and so we don't really get time to feel for any of them.  

The central bad guy is Electro.  The effects and battles are spectacular as is the constant banter and crowd interaction by Spider-Man which is fun and humorous.  (Possible Spoiler) The love story, which for fans follows the same outcome as it did in the original comics, is damaged by the over-abundance of mini-story lines and villains.  

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is fun and worth the watch, but it is not as tightly knit as the first movie.  It suffers as many of the comic book movies do from that dreaded disease villainititus.