Monday, 12 May 2014

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 - Review By Greg Klymkiw - The Spidey Reboot Cash-Grab Strikes Back Again

Lovers Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone)
share a chuckle over not requiring much genetic Oscorp shenanigans
to transform them into a spider monkey and pekinese respectively
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) *1/2
Dir. Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Colm Feore, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Paul Giamatti

Review By Greg Klymkiw

I expected the worst and got the almost-watchable. In this day and age, that's something resembling a blessing with the cacophony blaring from multiplexes across the world, thanks to a seemingly endless parade of comic book movies. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying this shamelessly unnecessary cash-grab reboot, so soon after Sam Raimi's iconic trilogy, is something that pleases me, but it's a smidgen better than its immediate predecessor and has a few meagre offerings to keep one from slashing one's wrists.

This is basically the mushed-together take on the Marvel Comics' "The Death of Gwen Stacy" (Emma Stone) story arc that shoehorns itself into the picture with the addition of two new villains to the silver screen (Jamie Foxx's Electro and Paul Giamatti's The Rhino) and dabbles with the Spiderman/Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Harry Osborn/Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) friendship/rivalry. Given that most of these woeful comic book adaptations feel like grocery lists, allow me to respond in kind.

On the plus-side:

- Marc Webb's direction seems a pubic-hair more sure-footed than the last outing. He directs one of the major action set pieces with a great deal of skill (Electro's first showdown with Spidey in Times Square), holds back on indulging himself in a ridiculous number of music video-style montages (which, in the last picture made me want to punch someone in the face) and whilst not displaying (save for the horrendous music-vid habit) a discernible voice as a filmmaker, he appears to have all the makings of a hack (hinted at in ASM 1). All that said, maybe that one action sequence was directed by second-unit dudes.

- Jamie Foxx is a terrific villain in the grand tradition of this comic book. In his pre-villainous stages as the cretinous computer geek engineer who is mercilessly exploited by the evil Oscorp assholes, he elicits a modicum of sympathy. Foxx also brings any number of subtle, intelligent hints at bearing an obsessive psychopathy mixed with the easily-manipulated traits of geekery prior to his transformation into Electro - shadings of character that will fit very nicely once he's terrorizing the Big Apple.

- Paul Giamatti is hilarious as The Rhino. Alas, I miss the notion of this character looking more like a real rhinoceros (albeit upright on two legs) than a high-tech robotic incarnation.

On the down side:

- The entire affair continues to be lacking in anything resembling necessity, other than yielding huge grosses.

- Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy is starting to lose what little appeal she held in ASM 1. Seeing her in the role last time out had some novelty appeal, but here, her character is saddled with a few too many whiney "I've got to find myself" traits which she only redeems when she proves to be an invaluable ally to Spidey and is sacrificed to his crime-fighting efforts. Worst of all, her makeup and hair handlers have somehow accentuated her Pekinese qualities which would be fine if she literally transformed into one, but as she doesn't, it's more than a tad boner-deflating (unless one's a practitioner of zoophilia).

- Andrew Garfield is still a woeful Peter Parker. I find it almost impossible to look at him. He's quite repulsive with an annoying hedgehog tuft of hair upon his oversized gourd-like cranium, further accoutred with a thin, misshapen long face that's seemingly being winched to ground level, then topped off with weasel-like eyes, crooked smirk and shrivelled proboscis with its perpetually upturned tip, all of which result in a seemingly irremovable sneer. I won't even get started on his spindly Ichabod-Crane-like body. Feel free to discover that all on your lonesome. Upchuck with abandon.

- The movie is 142 minutes long. There's no apparent reason for this save for ineptitude on the part of the filmmakers not realizing that the entire narrative, such as it is, had a lot of excisable material.

- Like ASM 1, the movie is sans snarling newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson. Considering how much time is wasted on longueurs, it's an egregious omission if there ever was one.

- The entire buried flashback plot involving Parker's Dad (Campbell Scott) is ultimately way more interesting than anything else in the movie and seems to demand its own movie.

- Sally Field wants us to really, really like her, but we just want to really, really slam her face against a water fountain. Repeatedly, 'natch!

- The film's attempts at humour are forced, not funny and furthered in vomitous qualities due to Garfield's horrendously pinched vocal range - especially when he's tossing off the one-liners.

There you have it, smart shoppers, the ultimate critical grocery list representing this relatively useless comic book movie with useless leads, terrific villains, hack direction and too many dull stretches that were entirely avoidable.

If this all sounds like your trough of slop, knock yourself out.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is in every multiplex all over the world.

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