I have a problem…
See, I’ll find out about an upcoming movie, I’ll read the stories written by breathless fanboys and interviews of actors and directors, and watch every trailer and clip I can get my grubby little paws on. And all this time, my expectations grow larger and larger until I’m convinced that what I’ll soon be watching transcends film, that I’ll experience something so momentous, that it will change my life forever and make the world a better place. And then the movie will get here and – at best – I’ll think “meh… there’s two hours I won’t get back.” At worst? I’ll need to retire to a dark room and ponder the complete chaotic insanity of a world where Ridley Scott can’t decide on a single, sensible plot line and Charlize Theron can only run in a straight line.
Every now and then, though, the opposite happens. I’ll see the trailers and get a little worried. I’ll read the reviews and the expectations will drop. And I’ll go see the movie anyway because …well, you never know, I could be surprised. Most of the time I’m not, the movie is as bad as advertised. Rarely, something will happen. Sometimes something about the movie will grab my hands, flutter it’s eyelashes, and I’m hooked, despite the crossed eyes, gigantic Adam’s apple, and hairy legs.
And such is the case with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I worried as they added villains like a lonely old lady with good credit buying Franklin Mint collectables. I fretted when they wasted some excellent Easter Eggs showing the Vulture suit and Doc Ock’s arms during the trailer, and when the first reviews came out (including this excellent one from BiffBamPopper Andy Burns) describing plot holes big enough to lose a Helicarrier, I sighed and thought, “oh well, I’m sure Days of Future Past will be awesome.”
But I still watched the movie, though… because it’s Spidey, and he’s been my guy since I first heard the theme song on the “Electric Company” over forty years ago. I owed it to him to at least take in the matinee, purchase my $10 trough of popcorn, and watch the debacle unfold. A funny thing happened though… the debacle never appeared.
Don’t get me wrong. The plot holes were there, the movie frankly bordered on silly at times, but somehow it worked for me. Somehow this combination of silly and sweet, teasing and tense drew me in, and judging by the audience reaction, drew others as well. I couldn’t get enough of Gwen and Peter, that palpable chemistry that others have already mentioned, almost carried the movie by itself. But I also couldn’t get enough of Sally Field as Aunt May; I loved her in the first remake, but she was absolutely fierce in ASM2; and the scenes where she says that he is her boy gave me chills. The villains were just OK, but they had some nice touches and foreshadowing throughout the movie. (Did anyone catch how often Harry shared the screen with a twisted, almost goblinesque reflection of himself?). I usually think it’s the villains who carry a great superhero movie, but in this case, it was all Spidey… the way he moved, his quips and bon mots, the sheer enjoyment he felt at doing what he can do. I wasn’t crazy about Andrew Garfield’s portrayal in the first Amazing Spider-Man, but he’s grown on me, and I think ultimately he’s captured the spirit of the spider better than anyone else.
And that’s what I think I enjoyed most about this movie… perhaps more than any of our recent resurgence of comic inspired film, ASM2 captures the essence of the comics. I realized after watching the film, alternating between laughter and groans and a few moments of watery eyes (damn allergies) that this may have been the most “comic booky” movie I’ve watched ever. Were there plot holes? Sure, but the base material once featured a plot that included our darling Gwen having sex with Norman Osborne and giving birth to twins that apparently NO ONE noticed! The huge plot holes are what make comics such ridiculous fun.
So did going in with lowered expectations help? Absolutely, but I wonder if it also opened my eyes a little and made me discover what I should have been looking for in the first place: the silly joy of that five year old me watching Spidey on the old rabbit-eared RCA. The kid with no expectations who just wanted to watch his hero do the impossible. And I wonder if some of the fans who were so disappointed with the film this time around were to watch again with those same lowered expectations, if they would discover it to.
Or maybe it was just all that popcorn.