Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
As grand as the themes of good and evil, needs and deservings, power and responsibility and such forth are, superhero movies are generally pretty straightforward in premise: hero stops villain from wreaking havoc. As off-putting as this kind of simplicity might sound, it's usually the right way to go. If you pack enough substance into your characters and adhere your plot to these linear margins, you can actually wind up saying a healthy amount (and having a lot of fun). The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets half of this formula down pat. Although Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker is still a moreover undistinguished identity, his emotional magnitude (re: his relationship with Gwen Stacy) is enough to keep him valid through the storm of lunacy that is his second feature. And it's not even that lunacy that holds him back. The problem isn't how wild his conquests are, how silly some of the action sequences feel, or how absolutely bonkers his villains turn out to be. It's all the other stuff (and yes, if you can believe it, there's a ton more going on in this movie than what I've already mentioned — that's the issue). All the plot twists, tertiary mysteries, ominous flashbacks, abject reveals, and weightlessly sinister pawns in this brooding game that, save for its fun with the baddies, takes itself way too seriously. All that stuff that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 thinks is necessary to make Peter Parker matter? It actually does just the opposite.
Peter is at his best when he's playing Tracy and Hepburn with the girlfriend he's perpetually disappointing (the eternally charming Emma Stone), or trying to win back the favor of the only remaining parental figure from whom he's rapidly slipping away (Sally Field, reminding us why she's a household name), or angling to connect with the mentally unstable engineer who just wants people to notice him (Jamie Foxx working his comic shtick with a frightening zest). We have the most fun with Peter when he's playing the simplest games, and we connect best with him on similar ground. But Peter and company, at the behest of The Amazing Spider-Man franchise's Sandman-sized aspirations, spend so much time exploring new avenues: the secrets surrounding the death and work of Richard Parker, the behind-the-curtains operations of OsCorp, the nefarious goings on in the waterside penitentiary Ravencroft.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
As a result of the grand stab at world building, there is just so much stuff that Peter has to wade through in this movie, dragging the likes of Gwen and his boyhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan, mastering angst, menace, and upper-class privilege all at once) into the dark crevasses of narrative waste. With so many diversions into the emotionally vacant, deliberately joyless explorations of Parker family origin stories, secret brief cases, and underground subways — The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rivals Captain America: The Winter Soldier in complexity, but forgets the necessary ingredient of fun — we barely have enough energy left when the good stuff hits.
And in truth, the good stuff isn't really good enough to sustain us through all the duller periods. Garfield and Stone do have laudable chemistry. Foxx is a hoot as Peter's maniacal new foe, especially when paired with the grimacing DeHaan. And the action, while often straying from any aesthetic authenticity, is nothing shy of neat-o. It's all passable, occasionally worthy of a hearty smile, but rarely anything you'll be definitively pleased you took the time to see.
But beyond coming up short in the micro, the film's regal downfall is its scope. With so much to do, both in accomplishing its own necessary plot points and setting up for those to come in future films, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn't seem to take time to make sure it's having fun with its own premise. And if it isn't having fun, we won't be either.
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Earlier today, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes announced they would be getting a divorce after five years of marriage. In a society built on basic humanity, news of any longtime romantic pair's splitting would be treated with a somber mood and, perhaps, best wishes to both parties involved. However, we do not live in such a world. We live in a world with Twitter.
After quite a while perusing the social networking site to get a taste of how the public was reacting to Cruise's and Holmes' split, a pattern became apparent. For, after immersing itself in the deepest, darkest knolls of the Twitterverse, Hollywood.com couldn't come across a single Tweet about Tom and Katie that was not making fun of their divorce.
Whether you find this to be shameful or entertaining, it's simply the turn our society has taken. So here it is: just a sample of the mass of Cruise/Holmes hate that is encompassing the Internet.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are divorcing? But they pretended to be so happy!— Robin McCauley (@RobinMcCauley) June 29, 2012
That awkward moment when you find out Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are getting divorced, and you're just surprised they lasted this long.— That Awkward Moment (@SoVeryAwkward) June 29, 2012
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are divorcing. Probably because he makes Luna Lovegood look sane.— The Dark Lord (@Lord_Voldemort7) June 29, 2012
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are getting a divorce, apparently she wants a guy who she doesn't have to kneel down to talk to.— Darth Vader (@DepressedDarth) June 29, 2012
If Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes can't make it work, what chance do the rest of us have? A pretty excellent one.— Andy Borowitz (@BorowitzReport) June 29, 2012
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are divorcing. Holmes says it's because he jumped on too many women's couches.— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) June 29, 2012
CNN reporting Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes happily celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary. #developing— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) June 29, 2012
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are divorcing. Apparently, she's a huge Jack Reacher fan and has just seen the trailer. #harsh #cruel— Marcus Woolcott (@Gyropitus) June 29, 2012
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes finally decided that pretending to be in love was 'Mission: Impossible'.— Darth Vader (@DepressedDarth) June 29, 2012
CNN just reported Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are getting married! #congrats— Shawn Garrett (@ShawnGarrett) June 29, 2012
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Are Getting a Divorce
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