Tuesday, May 6, 2014

SPOILER REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

It's a rare occasion that I do a spoiler review for a movie. Usually I like to avoid any chance of me spoiling a movie for someone else, so I just revert to talking to someone in person when I want to talk about the ending. In fact, I've only done two spoiler reviews on this blog -- one for last year's Iron Man 3 and one for this year's Noah. Right when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ending, I knew that a spoiler review was going to happen because the majority of why I liked the movie so much was because of what happened in the end. And these were points that I couldn't just keep to myself. I needed to get them out in a blog post. I chose, however, to wait for a few more days to write this as to give everyone time to go see the movie if they want to. Now that this time has past, it's time to jump in and dissect this movie. Moving on to the next paragraph means that either you have already seen the movie and want to see what I thought about the ending or you simply don't care if the movie is spoiled for you. If it's the latter, you've officially been warned and thus the responsibility of the movie being spoiled is removed from my shoulders and given to you 100 percent.

One of the things that I have appreciated about The Amazing Spider-Man franchise is that it seems more true to the comics in my opinion. Sure, there's the argument that comics often have many different writers, stories, versions, etc., so is there really a set canon? Is it possible to be "more true" to the comics when often the comics aren't even true to themselves? It's a valid point and I'm not going to just skip over it, but generally speaking it seems that Sam Raimi with his Spider-Man trilogy grabbed a bunch of popular Spider-Man characters and did whatever the heck he wanted with it. Compared to the comics, it was very blended. Does that still give it a pass? Well, sure. If an adaption of something is done well, I can still enjoy it despite the changes made. While Spider-Man 3 crashed and burned in a disgustingly awful mess, the first two I still think are good movies. But when The Amazing Spider-Man came out it just enlightened my mind. It felt a lot more like the Spider-Man that I loved as a kid. And it's not that Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 suddenly became awful movies. They just became inferior, much like Edward Norton's version of the Hulk. I liked it. But when Mark Ruffalo took over, suddenly I forgot that Edward Norton's Hulk existed. It became inferior. Same here.

Point I'm trying to make with this? Now that I've fluffed this up enough, I feel it's safe to say. The Amazing Spider-Man went true to the generally accepted comic book version of Spider-Man. At least one of them. The one where Peter Parker dates Gwen Stacy before he dates Mary Jane. As goes the comics, in the midst of a duel between Spider-Man and Green Goblin, Gwen Stacy gets killed. This made me nervous. Why? Because The Amazing Spider-Man cast Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. That movie made me fall in love with Emma Stone. And yet I knew that if they were going to stay true to this comic book, they were going to have to kill her. I did not want this to happen. But I knew it had to. And I was pretty certain that it was going to happen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, especially when Mary Jane was cast in the movie. However, shortly after casting Mary Jane, they cut her out of the movie. This caused me to let my guard down. We have one more movie before Gwen gets killed, I thought. Or perhaps they have seen how popular Emma Stone's character has become that they have decided to just keep her. Hopefully?

Jumping into the movie, a lot of the movie is relationship drama between Peter and Gwen. Sometimes I hate it when a movie spends too much time with relationship drama. Thus was the case with Peter Parker and Mary Jane in the Sam Raimi trilogy. This time, though, I liked it. Why? Throughout the movie, Peter keeps getting haunted by Gwen's father. At the end of the first, her father's dying wish to Peter was for Peter to keep Gwen out of this. He struggled with this at the end of the movie, but decided to go ahead with it anyways. Some would've preferred this to be the end of the drama and for everything to be hunky-dory. To me this is unrealistic. If something like this happened in real life, it would be normal for things to be constantly going up and down. It was especially important here because we all knew that Gwen was supposed to be killed off. Thus the drama to me was interesting. Is Peter going to risk Gwen's life so he can be with her? Or is he going to cut ties with her for good in order to potentially save her life? Not knowing the end from the beginning, this may be a bit cliche and boring, but knowing the end makes this intense. As Gwen is going off to London, you are sad because they are splitting up but happy because it means she may survive for longer. But then Peter made the decision to stay with her and you jump for joy because they are together, but you freak out because you know this means she is in trouble. Thus all the romantic drama kept my undivided attention.

And now we move to the final battle. Electro. Peter has made the decision to stay with Gwen and follow her to London when suddenly all the power goes out. Electro has been freed by Harry Osborn (we'll get to him in a bit) and now Peter must stop him. But he doesn't know how. And this is where Gwen once again proves that she is the best superhero girlfriend ever. She is the one that helps Peter figure out a way to stop Electro. That is boss. Sure, Peter was the one who jumped in the Spider-Man outfit and defeated Electron, but Gwen was the brains behind the whole thing. And actually, at the end of the battle, Gwen's direct actions is what made Electro explode. She beat Electro. You don't get that very often. And that is why I love her. Quickly on Electro before I continue with more important things, is he the most important character in this movie? No. Could he have been completely cut out? Absolutely not. I loved his character arch. I loved Jaime Foxx' acting. I thought he was a really awesome villain, both in terms of how looked and how he fought. Him versus Spider-Man was fun to watch and the movie would've been empty without him because you know that Green Goblin is more of a teaser for future movies.

Moving on, up to this point I still was fully convinced that Gwen's time was not up. Her and Peter had just teamed up to beat Electro and I thought perhaps that's where they were going to end. Harry had messed himself up pretty badly, but I still felt he was going to come into play later. Then all of sudden he showed up in between both of them all decked out as Green Goblin. This is where I froze in terror. I was not ready for this to happen, but yet I knew it was going to happen. Gwen was going to die. Suddenly I shriveled up in my seat and the rest of the movie was like a horror movie for me.

