Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Image courtesy Sony Pictures.

Image courtesy Sony Pictures.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”  achieves exactly what Sony Pictures seemed to have in mind; make a film that will fill seats, make a profit, and insure an “Amazing Spider-Man 3.” It’s not a bad film, just pedestrian. And it adds as little as possible to the Spider-Man cinematic canon.

The film manages to be a long, painfully long, toy commercial that does not fall into the trap of “Batman and Robin,” a film people still talk about. To Joel Schumacher’s credit, he created a Batman movie that won’t, no cannot, be forgotten. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” however, is a forgettable film.

amazing spiderman 2 posterI saw it 24 hours ago, and I’m having trouble recalling much of the film. It is ephemera, not cinema. Am I being to harsh on a comic book movie? Not at all. People still talk about “The Avengers” and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films. Last month’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” featured superheroes and a strong plot.

The action scenes in this installment, or more accurately, Sony’s legally-necessary release, are typical of summer fare, full of impossible CGI shots and ultra-slow motion imagery. But the action scenes do almost nothing for the story. They just happen.

Yes, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” has a story, which is almost the exact story of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films. I’ve seen these chunks of plot too many times. Peter Parker’s love life is again, challenged by his career as a web slinger, aunt May is worried about Peter and sad, Gwen Stacy wants to do something with her life (it was Mary Jane in Raimi’s) and needs to figure needs Peter to figure out her enigmatic clues or she’s gone, some guy gets in an accident and decides he wants to be a supervillain, and so forth.

Yet the film is competent and, occasionally, enjoyable. The feeling is of a film written by committee, but an occasional emotion comes through. The cast is great, doing the best with what they have been given. Andrew Garfield turns in a strong performance as Peter Parker. Dane DeHaan enters the film as Harry Osborne. DeHaan has some great scenes early in the film, but, like everyone else, must turn into an insane villain before the film’s end.

My favorite scene has Peter and Harry by the waterline talking. For a moment, the film radiated sincerity. Maybe director Marc Webb — I kid you not. That’s his name — should make a Spider-Man film just about Peter’s relationships. The personal moments, along with a few Spider-Man moments, save the film from ruin.

As for the villains in this film, I don’t care. I’ve seen the same origin story many times. They exist to give Spider-Man something to do. Jamie Foxx does fine with a role that gives him little to do.  Paul Giamatti, playing the Rhino, has nothing to do in the movie. He is the film for five minutes.

If only to confuse the entire theater, Sony tacked on a teaser for Twentieth Century Fox’s summer Marvel film “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” This happens about a minute into the end credits. Unlike the Disney Marvel films, this teaser had nothing to do with this Spider-Man film or any future one.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” as its title suggest, is a product. In a few years, Sony will release “The Amazing Spider-Man 3.” Why bother with proper titles when a number will do. Kids seemed to enjoy the movie, but if you are over 12, I suggest you see “Captain America : The Winter Soldier” instead.

 

 

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Every Other Sunday: The Little Waldorf Saloon

The games selection is small, but there is still enough to keep you busy while you wait for your meal.

The games selection is small, but there is still enough to keep you busy while you wait for your meal.

My youngest son, Lucas, visits me every other weekend. It is a time to focus on having fun and enjoying our time together. All other obligations get put aside for a few days. At 13, he is tall, lanky and wears his hair long. Sunday is our day to go out for lunch and on most Sundays we go to the Little Waldorf Saloon in Reno, Nev. But the journey involves a few other stops.

Neither of us has Internet on our home computers, so we stop at the University of Nevada, and share time on the computers. For an hour, we watch the trailers to the latest movies and check YouTube for the latest video of a teenage skateboarder castrating himself on the rails of a park stairway.

Then we cross the street and go to the Little Waldorf Saloon. The restaurant, styled in rustic wood and a cannon sitting on its roof, has our favorite special on Sundays: buy one hamburger; get a second for a penny. The cannon came to Reno with the restaurants founder, Red Waldorf, when he left his uncle’s hotel, the Waldorf Astoria, and travel to Reno to start a restaurant in 1922. The Little Waldorf would fire the cannon when the UNR Wolf Pack won a game. However, the Reno police put an end to that due to noise.  We sit down at a booth and watch a bit of whatever game is on the television. Today it’s football. The inside is dark, with stained hardwood beams, seats and, well, just about everything in the restaurant is covered in wood or Old West antiques.

Lucas is still the reigning champion of Dragon Punch!

Lucas is still the reigning champion of Dragon Punch!

After Lucas orders the Great Bacon Burger and I go for the Sourdough Burger, we play video games. The Little Waldorf has a limited selection of games, but we enjoy ourselves. “Street Fighter II” and pinball are always on our agenda. But Lucas loves “Dragon Punch,” which isn’t even a video game. It is a larger-than-average boxing speed bag attached to a machine. Punch the bag, and the machine gives you a score.  Lucas got the highest score, 8648, a few months ago and he takes pride that no one has yet to beat his score.

To my chagrin, I have yet to beat him on this game. I know how to throw a punch and, at three times the boy’s weight, I should be able to beat him easily. Yet every other week I get served.

Bottlecaps ($5.49) are green and red jalapenos battered, fried and served with ranch dressing. The batter is light and almost reminds me of tempura. This is a great appetizer with a little heat and the addition of red peppers adds a little variety to the look of the dish. This got a thumbs up from Lucas.

Bottlecaps ($5.49) are green and red jalapenos battered, fried and served with ranch dressing. The batter is light and almost reminds me of tempura. This is a great appetizer with a little heat and the addition of red peppers adds a little variety to the look of the dish. This got a thumbs up from Lucas.

We take our time at the Little Waldorf. We enjoy our appetizer of Bottlecaps, red and green jalapenos deep fried in a very light batter, and drinks while waiting for our meal. I am always fascinated by the mind of a thirteen-year-old boy. He can switch from talking about why is there still racism to fart jokes to his desire to learn to play Paganini on his violin to why he thinks the Dodge Viper is the best car in the world to why he thinks mechanical webbing is a better idea than organic webbing in the “Spider-Man” films in the span of a few sentences. He talks about what he is learning in history class; the Second Industrial Revolution. I mention that I am studying the same subject in my economic history of the United States class, but with a focus on the economics of the era. Our Sunday lunch is an open forum.

After lunch, we usually go shopping. Sometimes he needs new clothes, which he is surprisingly good a choosing for a boy his age. But usually we travel to the Barnes & Noble and Best Buy on South Virginia Street. We take time looking at books. He looks at historical fiction. I look at comic books.

At five o’clock, it is time for the good times to end. We go back to my apartment. He picks up his things and I take him back to his mother’s. Our Sunday travel is not elaborate and hardly exciting, but it is our time together.

It is an opportunity for Lucas to act a little more like an adult and for me to act a little less like one. I know my time is short. Another year or two and he will be more interested in girls, sports and whatever the hell kids are into these days. The writing is on the wall. I will be irrelevant, at least for a while. And the Little Waldorf will just be a restaurant on Virginia Street that I used to go to with my teenage son.

Text and photos Copyright © Paul George 2012

The Sourdough Burger ($9.49) includes a spicy mustard and grilled onions. Another great choice at the Little Waldorf!

The Sourdough Burger ($9.49) includes a spicy mustard and grilled onions. Another great choice at the Little Waldorf!

The Great Bacon Burger ($9.79) featured, well, you guessed it, bacon. Lucas loved it.

The Great Bacon Burger ($9.79) featured, well, you guessed it, bacon. Lucas loved it.