Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Case for More Amazingness

The Amazing Spiderman 2: The Rise of Electro is actually a better movie than it deserves to be, if that makes sense.

Because the story and everything that goes on is pretty standard and very slow.  It starts off terribly, with a rather pointless scene showing the death of Peter Parker’s parents that goes on for far too long and really adds nothing to the story whatsoever, or at least nothing that couldn’t be explained in a two second flashback or something.

Things don’t really improve when we go into Jamie Fox’s character Max, before his becoming the superbaddy Electro.  His origin story is that he is a lot of a loser who gains extraordinary electrical powers once he is electrocuted.  It seems pointless providing him with a backstory that shows he is normally a bit unhinged when his erratic behaviour after his accident can be explained by the fact he is zapped by a gazillion volts, basically dies, and then returns as pure energy that can discorporate at will and then reintegrate again, bringing clothing and electronic devices surgically attached to what passes for his corporal skin along with him.  For some reason.

And then there is Martin Csokas, who seems to have stepped straight out of the Rocky Horror version of Captain America, all glossy lips and high camp evil German scientist.  Amusing, in a completely incongruous way.

But it is better than all this, even with its excessive running time, thanks to the amazing main (and young) cast.  Returning are Andrew Garflied and Emma Stone as Spiderman / Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey, and its their chemistry as a couple that actually keeps the film ticking along and interesting.  Gwen is also not a boring heroine, but is smart and determined and (thanks to Stone) has an incredible spark whenever she is on screen.  Parker is less interesting on his own, Garfield mumbling and stuttering and being all goofy when in his normal, everyday, huge haired persona, and then being all wise cracky and attempted cool (not sure how successfully there) as the webslinger. 

Joining them is the amazing Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn reborn, and while his motivations are a little unconvincing at times (and his final scenes seem to make no sense whatsoever), his pale eyes and severe haircut paint him as a man living on the edge from the get go, a boy betrayed and not above seeking revenge.

Quite what Electro’s powers are, or how the Green Goblin comes to be, or quite what all the secrecy around the Parker parents death was all about is never really clear or makes a huge amount of sense.  But the set pieces and action are all suitably spectacular and, for the most part, comprehensible to the average viewer.  

The film is evidently skewed towards a younger demographic, and it’s a bit refreshing to see a hero movie where the heroes and villains are not all pumped up and waxed with an obligatory shirtless scene to show off the steroids at work (everyone is fit, just not exploding with veins and eight pack abs).  And with the leads so comfortable with each other and so convincing with the love story, its easy to let yourself be carried along with all the Spidey action.  And I love the use of the ring tone…

Verdict: Amazing Spiderman 2: the Rise of Electro is not an amazing movie, but is a good one.  Superhero films are always a bit long these days, but it survives thanks to the charisma and talent of the leads.  But can the next movies keep that up?  7 spidey masks out of 10.

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