The Amazing Spider-Man 2 BluRay Review
I'm finally getting around to writing this BluRay Review for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I got the movie when it came out but didn't get around to watching it until recently. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. My apprehension had nothing to do with the movie itself per say but rather I honestly couldn't handle it emotionally at the time. This BluRay dropped around the time of the events in Ferguson, Missouri that lead to the death of Michael Brown. Needless to say there was (and still is) a lot of emotion surrounding that case. Truth is, I just wasn't in the right mindset to watch a pretty emotional movie I saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2 twice in the theaters. So I already knew that I would still like this movie months later. Despite the Rotten Tomatoes score and the countless people online saying how terrible it is, I just do not agree with most of the problems folks had with this film. One thing that always shocked me though was how the emotion of the film was so heavy throughout. This is one of the most emotional comic book movies I've seen. There's the obvious climax to the movie but there's so much lead up and building to that moment that it's truly amazing they were able to keep this movie under 3 hours.
I think a lot of the critiques of this movie could be solved if people just disconnected for a while, sat back and just watched it. Spider-Man is such an iconic character that I think a lot of people have an idea of what Spider-Man and Peter Parker should be and they aren't really interested in any deviations from that. I also think people are stuck in an old mindset that movies, even if they're part of a larger series, must fully explain everything and fully develop each character. If you don't think you can handle either of these things, then not only is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 not the movie for you, but I don't think any of Sony's Spider-Man properties going forward are going to be your cup of tea. There's a lot of set up in this movie. I believe it's actually the closest to an actually comic book that we've had so far. Here's what I mean by that. In comic books, a lot of times we'll be introduced to characters and plot lines without getting all the information we need. Very often it's almost as if we enter into a conversation at its midpoint and have to wait to be filled in on the backstory. Comic Books are very episodic and you can never just read one to get the full picture. A perfect example of this is Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run. He introduces this character Ord but and then we go several issues before we're brought back full circle. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is similar in that it introduces us to a lot of characters but we don't always get to focus on them because the story at this point isn't about them. It's just set up. And I'm fine with that. I like the fact that Aleksei Stysevich bookends the movie, first as just a Russian Mafia thug and then at the end as the Rhino. I didn't need to see a full fight between them. Again, this is something that happens quite frequently in comic books. We sometimes see the lead up to the fight, the moment right before the blows then we come to the next issue and the fight is over. I can see why some folks might not like that but to me, it fits with the comic book feel of this movie. I don't mind when films just take comic book characters and use them to make a good movie. But I also like the idea of making a good movie into a live action comic book. The villains in this film are just to move the story along and the story is centered on Peter Parker trying to manage his life and failing at it. It's the tragic reality of Peter Parker that is the center of a lot of good runs for him. Gwen Stacy's fate is really the true villain of the movie. The rest are just props to help get us to that point.
Now no movie is perfect and there are a few minor problems I had with this movie. The first isn't really with the movie but rather with promotion. I think Sony got a little ahead of themselves with talk of 3 villains in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. While I didn't have a problem with the way Rhino, Electro and the Green Goblin were used, it's clear many people did. And I blame that on the promotion. Sony's promotion made the movie seem like it was more about the villains and that there would be a team up. I think at this point, studios need to realize that making folks think one thing, and then giving them another can lead to some very bad reactions. I get the need and desire to hype a movie and to get people in the theater. But purposely misleading potential viewers and have a negative effect. There were a lot of "villains united" promotions going on about this movie and truth is, there really wasn't any team ups. Clearly Sony is working towards that with the Sinister Six but I think they jumped the gun here with promotion. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems more like it was always supposed to be an intro course into Spider-Man's rogue gallery and a stepping stone to the Sinister Six and I'm okay with that. I just think they could have saved themselves some heartache by not promoting it like Spider-Man would be facing 3 villains at once. And that's not to say they didn't handle the villains in the movie well. On the contrary I think they did. While Rhino and Green Goblin didn't get a lot of screen time, I think it's fairly clear we'll be seeing them again in the future. Even Electro should be back. Remember, he's pretty much pure energy at this point and you can't destroy that.
