May 2, 2014, - 8:56 am

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Fun Movie Returns to Superhero Classic Formula

By Debbie Schlussel

I liked “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” in movie theaters today, more than any other superhero film I’ve seen in the last five to ten years. That’s because the other superhero movies of late were so bad, so unmagical, so uninteresting. This one returns to the classic superhero movie formula I remember as a kid.

amazingspiderman2

I’m not normally a fan of Spiderman (my favorite superheroes are Superman, Captain Marvel, and Wonder Woman) or of Andrew Garfield, whom I think of as kinda nerdy. But ASM2 recaptures the magic, the classic, stark good versus evil plot, and it is engrossing and suspenseful from beginning to end of its overlong 2.5 hours. But even with the length of the film, every moment of it was suspenseful, exciting, and entertaining. I wasn’t bored for a second. The plot is simple and easy to understand, unlike many of the confusing jumbles and crazy plots in many recent superhero movies. Plus Garfield is very good in this as a self-deprecating, funny, morally upright Peter Parker/Spiderman.












I could have done without several scenes of him with tears in his eyes. But at least one of these scenes has to do with finding out what happened to his father, and learning that his father was the loving, righteous man he thought. That’s another plus with this movie: the fathers–though absent in physical body–shine through as their love and concern for their kids (Peter Parker and his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, who is played by Emma Stone) is made clear.

If you are a parent concerned with whether or not to take your kids, this movie is completely clean. There’s no sex or dirty language. None of that. It’s a wholesome reincarnation of the superhero movies from decades ago in that respect. And, unlike some other recent superhero movies, there are no left-wing politics hidden in any messages as far as I could see.

But when it comes to special effects, it’s wholly modern. I don’t usually recommend shelling out the extra bucks for a 3D, but this is one of the rare instances, where I say, go for it. The 3D effects in this movie are particularly good and make the movie even more engrossing.

There are many plots and several villains in the jam-packed 2.5 hours. So don’t drink an extra-large Coke at the beginning. You won’t want to leave for a bathroom break, or you’ll miss something. Also, don’t worry if you haven’t seen the first installment of this incarnation of Spiderman movies. This movie explains what happened in the backstory and you will understand exactly what’s going on.

There are three villains. Electro is a nerdy OsCorp employee played by Jamie Foxx, who is electrocuted and vows to steal all of the power from the city and make New York a very dark place. I should note that in the comic books, Electro is White (so is Nick Fury from Captain America, who is played by Samuel L. Jackson in the movies). Then, there is Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), the kid CEO of OsCorp, who has taken over after his father dies. He’s dying of a mysterious disease and wants Spiderman’s blood. He ultimately becomes the Green Goblin. He is the more interesting and intriguing of the villains (and played by a better actor than Foxx). And, finally, there is Aleksei Sytsevich, a Russian with a Soviet Union “Hammer and Sickle” tattoo, played by Paul Giamatti (I didn’t realize it was Giamatti until the credits ran). Please, Hollywood, put the stale Russian villain narrative to bed.

Amidst his battles with the villains, Spiderman/Parker is also battling the demons of his father who “abandoned” him as a kid and the demons of Gwen Stacy’s deceased police chief dad, who wanted him to stay away from her because Parker puts her in danger with his many battles against criminals and other villains. He stays with Stacy, then breaks up with her, and then she wants to go abroad, to his regret.

Yes, there’s a lot going on. A lot. But it’s a return to the classic, fast-paced, good-versus-evil, evil-is-vanquished formula of the past. And I liked it. No, it’s not as good as some of Christopher Reeve’s “Superman” movies or anything like that. But it’s pretty good.

And it’s a great start to the summer movie season.

THREE REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

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17 Responses

“I should note that in the comic books, Electro is White (so is Nick Fury from Captain America, who is played by Samuel L. Jackson in the movies)”
Of all the inconsistancies form the comic book to the movie, you found this to be the most important to point out.

Silly Debbie

Mr. Man on May 2, 2014 at 10:03 am

    “Of all the inconsistancies form the comic book to the movie, you found this to be the most important to point out.”

    And yet despite the apparently progressive air you try to assert in your criticism of Debbie, you make no mention of the fact that a black actor wasn’t selected for the role of Spiderman.

    If the studios and Hollywood can arbitrarily change the color of the character’s skin to appease race-baiters and show that they’re “colorblind” in this post-racial America, why didn’t they choose a black actor to portray Peter Parker?

    I guess it doesn’t bother you that Hollywood is “colorblind” unless it’s a really big-budget film and they’re really counting on Asian and global box office.

    Oops! Looks like your racism is showing, Mr. Man ;)

    DS_ROCKS! on May 2, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Oh Mr Man, thanks for giving us an education.

    Debbie mentioned the detail you question because Hollywood has standard leftist gestures, among which is making heros black (or female).

    skzion on May 4, 2014 at 9:54 am

Peter Parker is supposed to be nerdy. The whole deal with Spider Man is that he was a moody and immature teen.

