Surely we’re not seeing the evolution of the superhero movie, are we?
ABOUT THE FILM
When the gritty cinematic versions of Batman came along, they were popular for several reasons – among them: they were different.
Now, already this year, we have had two more different takes on the traditional heroic tales.
And there might be another variant loaded up this summer.
Earlier this year came “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (a 7). Aside from a guy with a groovy shield, the film was actually a throwback to 1970s-ish espionage pictures.
Now comes “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” and it’s a straight-up chick flick – well, with a guy who can shoot electricity through his fingers and a dude in a metallic Rhino suit.
But mainly it’s a chick flick, a costumed “Twilight.”
The late-summer movie that’s going a different route as well is “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Aug. 1). This film will either cement Marvel as the new Pixar, or it’s gonna end the comic-maker’s exceptional winning streak.
With this new Spider-Man, it’s clear that superhero movies are still in the financial wheelhouse of young kids and fanboys.
It opened huge – both here in the U.S. and internationally. The Movie Man wasn’t blown away by the first “Amazing Spider-Man” (2012, a 6). But it did well in America with $262 million and was monstrous overseas where it took in $490 million more.
Its total take of $752 million places it No. 53 on the all-time biggest-moneymaker list.
“Amazing Spider-Man 2” is off to the expected gigantic start. That’s not a surprise. The Movie Man slotted it at No. 4 on last week’s 2014 Summer Top 10 prediction list.
Not bad for a chick flick.
Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) is settled into his role as a hero.
He almost misses his high school graduation – much to the dismay of his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) – because he’s off trying to stop a crazy guy in a truck, the future Rhino (Paul Giamatti).
Garfield makes it, and grabs his diploma. However, he keeps seeing Stone’s dead father, Police Chief Stacy (Denis Leary), who made Garfield promise to stay away from Stone.
Torn, the lovey-dovey duo break up.
When Garfield hears his old friend Harry’s (Dane DeHaan) dad has died, he pays him a visit.
Meanwhile, mild-mannered Spidey fan Max (Jamie Foxx) gets shocked then tumbles into a vat of souped-up fluid filled with electric eels. He comes out the super-charged Electro, a guy who can absorb and control electricity.
DeHaan goes crazy when he gets injected with a serum that turns him into the Green Goblin.
He’s out to get Spider-Man. So is Electro; the two bad guys team up.
Spunky Stone helps Garfield fight the two bad guys. That works out really well – against one of them.
But not so great against the other. Garfield, who has dealt with the mysterious disappearance of his parents his entire life, now has another issue to deal with.
Garfield has the angsty part of Spider-Man down pat. It’s stretching it a bit to believe he could pull off all the athletic feats the superhero does, but he is radioactive spider-infused.
Stone is a future movie star. She’s great onscreen and easy to root for.
The other standout is Sally Field as Aunt May, who raised Garfield (see best scene). She’s still a real movie star.
The special effects are good throughout, and director Marc Webb utilizes the 3-D process enough that it’s recommended. (There’s one really cool shot with Garfield shooting his web through the tumbling sections of a giant clock falling apart.)
Another great set piece is a chaotic scene of Spidey and Electro battling in Times Square. The bad guy has electrified the area – including a metal handrail people are reaching for as they flee. Spidey – in super slo-mo – sizes up the situation, sees what needs to be done, and does it. It’s very cool.
It’s also nice to have a superhero wisecracking again. As a teenager, that’s Peter Parker’s forte. There are a slew of witty bons mots in this movie.
DeHaan’s transformation into the Green Goblin is a cool homage to “An American Werewolf in London.”
The stinger – an extra scene during end credits – is very weird.
Aunt May sees her “son” is in distress about his parents’ disappearance.
Field tells her side of what it’s like to be alone and on your own. After all, her husband, Uncle Ben, recently died.
It’s a surprisingly effective scene, and Field is just incredible in it.
She tells Garfield that eventually you just have to put some things away – just like she is doing. Field is awesome.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
After the movie opens with two back-to-back action sequences, there’s a l-o-o-o-n-g stretch of character exposition. This is the chick flick section.
The Movie Man has no problem with chick flicks, but it’s a huge chunk of the early to middle part of the picture and enough quickly gets to be enough.
Speaking of length, two hours and two minutes is really long sometimes, and this feels like one of those times. “Spidey 2” goes on and on with more endings than “The Return of the King” (2003, an 8).
It should be noted, however, that it’s the terrific final 15 minutes that convinced the Movie Man to bump the movie from a 6 to a 7. They’re really good.
If you’re a Green Goblin fan, you’ll be disappointed since he’s not in it that much. The same can be said for Rhino. (But that might change in “Amazing Spider-Man 3” judging from 2’s ending and the fact that rumors about the third movie concern the web-slinger facing off against the Sinister Six of which Rhino is a member.)
There’s nary a cuss word here. “Spidey 2” gets its rating for comic book violence. It’s a generic PG-13.
This might just be the first superhero date movie. Keep tissues handy.
“Neighbors,” the first of several summer comedies arrives.
The Movie Man, in his daring Top 10 predictions, didn’t pick “Neighbors;” he had it in the “possible breakthroughs” category.
Perhaps the Movie Man is selling Seth Rogen short. It’s traditional, low-brow R-rated comedy, full of body fluids, bad language, drug use and nudity throughout.
These are not the sort of movies the Movie Man usually goes for, but he always gives each film a shot.