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My Love/Hate Relationship with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”


David Ives - published on 05/02/14

Amazing Spider-Man. Whatever the reason, the look doesn’t quite work.

So there’s a lot wrong withThe Amazing Spider-Man 2. And yet, despite all of Movie Reviewer Guy’s protestations, Charlie, that fellow who just wants to be entertained, actually kind of enjoyed a lot of the film.

The first ten minutes of the movie, which begins with Spider-Man joyfully swinging through the steel canyons of New York City to the strains of Hans Zimmer’s bombastic score and ends with him joining the police in chasing down some thugs who have hijacked a truck full of radioactive material, is probably the purest translation of the character ever to hit the big screen. It’s all there, his iconic poses as he moves through the air, his intimate connection to the Big Apple (he’s literally attached to the city by his web lines), his love/hate interaction with street level law enforcement, his corny jokes as he fights the criminals.

And don’t get Charlie started on the costume. Has there been a better version of the costume than this one? Look at those big white eyes for crying out loud! Honestly, if Charlie had walked out of the theater after the opening sequence, he would have gladly told anyone who asked that he had just watched the best Spider-Man movie ever made.

It’s true, of course, that the movie as a whole doesn’t live up to the first ten minutes, but there are still some good, entertaining moments throughout. There are worse ways to spend an evening besides watching Spider-Man put on a New York Fire Fighters helmet and using a water hose to fight a guy made out of electricity. It’s also true that the film spends an inordinate amount of time on the romantic comedy segments, bordering at points on the irritating, but the two leads do have good acting chops and a decent chemistry together, so it’s not like it’s complete torture watching them continuously break up and get back together. This isn’t Twilight with spandex. Besides, given that all the emotional weight of the movie hinges on the audience being invested in the Peter/Gwen relationship, it’s hard to fault the movie for taking a little time to build it up.

And while there’s nothing at all wrong with Movie Reviewer Guy’s preference for deep, complex scripts with various levels of subtext that require hours of thought to sort through, Charlie was more than satisfied with The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s simple, old-school comic book morality. Spidey has his adventures and there’s a lesson for him to be learned at the end about suffering and the necessity of hope. And the audience doesn’t have to ferret this meaning out because a character actually gives a little speech at the end of the movie about suffering and the necessity of hope.

In fact, this person comes really, real
ly close to quoting the writings of Pope Benedict XVI where he confirms, “To have Christian hope means to know about evil and yet to go to meet the future with confidence.” And it is imperative that we do this because “the loss of joy does not make the world better – and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the impetus and courage to do good.” Charlie Channelflipper kind of appreciated the fact that his eleven year kid who attended the movie with him got to hear that message about hope rather than just another bland recitation of the “believe in yourself” mantra.

So you can see my quandary with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I don’t know which of my alter-egos to tell you to listen to. Movie Reviewer Guy is right in that there’s a lot of bad filmmaking going on here, and if that’s the most important thing to you, then you should probably avoid this one. But Charlie makes a good point too, because there’s an even chance that despite all the movie’s faults, you’ll still walk out of the theater feeling entertained by the whole cheesy affair. I guess it’s a coin toss. Where’s Two-Face when you need him?

In a world he didn’t create, in a time he didn’t choose, one man looks for signs of God in the world by… watching movies. When he’s not reviewing new releases for Aleteia, David Ives spends his time exploring the intersection of low-budget/cult cinema and Catholicism at The B-Movie Catechism.

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