But let's pause. I need to talk about Harry Osborn. We'll continue this in a bit.

The Harry Osborn in this is a very different Harry Osborn than the Sam Raimi Harry played by James Franco. He's a troubled Harry with a dark past. You can tell he's had this built up emotions from an awful relationship with his father Norman. To make matters worse, right before Norman dies of this terrible disease, he tells Harry that he has the same disease because it is hereditary. Throughout the movie you see matters go from bad to worse and he breaks when Spider-Man refuses to help him. Harry had believed Spider-Man's blood could cure him, but Peter didn't want to take that risk. To me it's a much more believable transformation to the Green Goblin than in the Sam Raimi films. Not only is it written well, but Dane DeHaan blew the performance out of the park. James Franco did a good job as the Green Goblin in those older films, but how it was written felt a bit forced. It hinged on Franco being butt-hurt that Spider-Man killed his dad. He didn't even allow an explanation. Then suddenly after a long time with a good past and good history, he's a villain. But only for like part of the third movie before he comes back again on Peter's side. It didn't work for me.

Now back to the point where Green Goblin shows up between Gwen and Peter. I loved his reaction. When James Franco learned that Peter was Spider-Man, he was blind-sided and didn't know what to do because he didn't want to hurt his best friend but he wanted his revenge on Spider-Man. This time around, the reaction was opposite. When Harry made the connection, he didn't feel remorse. All he felt was extreme hatred and betrayal. And he acted immediately by killing Gwen. I think that was very well written and not only made for an extremely tense ending, but it also sets up for a great rivalry in the next couple of films. I hear a lot of people complaining that he was "shoe-horned" into the movie just like Venom in Spider-Man 3. I don't understand this at all. They spent half the movie building up Harry's story line. And while there wasn't much face-to-face combat time between him and Peter, we all know that he as the villain is going to play a huge role in the next couple of films. Poor comparison.

Now to the death of Gwen. Like I mentioned, I knew this was going to happen in this movie, but then I talked myself out of it. I didn't even catch the build-up, so when Harry showed up it was a complete shock to me. I was planning on preparing myself emotionally and mentally for this time, but when it did happen suddenly, I wasn't prepared. Thus I feel I had a huge part of me ripped out with no warning. It was devastating. I feel I still am trying to recover from this. I fell in love with this girl when Spider-Man fell in love with her and now that she is gone, I feel just as broken up as he did. It was an emotional ending for me as Peter stood at Gwen's grave and listened to her speech again. When a movie pulls at all my emotional strings like this, it deserves a ton of credit. Yes, I liked Electro. Yes, I liked Harry's story. Yes, there were a lot of things in the movie that I loved. But all of that pales in comparison to Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. A lot of people hated this movie and we call argue all the Spider-Man semantics in this movie all day long, but when push comes to shove, none of that matters. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone did so good and had such great chemistry that they could've single-handedly carried this movie on their shoulders and I would've still loved it. That's how well they did. And because of them alone and the emotional rollercoaster that I went on as she slipped through Peter's fingers and died is why I consider this the best Spider-Man movie yet. And I don't think the others are going to top it. Why? No Gwen.

This leads to my final point. I think the writers of this did the right thing. They made the perfect Spider-Man movie. But it's an odd paradox. Because they did it so well, I am nervous about the future of this franchise. Why? They have to replace the best superhero girlfriend in movie history. Mary Jane has to come into the picture now. Can they equal the perfect chemistry that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone had? They are going to have to go about this very carefully. I'm also nervous that they might bring Shailene Woodley back. She was cast as Mary Jane before they cut Mary Jane out. Shailene Woodley is not Emma Stone. Shailene Woodley will never be Emma Stone. I don't believe that Shainele Woodley can pull off what this franchise needs Mary Jane to pull off to make me happy. Now Sony already has a third and a fourth movie on the schedule, so they have two movies to get this right. First, they need to cast someone besides Shailene Woodley. Second, they need that person to be the perfect Mary Jane -- someone who has equal chemistry with Andrew Garfield. Third, since they do have two movies to get it right, they need to avoid the romance in the third movie and just establish a friendship. I hope they can do it. But I am really nervous.

Oh yeah. Sinister Six. They are totally setting up for that. It's not even a secret anymore. Wondering why Rhino happened? Sinister Six. We have Green Goblin and the man who I think is Mysterio organizing it at the end of this. We have Doc Oc and Vulture suits shown. Rhino starts it out. Lizard will be back. Despite getting killed off, the actor for Norman Osborn signed on for two more movies. Maybe Electro gets brought back? Who knows. But this is happening. And I want to be excited. But none of it really matters if they get Mary Jane wrong. No pressure...

What's up with them showing a clip from X-Men: Days of Future Past in the credits? It was cool, but I'm confused. I've never seen a different movie franchise advertised in the end credits of a movie. I know they are both Marvel, but X-Men is Fox and Spider-Man is Sony. Are they teasing a potential cross-over between X-Men and Spider-Man? Is Sony and Fox actually working this out? And if this happens, does that mean Wolverine and Spider-Man can finally be a part of the Avengers? What's the deal? Thoughts to this would be greatly appreciated because I have no idea why that scene happened.

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