Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Negative Review: The Amazing Spiderman 2 Sucks

Caption to come later.

First, let's acknowledge that this movie has mind-blowing CGI – everything looks fantastic. Anyway, now that all the good things about the movie are out of the way...

The Amazing Spiderman 2 is a movie about a hero who isn't really a hero at all. At times, Spiderman will act heroically, but in every case it will be an unintended side effect and the heroic nature of his acts will be entirely coincidental. Consider the first action scene involving Spiderman: a criminal is shown rampaging through the streets in a large truck, trying to get away with some precious cargo, and only Spiderman is able to stop him – but what does Spiderman actually end up doing? To answer that, you really have to get through the rest of the movie first, as it's very hard to otherwise understand why Spiderman allows the truck to destroy so much of the city and potentially kill so many civilians before putting a stop to it; in truth, Spiderman just does whatever the fuck he wants (later on, we are shown that Spiderman is easily able to stop much, much larger threats with ease, and in a shorter amount of time, no less).

The issue is that whenever Spiderman rescues someone, it's not because of his upstanding morals or his drive towards using his powers ethically – it's because he feels like it. All throughout the movie, Spiderman consistently demonstrates that he doesn't care about anyone other than himself: when he's mopey, he allows crime to run rampant for months because he doesn't feel morally obliged to prevent it; when he's feeling lovestruck, he stalks his ex-girlfriend, Gwen, using his superpowers, and when confronted about it, it turns out she thinks it's sweet; and when Spiderman initially decides to break up with Gwen, it's not even because he realizes he has to make sacrifices in order to preserve his ability to fight crime with a clear head, or even because he fears for Gwen's safety – it's because he's too much of a coward to confront her family, knowing that he caused George Stacy's death. Thus, every example, and even the seemingly paramount example of Spiderman's commitment to his principles actually reveals the latter as being entirely based on his massive hubris; because Spiderman is never shown as being conflicted about Gwen (because that whole problem is nothing a few movie-minutes and inconsistent writing can't fix – look! They're back together again!), and because Spiderman is never shown being conflicted about deciding whether he wants to help the public or live his own life, it ends up being that Spiderman's conflict is about whether or not he wants the girl or the public's adoration – it's sickening, and nothing about it has anything to do with being a hero.

In truth, the problem lies within the mess of this version's origin story: George Stacy ends up being more of a father figure to Peter than does Uncle Ben. At first, this doesn't seem like much of an issue, but the problem becomes clear when you realize that because Uncle Ben is completely overshadowed by George Stacy, the latter's death also overshadows the former's – and in doing this, the clichéd death from which the hero learns about the responsibility corresponding to his powers forever has its reference point skewed; because Peter learns about the responsibility of having his superpowers from George Stacy, whose death is in no way the former's fault, nothing about the avoidance of self-absorption and ego ever permeates Spiderman's character, and because of this, a standard for Peter to understand about using his powers responsibly is never established. When Uncle Ben dies, it's because Peter is an irresponsible asshole, but because the movie favors George Stacy's death more in terms of teaching Peter about being a superhero, Peter learns that when others die as a result of his entanglement in their lives, it doesn't really have very much to do with him, because, in effect, George Stacy only ends up dying because Spiderman exists – not because of Spiderman's moral choices.

Then, of course, there are the movie's villains, which are an entirely different cacophony of bullshit. I mean, seriously, does a single instance of bullying and rejection cause people to turn into mass murderers? I know that this is a superhero movie, and it's quite obvious that this movie operates in the world of fiction, but even so, Electro is shown to be about the most meek and reserved individual in the entire movie, before his transformation, and Harry Osborn is shown to be Peter's best friend since childhood (okay, actually, the movie does a shit job of actually showing it anywhere, but anyway...), before the latter immediately decides to try and murder Peter and everything in life that he holds dear. There's something to be said for the necessity of moving through the motions quickly, given that superhero movies based on comic books (well, the ones that are, at least) don't have the luxury of time and length in order to set up a more reasonable exposition, but at that point, all we're really doing here is trying to justify rushed writing – yeah, because Electro lost his first popularity contest versus Spiderman, in front of a group of people he's never met, Electro decides he's going to just up and kill everyone; because Harry finds out that Spiderman is unwilling to give him a solution that may not even work for a problem that won't be relevant for literal decades, he decides he's going to up and kill everyone in Spiderman's life. 

In fact, the behavior of the villains sort of reflects this movie's inability to take people's emotional struggles seriously; throughout the beginning of the movie, with a gradual increase into oblivion by its end, Peter tries to find out about his parents, when he's not busy trying to go after a girl who's said no, stalking the girl who's said no, or being a dick to Aunt May... and what actually comes of it? Why does anyone even care? What significance does it have in terms of any conflict's resolution? I couldn't find anything, and believe me, I tried – all I really noticed was that the purported struggle Peter faces about being abandoned by his parents is identical in principle to Peter's parents abandoning Uncle Ben and Aunt May, yet Peter never once stops to consider if that should influence his disgusting behavior towards the latter group, since Peter feels like pursuing the parents' storyline (hey, it was a flashback in the beginning! It's important, guys!).

Do you remember Spiderman, from 2002? The one Sam Raimi made? Yeah, that one. In that movie, Peter acts irresponsibly, which leads to  Uncle Ben dying, and then afterwards Peter forever understands the gravity and responsibility of being a superhero. Unlike in this movie, Peter immediately pays the ultimate price for being egotistic. But, as stated before, when Peter acts selfishly in this recent movie, and does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, it's not because he's full of himself and doesn't actually have a moral standard – it's because he's trying to give people hope! The kind that makes small children want to walk into the face of certain death in the form of a giant, rhinoceros-shaped robot... the kind that demands he seek public glory, and, supposing that doesn't happen... well, shit, maybe he'll just flip out and murder everyone.


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