May 05, 2014

Podcast Episode 13: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 Swings Straight Into A Brick Wall (Literally)

"I AM THE RHINO!"
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 might not be as muddled and incoherent as its predecessor, but at least it's a lot more boring and silly.

That's a real shame, because I can't shake the feeling that there really is a very good Spider-Man film trapped underneath an imposing mountain of stupid.  The chemistry continues to crackle between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone and is the closest thing to a grounding force this franchise has going for it.  While his Peter Parker remains far too mopey and not nearly smart enough (he literally looks up YouTube videos to learn how batteries work), Garfield totally kills as Spider-Man, bringing an infectious sense of energy and joy to the screen whenever he dons the mask.  Tobey Maguire always made the web-slinging feel like a burden, whereas Garfield truly comes alive when he's facing down baddies and tossing off clever one-liners.  Webb really nails most of the action beats too; the opening chase/fight scene featuring Paul Giamatti's inexplicably cartoonish Russian gangster is absolutely magnificent to behold in IMAX 3D and from a purely visual standpoint, Jamie Foxx's Electro makes for a really cool and dynamic physical threat to Spider-Man.

Unfortunately the story remains dull and bloated, clocking in at over 2 hours and 20 minutes yet still leaving you feeling as if nothing much actually happened.  Electro isn't really a developed character with clear motivations and a plan of action so much as he is a walking special effect designed to make the trailers more exciting.  In fact, if Electro had simply been a autonomous robot or a natural phenomena, there would have been almost no impact to the way the plot unfolded.  Meanwhile Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who by all rights should have been the misunderstood victim turned ruthless criminal mastermind, comes off as little more than an afterthought, an aimless dick who exists solely to literally swoop in at the eleventh hour and act as the mechanism for the latest overly foreshadowed tragedy in Peter Parker's life.  Say what you want about The Lizard, but at least that guy had an evil plan that needed stopping.  And don't even get me started on the unmistakable streak of absurd silliness running through the whole movie.  Bad puns and mustache twirling are the order of the day if you're a Spider-Man villain; Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze would be right at home here.  If nothing else, I'm now outright terrified at the prospect of the upcoming Sinister Six film, which now feels destined to be nigh unwatchable.  If you think I'm exaggerating, just know that at one point Electro tries to kill Spider-Man via nursery rhyme.

The latest episode of the podcast goes into all that and a whole lot more spoilery detail, so I don't recommend listening before you've seen the movie.  I suspect that many of you have already subjected yourself to this nonsense however, so tune in and perhaps find a bit of catharsis.  We also chat about the Star Wars casting and the bizarre announcement of a Beverly Hills Cop "reboot".


(Point Of Order: In my excitement to make Ronny Cox joke, I mistakenly identify his BHC character as "Andrew Bogota" instead of the correct "Andrew Bogomil."  I also realize that I fudged the details of the famous Gwen Stacy scene from the comics, but I wasn't able to cut around it.  My bad.)