Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (dir. by Marc Webb)


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 One would think The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would be a hit right out of the ballpark. You have a follow up to the highly successful film & one of Marvel’s flagship characters and tons of back story the movie can work with. It’s filmed right in New York – I saw part of the setup at Times Square myself. Perhaps I caught the film at a bad time, or my mindset wasn’t proper, but I had a tough time feeling anything for the film. Perhaps because this is a sequel to a film that rebooted another movie that was only a decade old. Maybe the time has come for Disney/Marvel to knock on Sony’s door and tell them they want their baby back. My only regret is that I didn’t get this review out soon enough to save people from spending money on this. I should have done more.

With Great Power really does come Great Responsibility.

The film picks up some time after the end of the first film and does manage to handle a few story related elements well. Writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Transformers, Star Trek), along with two other writers created a script that connected to the first film. The audience is given some closure when it comes to Peter Parker’s parents and the secrets they were guarding. For long time comic fans, they’ll get a Spider-Man that cracks tons of jokes while taking down the bad guys.

Okay, let’s focus on the good before the bad.

It’s Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s chemistry that keep the moments between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy real. You can tell there’s a good connection between them in any scene they share. You might as well be watching a reality series based on their relationship, really. Additionally, Garfield continues to give Spider-Man all the razor sharp wit he deserves, feeling very much like the comics. Credit also goes out to Sally Field as Aunt May. For a character that is usually in the background, her scenes were the memorable ones – the ones that I’d start a conversation with “Hey, you remember that part when…” Even Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborne was pretty good for the most part, I suppose.

I can’t complain about the way it was shot or the effects that were used. Spider-Man’s swinging is pretty on point, and the in air acrobatics are as cool as they’ve ever were. Some scenes tend to move a little slow – particularly the Gwen / Peter ones – but it helps to establish where they’re going. It’s more or less a necessary evil.

And that’s about it. I don’t really have much else to say on the good elements to this movie. It’s a shame really, because making movies aren’t easy with restrained budgets and producers breathing down your neck to get the product in the theatre.

Now the Bad:

Let’s start with Electro. While I thought the Electro powers were great and all, I had a problem with the reason behind his existence. It’s almost a page taken out of Batman Forever – literally, that was the first movie that came to mind on watching Oscorp technician Max Dillion’s (Jamie Foxx) Spider-Man fandom blossom into jealousy and then hatred. Foxx does what he can with it, and I’ll admit that once he has that Electro-suit on, it’s kind of cool. The argument could be made that because the character meets his hero and is then shunned by him, this causes him to become a villain – as evidenced by the schizophrenia-like voices that accompany Electro’s theme (“He lied to me, They hate me, they’re using me, He’s dead to me.”) during his fights. My reasoning here is that if the character was a fan of Spider-Man, having witnessed him stop all these crimes, wouldn’t it make sense for Spider-Man to try to stop you if you’re inadvertently disturbing the peace? It’s not even like Dillon had a beef with any of the Oscorp workers who may have mistreated him here. I had a serious disconnect with Electro as a character with justifiable motives for his actions. Granted, this is coming from someone who isn’t as familiar with Electro as many who’ve read the comics. It’s altogether possible that he is working within the comic’s defined role, and if that’s the case, many may find it refreshing. It just seemed a little off to me.

DeHaan has similar issues. As Harry Osborn, he’s great. As the Goblin (you’ve been looking at the posters, it’s not exactly a spoiler), I found myself feeling like the only reason he was there was to push a story arc. Imagine someone watching a fight and then suddenly running in and saying “Aha, now you face me!” It was just about the same setup here. The collective theme of the movie seems to be..”You know what? Let’s hate Spider-Man, because we can. We’ll figure out a detailed, legitimate reason later.”

On Paul Giamatti, I would dare to call his appearance a cameo, but it feels tacked on. I thought it would we better to never mention him at all marketing wise and then surprise audiences with where he goes. That’s all I really have to say about him in this.

One other thing was a standout – the music. The music, though a great change from Horner’s Rocketeer sounding score, almost overpowers the film. I was a little shocked to find out that Hans Zimmer worked on it (Along with friends Johnny Marr and Pharrell Williams), but some of the tracks felt phoned in. If you asked me who did the music before showing me the credits, I would have sworn it was maybe Henry Jackman, or maybe Tyler Bates. That isn’t to say that either of them are bad composers, by the way.

Let me put it this way: You could have switched this score out with the one from Despicable Me and I don’t think anyone would have known the difference. I almost put my hands in my face on hearing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” in the middle of a track. Zimmer might as well have just went with his “Point of No Return” score here.

Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was so-so for me. I don’t see myself trying to ever see it again, but depending on what you’re looking for, you may get a different experience from it. I’m hoping that Sony just shelves the Webhead for a while.

Song of the Day: Seioh Gakuen Kouka (by Yui Horie)


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I was told today that one of my favorite anime series of all-time was going to get a new manga adaptation. I am talking about Manabi Straight. It’s from this series that today’s latest song of the day comes from: “Seioh Gakuen Kouka”.

The song was first introduced in the series by it’s main character Manami Amamiya who also goes by the name Manabi. The character’s voice actress is the very talented and popular seiyuu and singer Yui Horie. The song is pretty much the school anthem of the fictitious Seioh High School where Manabi and her high school friends attend. The series goes through the girls’ ups and downs of being high school kids who bond through their love of each other and of their school.

“Seioh Gakuen Kouka” is the school’s anthem and Manabi sings it in front of the entire school during her first day as a transfer student. It’s definitely one of my favorite songs of any genre and type. It brings back my own memories of being a high school student and all the friendships made during those four years.

Seioh Gakuen Kouka

Ima wo ikiru deai no kisetsu yo
Mabushii hikari yume wo atsumete
Onaji seishun ayumu kiseki
Sakura iro no mirai tachi sora wo mau

Aah Seioh yorokobi doko he yo
Aah Seioh manabi no sono ni hibike
Kagayaku toki nakama to tomo ni aru

Ima wo ikiru yorokobi no naka de
Mabushii hikari kaze wo atsumete
Koi to kanashi jounetsu ni
Kibou iro no musume tachi chuu wo mau

Aah Seioh ai no hibi yo
Aah Seioh manabi no sono ni sodate
Kagayaku toki nakama to tomo ni aru

Aah miageta ao wa haruka
Aah tsukau toki kitto kitto
Kagayaku toki nakama to tomo ni aru

Seioh Gakuen Kouka (ver. English)

Live the present moment, the season of encounters.
The bright sunlight, the gathering of dreams.
The miracle where people walk through the same youth.
Cherry-blossom colored futures fly into the sky.

Ah, the cheerful sounds of Seioh!
Ah, let it resonate through Seioh’s garden!
When we shine, we shine with our friends.

Live the present moment, inside this happiness.
The bright sunlight, the gathering of the wind.
The burning love passion with
the hope-colored girls fly into the sky.

Ah, the days of love at Seioh!
Ah, grow up inside Seioh’s garden!
When we shine, we shine with our friends.

Ah, the blue sky we look up to is far away.
Ah, when we get a hold of it, for sure, for sure,
when we shine, we shine with our friends.