My other issue with the film is the airplane scene during the Electro fight. I know why they put it in there. They needed to put in scenes to show that the power grid going down because of Electro wasn't going to just result in kids having to do their homework by candle light but actually have some tragic and fatal consequences. I also know that if they didn't put that scene in there, folks would have complained about the stakes not being high enough. So I get it. I just didn't need to see it. I'm smart enough in my movie watching, I don't need to be hand held on things like this. I didn't need to know how Bruce got back to Gotham in The Dark Knight Rises, I didn't need to know why there was so much destruction in Man of Steel and I didn't need this scene to tell me that if a major metropolitan area lost its power grid, there would be dire consequences.
BluRay-wise, this movie is gorgeous to watch at home. What really struck me was how good the 3D was. I've said it before, I'll say it again, if you have a 3D TV, watching 3D BluRays at home is another level. Watching active 3D at home is miles above what you see in the theater. What's truly amazing about this film is that it wasn't shot in 3D like the first one, it was converted. Yet it still looks stunning. If you have a 3D TV (or are considering one in the future), I highly recommend getting this on 3D BluRay. The same goes for the sound. The soundtrack really complements this film. Especially the Electro theme. Adding the fast paced lyrics to the track really makes it seem like Jamie Foxx's Max Dillon has voices in his head and it's one of my favorite personal themes for a character.
I really enjoyed this film and I still think it's the best live action Spider-Man film ever done. Now that the snarkiness has died down, I really think folks who didn't like it the first time they watched it need to sit down and give it another try. Don't live tweet it, don't go in expecting to hate it, just sit down and watch the movie. I've seen a lot of hate for this movie and most of the "problems" folks have with it can also be found in their favorite movies. Also I've noticed that a lot of these so called issues are actually answered in the film either directly or are inferred. It reminds me of when I was told by someone they didn't like the first movie because of the plot hole where the cops are turned into lizards and are never cured. I had to point out that they were in fact cured and that it was part of the movie. I think sometimes we get so ahead of ourselves and want to be snarky and witty and hate something that we actually forget to watch the movie first. While it's not my favorite comic book movie of the year, I definitely enjoyed it and I'm glad I added it to my collection.
I didn't always watch the extras that came with DVDs and BluRays but now it's a requirement for me. I actually feel let down if a BluRay doesn't include them. The good thing about comic book movies is they always seem to come with a ton. I was actually getting upset at how many featurettes and deleted scenes were being leaked before this BluRay was released but let me tell you, it's only a fraction of what's on this disc. There is a ton of good stuff here. First, it does come with full feature commentary from Producers Avi Arad & Matt Tomach as well as writers Alex Kurtzman and Jeff Pinker. If you can, I always suggest spending some time watching the commentary because it's always great to get the insight into scenes from the people who created them. In addition to the full feature commentary, the deleted scenes also have optional commentary. I'm really glad more films are doing this. It's nice to hear what the original thinking was behind a scene and then why it was cut out. Just adds more to the film. Anyway, here's a breakdown of all the special features on this disc:
[tab title="Deleted Scenes"]This movie has a lot of deleted scenes and most of them are actually pretty good. But this movie already clocks in at 2 hours and 22 minutes and unlike say, Thor The Dark World, none of the deleted scenes are necessary for the story. Matter of fact I'm glad most of them were cut. There's a pretty emotional scene with Peter and his father. Looks like at one point they were considering having Richard Parker return. While it's a very emotionally gripping scene, I'm glad they ultimately decided not to go this direction. There's a similar scene with Max Dillon and his verbally abusive mother. Its purpose seemed to be to show us that Max was constantly treated horribly, even at home from his own mother. Again, not a bad scene but Max's isolation and bad treatment is documented enough it wasn't necessary. I will say Max has a hilarious line in the scene. He says "My singing voice is amazing, I should be singing hooks for famous rappers". I almost wish the scene was included just for that line. Anyone who knows Jamie Foxx knows why it's funny. The only other scenes of significance to me that I actually think could have been included are: 1. A scene from the trailer where Harry tells Peter that Norman was having Peter followed and under surveillance. It also gives Felicia Hardy more screen time and introduces us to the Battlesuit Harry wears as the Goblin. 2. An extension of the transformation scene of Harry into the Goblin. It shows him a bit of him breaking out of OsCorp and again gives Felicia some more screen time. Both of these scenes are nice to haves but nothing major. I do think if they cut out the plane scene they could have added this but again, I see legit reasons for why every one of these scenes was edited out. [/tab]
[tab title="The Wages of Heroism: Making the Amazing Spider-Man 2"]
Lessons Learned: Development and Direction - This featurette was pretty cool. It went over the direction they wanted to go with this movie as well as some of the history. It's one of the reasons why I think Sony's promotion for this movie was so off. This movie really is about Peter being a flawed hero and his relationship with Gwen Stacy. I think Sony thought they needed to "spice up" the promotion and so they focused on the villains but that was never the true intentions of the film. This feature also gives some background on Gwen Stacy and her history. I found it interesting that Emma Stone wanted to play Gwen specifically because she knew what her fate would be. I think Gwen is hands down the best female character Sony has put into any of their Spider-Man movies and the connection the audience has with her makes her end even more touching.