Vivian on May 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I have some expertise in the history of comic books, so let me shed some light on the “nerd” issue. In the early, original issues of Spiderman, Peter Parker was incredibly nerdy. This is the way Stan Lee wrote him and the way Steve Dikto drew him. However, over time, as Peter Parker aged (and aging takes place very, very slowly in comic books), in subsequent issues, Peter Parker became a cooler character and much more effective with his love interest. So, you’re both right. It depends on which era of Spiderman you’re talking about.

    Ralph Adamo on May 5, 2014 at 8:12 pm

The original Nick Fury is white.

They did a ‘re-imagining’ of Marvel Comics called the ‘Ultimate Universe’ and in that universe, Nick Fury was visually based off of Samuel L. Jackson and was black.

They liked it so much they hired the actual Samuel L. Jackson for the movie.

And in normal Marvel comics, they ‘revealed’ that Nick Fury’s son was about as black as our current president, so that they could have a ‘Nick Fury Jr.’ who went with the movies.

luagha on May 2, 2014 at 1:27 pm

What– you mean all the villains didn’t turn out to be old, rich, white men??? What has happened to Hollywood?!?

unPC on May 2, 2014 at 1:35 pm

I was unsure whether I would enjoy this movie. After reading your review, I’m sure I will.

Jackie the Reader on May 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Didn’t Marvel announce that their new Spidey comic would portray him as a gay, bi-racial (Puerto Rican black?) I haven’t read a comic in 25 years, so I’m not sure.

DS_ROCKS! on May 2, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Thanks for the movie review Debbie. Spiderman is my favorite Marvel superhero along with Captain America, Daredevil and Thor. It is good that they seemed to do a superhero movie the right way as the last Superman movie was a big disappointment. Jamie Foxx as Electro is funny in the fact that the Obama loving jerk is annoying and not that good of an actor. Still this movie looks like it will be fun to watch.

Ken b on May 2, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Andrew Garfield is very good looking. Actually, so is Dane DeHaan. Neither are the conventional/boring type actors Hollywood seems to love more.

Bee on May 2, 2014 at 4:43 pm

The trailer to this movie does looks pretty good. I’d like to see it but these new, young actors don’t really appeal to me. When you mentioned Captain Marvel I couldn’t remember who he was and I looked him and I thought, “hmm, he looks like Shazam.” I didn’t know that they are the same character. Kind of funny.

Daniel Middleman on May 2, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Daniel,

    Yes the DC Captain Marvel is also named Shazam. The Marvel comic versions are Captain-Marvell an alien and two earth women one Black and one White. The Black hero is now named Spectrum and she used to be the Avenger’s leader. The White hero is now called Ms Marvel and she is a current Avenger. In the comics Ms Marvel incidentally has a thing for Spiderman.

    Ken b on May 3, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      “the DC Captain Marvel is also named Shazam”

      Is that a re-write?

      I bought a re-issue of the original Cpt. Marvel in about 1972 and “SHAZAM” was the word he uttered (an acronym of six famous gods, Zeuss, Mercury, etc.)to summon his super powers, but not the name he also went by.

      DS_ROCKS! on May 4, 2014 at 12:11 am

I must be used to the cartoons I watched on tv as kid and when I used to work at a Fox affiliate where as far as I remember Peter Parker wasn’t portrayed as this nerdy character.

Daniel Middleman on May 2, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Debbie says: “But at least one of these scenes has to do with finding out what happened to his father, and learning that his father was the loving, righteous man he thought. That’s another plus with this movie: the fathers–though absent in physical body–shine through as their love and concern for their kids (Peter Parker and his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, who is played by Emma Stone) is made clear.”

Spiderman, like most comic book superheros, can be readily analyzed in psychoanalytic terms because the original characters were created so that youngsters, mostly males, can identify with them. As such, Spiderman is another playing out of the Oedipal Complex.

However, comic books always break out the “good father” from the “bad father” that the “son” (Peter Parker) is doing battle with. In comic books, the “good father” is nearly always killed off or he is already dead when the series starts. The “good father” may be the biological father, as in Jor-El in Superman, or he may be a step father. Either way, the Superhero “sons” always have great reverence for these “good father” figures.

However, the playing out of the Oedipus Complex, involves the dynamic of the Son fighting the Bad Father (be he Sandman, Dr. Octopus, Electro, Green Goblin, etc.).

Then, there’s the “mother” figure that the Son also seeks to love. To the young comic book reader, Lois Lane was the archtype mother figure, and for Spiderman, it’s Mary Jane.

Each comic book issue and each movie is a mini resolution of the Oedipal Complex. The omnipotent son vanquishes the bad father (at least temprorarily) and achieves some level of union with the mother figure.

Interestingly, in straight comedy cartoons, the “father figure” is typically not split into two characters (one good that the Superhero can identify with and one evil father or villain to engage in the Oedipal battle with). Rather, in comedy cartoons, the father figure is a usually a single, depreciated father figure and a person to be made fun of, like Elmer Fudd (father) to Buggs Bunny or Daffy Duck (son)–or Wile E. Coyote (father) to Road Runner (son).

Ralph Adamo on May 5, 2014 at 8:34 pm

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