Sunday, August 17, 2014

Video review: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"

Sophomore slumps are an unfortunate reality for plenty of big-budget sequels, and that includes “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” It’s still an enjoyable comic book flick featuring everyone’s favorite web-slinger, but it can’t muster the verve and pizzazz of its predecessor.

Its main problem is an overabundance of characters and plot. The best super-hero movies tend to focus on a single villain or existentialist threat, but here we’ve got storylines splayed all over the place like random spider webs.

Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) has to deal with at least three bad guys, including his best friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) slowly turning into the Green Goblin and Paul Giamatti rampaging (briefly) as the Rhino.

The main heavy is Jamie Foxx as Max, a shy social outcast who idolizes Spidey. He gets zapped by some electrical eels and turned into a living power generator who dubs himself Electro – with his emotions clearing having no voltage regulator.

Foxx makes for a terrific villain, a man deluded by his own quest for power, and compares favorably with Alfred Molina’s Dr. Octopus from the last Spider-Man iteration. But he’s not given enough screen time to fully flesh out the character. Similarly, the Harry/Peter and Green Goblin/Spider-Man twin conflicts show just enough promise to suggest they deserved their own movie to fully explore.

On top of all these super-villains to fight, Peter’s got a lot weighing on his shoulders: a will they/won’t they romance with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), guilt over the death of Gwen’s cop father, tensions with Aunt May (Sally Field), and the mystery of Peter’s disappeared parents.

The CG action scenes are still a blast, but sometimes less really is more. A more focused film would’ve been a better one.

Fortunately, the video extras are first-rate. The DVD comes with four deleted scenes with commentary by director Marc Webb, a feature length commentary track, and the “It’s On Again” music video with Alicia Keys.

Upgrade to the Blu-ray edition, and you add nine more deleted scenes and a comprehensive making-of documentary, “The Wages of Heroism: Making The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”



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