Move Review – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014): What’s Good

Amazing Spider-Man in Taiwan

In Taiwan, the film is titled 蜘蛛人惊奇再起 2: 电光之战 (literally: The Amazing Spider-Man Returns: Electric Battle)

What’s Good

Spoiler Alert: Yellow

First and foremost, as a superhero action movie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 delivers. It’s a fun audio-visual party with is mix of action, effects, sound, and creative use of space. There are four or five key action sequences (depending on if you count the last one as two separate sequences) and when Spidey is involved, there’s a good mix of quick action and imaginative use of his powers.

Although I did not see the film in 3D, it’s obvious that this sensibility was used by director Mark Webb (no pun surely intended.) The world of Spider-Man naturally lends itself to this, as the character swoops among the buildings, using the z-axis almost as much as the x and y. This is what makes the action exciting, too, as the production (largely headed by Sony Pictures Imageworks) can take advantage of characters in animation in a 3D space, resulting in genuinely exciting action that you won’t see in any other kind of movie. As one example, the film shows us Spider-Man’s use of his spider-sense when the Electro’s powers threaten a crowd of fleeing bystanders; “time” slows to a standstill and the camera weaves in and out of the people and up and down some stairs before returning to Spider-Man and playing out the scene. In the most significant scene, the climax taking place in the long neck of a clock tower, the 3D I’m sure adds to the depth of field and thus heightens the tension and so serves an important storytelling moment. Of course, there are more examples of the egregious kind, like an electric eel flying out to the audience, which just serves the “jump atcha” factor and little else.

I usually don’t notice music or soundtrack during a show, and it’s probably an overlooked but critical part of any filmmaking. It’s a kind of unconscious praise when the soundtrack/sound editing is good, because it’s not meant to draw attention to it. I’ve been trying to train myself to be more conscious of it, and I remember remarking to myself that the music and sounds are nice. There’s nice, swelling, epic music appropriate for superhero film, and a kind of motif for specific characters, and there’s even appropriately catchy, upbeat music for various motages.

The designs overall are quite nice, too, with visuals for Electro and the Green Goblin that are genuinely creepy and cinematic. The Rhino’s costume/body armor does so, too, but takes it a bit too far, and loses the sense of being a comicbook movie. (That said, if you are waiting around to see a giant throw-down between him and Spidey, you’ll be disappointed. That conflict is barely more than a “montage clip.”) However, all the other design choices a passable, at best. Peter Parker in his civilian outfits are “normal” to the point of being indistinct, as is Gwen Stacy, who is the only one dressing for work at OsCorp like it’s Casual Friday everyday. And, while Harry Osborn is offered a bit more style and thus makes a clear contrast when he shares screentime with Peter, it doesn’t serve the story purpose when they are visually disconnected when they try to verbally connect.

Well, as you can see, my review is starting to devolve into only mixed praise. In the next post, “What’s Bad”, I’ll jump right in with all the negatives. Because, frankly, the actual story of the movie is a bit of a mess.