Friday, May 2, 2014

Spiderman 2: Maybe Not Amazing, but Still Pretty Good

Photo: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures

 MOVIE REVIEW 

With so many superhero movies seemingly coming out each month, it is a real chore keeping up with who’s who. To make one superhero stand out from another, Hollywood has to concentrate on character development and surprisingly, they do it pretty well. Spiderman could be “just another hero,” but Columbia and Marvel keeps the Andrew Garfield version closer to its roots. Unlike the cultured Bruce Wayne/Batman or the tough-guy moodiness of the James Logan/Wolverine, this Peter Parker’s Spiderman is more like Spiderboy. He’s an awkward teen still trying to make sense of adulthood, making him more relatable and likeable. He lives with his aunt, keeps his room a mess and is sometimes a little too confident in his own abilities. Just an average teenage boy…who can crawl on ceilings.

Simply titled, TheAmazing Spiderman 2, the sequel is a nice companion to the 2012 film and in some ways outshines it. It surprisingly is lot less cluttered than many had feared given the higher count of villains and storylines. Peter (Garfield) and girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) are graduating from high school (but look like they should be graduating from college) and the two struggle with their “complicated” relationship. Peter sees “ghosts” of Emma’s father who pleaded with him to not drag his daughter into the crime-fighting spotlight as he worried for her safety. Peter wants the relationship, but he wants to honor her father as well. It’s refreshing to see a superhero struggle with being a man of his word.
Peter also struggles wanting to know more about his parents, mostly his father, and why the couple abandoned him at such a young age. He begs his aunt May (Sally Field) to tell him the truth. In one scene in particular, the acting between the two is some of the best I’ve ever seen in a comic book movie.

Then there is the struggle with his recently resurfaced childhood friend and rich kid Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan). Harry is son or Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper), the ailing CEO of OsCorp, a company known for its secret biogenetic projects, the place where his father worked and conveniently is where Gwen is interning. Harry is dying and learns that a sample of Spiderman’s blood might be all he needs to survive. Of course, it could lead to some other dangers as well.

Finally, Peter has to struggle with the new enemy in the form of Electro (Jamie Foxx) who was a former bitter and bullied OsCorp employee. As Electro, the villain is pretty one-note, but as the former Max Dillon, Foxx is a lot more fun to watch. In an earlier scene, Spiderman comes to Dillon’s aid in a simple gesture of kindness. However, Spidey makes the mistake of placating the man by telling him what he wants to hear. Spidey tells the man that he is Spidey’s “eyes and ears” and that he is important to him. Ironically, Parker makes the same mistake that many Christians do to others in the church. To make Dillon feel good about himself, Parker essentially lies to him by giving him flowery compliments. Later, when it becomes obvious that Parker/Spiderman doesn’t really know who Dillon is, let alone considers him a friend, Dillon sees Spiderman as just another person who doesn’t value him and a target for revenge.

Spiderman 2 has a different tone of other Marvel movies, and that might be because this franchise is not owned by Disney who owns Ironman, Thor, The Avengers and others. In fact, moviegoers have been so conditioned to stay after the credits of each Marvel movie for an extra scene. Those who stay behind during this one will be disappointed.

Overall, Spiderman 2 is great fun, but doesn’t completely hit the mark as some of the storylines sort of fizzle out instead of having a definite ending. For instance, Aunt May has taken a job at the local hospital, but doesn’t tell Peter because she doesn’t want him to worry. You would think that this would tie into the story somehow, but it doesn’t. So why put it in?

The movie may be a little too intense for young fans, but if your little one can’t stand it, rest assured that they will witness a hero worth rooting for. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to share an anti-bullying message with them as well.

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