Monday, May 5, 2014


As is true of all art - both high and popular (a distinction I loathe, by the way), people are going to have different opinions and I'm not interested in proving to anyone that I'm "right" or that someone else is "wrong" about this movie. But I didn't like Amazing Spider-Man 2 and I needed some time to really figure out why. What made Amazing 2 so bad for me - and make no mistake, I think this movie is bad - is that the writers and director (Marc Webb, who helmed the first movie in the reboot) could never decide in what direction that wanted to travel - is it a broad, really "comicy" comic-book movie? Is it a tender exploration of love and commitment? Is it some sort of industrial spy thriller? - so it wound up not going anywhere and taking two-plus hours to not do so.

In fact, there are several scenes that come soclose to working - and I can't say more for fear of spoiling, although why you'd pay $10 or so to go see this is beyond me - that it's depressing when the scenes lurch into completely unworkable territory and then linger like the last party guest who can't take a hint even though you're running the dishwasher. There are plot holes that are just unforgivable and they're made worse by the fact that a line - a single line of dialogue could've explained them. (Example - if Harry was sent to boarding school at age 11 with no mention made of keeping up with Peter, they sure are bestest friends. And if they did keep up, why is it Harry doesn't know anything about Gwen?) Also, there's just some sloppy storytelling - Peter hangs out at that cemetery long enough for the leaves on the trees to go through all four New York seasons, yet the newscaster tells us only five months have passed. And that's nothing compared to how, by the end of the movie, Oscorp - a publicly-traded (there's a mention or two of concerns about how the stock price will be affected), multi-billion dollar enterprise is being run by someone who is clearly clinically insane, yet no one seems to mind.

My other main objection to Amazing has to do with apologists. Look, I'm a big believer that a good movie is a good movie. Period. Full stop. It's not a genre thing, although those categories are useful shorthand, but a good Western/scifi/romance/thriller/whatever needs to be a good movie first and foremost. Maybe the film has an added burden of working within the restrictions of that chosen genre (a musical needs songs, you know), but at its heart the question is always - is this a good movie? For my money - and going to the movies these days is a financial commitment - both Captain America movies are solid movies. Not solid "superhero movies," mind you; solid movies that work within their genre, but also work outside of it. On the other hand, Amazing winds up being the sort of film that even has fans of the superhero genre scratching their heads a little and then saying things like, "Well, it's a comic movie, so they're going for that sort of feel and you have to understand that." Fine by me, but then go for it. Shove your chips into the middle of the table and really go all in. Webb didn't and the movie suffers as a result.

I could go on, but really - there's no point. I like Spidey. I like the cheesy animated series of my childhood and I think one of the most gut-wrenching tributes to the horrors of 9/11 is contained in J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr.'s Amazing Spider-Man #36. "Frost," the story told more recently in Amazing 700.1, is a thoughtful piece of storytelling. And some neat things are happening in the Ultimate universe with Miles Morales wearing the suit.

Go read any of those. Skip this.

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