A couple of other point from this feature that I found interesting. There were a lot of complaints about the suit in The Amazing Spider-Man. While I like the suit in 2 a lot better, what I found interesting was how practical the first suit was. The eyes were small because they were basically the eyepieces of sunglasses. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. And it also makes sense that Peter's suit improves as he goes along. The second thing was that this film was converted into 3D instead of shot in 3D like the first film. Webb says he had more freedom since 3D cameras are so big and hard to move around. With improvements in the conversion process, I think we'll see more of this. James Gunn even pointed out that he actually had MORE control over the 3D by converting it after than he did shooting it in 3D.[/tab]
[tab title="Heart of the City: Shooting in New York"]
The most interesting thing about this feature was the part where they showed how they shot the scene on the airplane with Peter's parents. They built this rig that actually rotated the plane set. They also used the same setup for the scene with Peter trying to take off his suit before Aunt May came into the room. [/tab]
[tab title="Triple Threat: Attack of the Villains "]
Two main focuses of this feature were the fight scenes at Time Square and the Clock Tower. First off, Jamie Foxx is a fool. You can tell he had a ton of fun doing this role. Also they show how they reconstructed Time Square in Long Island with a green screen set in a parking lot to film all the destruction. This feature also goes over the symbolism in the Clock Tower fight with Spider-Man, Goblin and Gwen. [/tab]
[tab title="A More Dangerous World: Transforming Goblin and Electro"]
This focuses on the makeup and design of Electro and Goblin. Gotta be honest, as much as folks say actors and actresses are overpaid, I don't think I could sit in a chair for 2-4 hours getting makeup and prosthetics put on me. Dane DeHaan had to sit in a chair for 2 hours to get makeup put on then another 2 hours to get the Goblin Battlesuit on. Oh and then he had to act, in all that, on a set that under the lights would get to like 100 degrees. Yeah, I think they're worth the money they get. Also, I want to thank them for not just painting Jamie Foxx blue like they did Arnold for Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin. [/tab]
[tab title="Bolt from the Blue: Visual Effects"]
This feature goes over some of the different visualizations of Spider-Man and the improved technology they used to shoot the film. One thing they talk about is something that I noticed which was how the cloth on Spider-Man's suit in some of the CG look significantly improved. It really made it seem more realistic. For Electro, they used color cues from space and nature to really give his 'electric' look and feel. It really did bring the character to life. I remember when we saw set photos of Foxx being blue and it didn't look that impressive. But when you add the effects, it's beautiful. Also, they explain how difficult it was to shoot the "time freeze" scene where Spider-Man saves all the people from being electrocuted. This is why I like watching these extras. It's always the scenes we don't think much of when we see them that when you look behind the scenes, actually took a lot of work and time to pull off. [/tab]
[tab title="Spidey Gets His Groove Back"]
I love the music of Comic Book Movies. I feel like a good soundtrack is just as important as a good cast and script. This feature is actually pretty fun. Hans Zimmer is awesome and I love his work on this film. What was so cool was how Zimmer WANTED to work with Pharrell and others. How cool is that? [/tab]
[tab title="The Music of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with Director Marc Webb"]
Another feature about the music of the movie with Marc Webb. Basically its Webb sitting in what looks like his living room talking about the score and working with Hans Zimmer[/tab][/tabgroup]