Sony showed off a solid thirty minutes of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to CinemaCon today, and I done seened it. It was the same footage screened for bloggers last week, so I’m going to skip a beat-by-beat retelling and just tell you what I did and didn’t like.
Pro: Spidey saves a lot of civilians. Like, A LOT. Most of his activity in the two action set pieces we saw is based around saving people from imminent danger. That’s a key to Spider-Man, but also to all good superheroes - their greatest weakness is that they’ll put themselves in danger to protect innocents.
Pro: Marc Webb and his team have nailed Spider-Man visually. The costume looks amazing in action, and the web-slinging is absolutely perfect. What’s more, the footage has Spidey using his powers in innovative ways, including catching a wayward plutonium cannister with his sticky foot.
Con: Electro. Others have already noted that this version of Max Dillon is basically The Riddler from Batman Forever. But it’s worse than that - Jaime Foxx plays him like a cartoon loser, a totally irritant whose irritating irritationality undermines the attempts to make him sympathetic. He’s just too broadly buffoonish to be real. Plus the script ineptly nails home the fact that nobody pays attention to nerdy Max in a way that is eye-rollingly bad. And that’s just what was on display here - I can’t even imagine how bad it is in the whole film.
Con: Another flashback to Peter’s parents. This time the flashback takes the Parkers past dropping their kid off and goes to their deaths. They get on a private plane, escaping Oscorp, but it turns out that there’s an assassin onboard and he’s killed the pilot. Next he wants to kill the Parkers before they can upload some valuable data to the web, there’s a big fight (Richard Parker is an action hero, it seems) and the plane goes down. This is based on stuff from the comics, but the thing is that this sucked in the comics too. This was a huge mistake - the conspiracy business undercuts Peter Parker as everyman in a devastating way. And besides being awful in concept this scene is laughably awful in execution, with the killer repeatedly closing Richard Parker’s laptop.
Pro: The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. One of the scenes shown featured Peter and Gwen talking about their relationship, and it was the best scene we saw. The chemistry between these two makes this the most realistic and believable relationship in any comic book movie franchise. It’s a pity their love is doomed (the scenes we saw dripped with foreshadowing), but maybe that makes it all the sweeter.
In general the footage was good, with a more comic book vibe than the first film. There was a weird slackness to every scene, though, as though everything was edited too loose. There’s a lack of urgency in every scene, even as a truck barrels through a busy intersection or Electro attempts to kill dozens of innocents. That’s a problem because the thirty minutes we saw made me think this movie must be over two hours long, so if everything is so slack the movie is going to feel really, really long.
Still, a lot of my problems with the first film seem to have been addressed. I’m hoping the full product works.