Every now and then I’ll see a film which I want to like or love but wind up despising. Sometimes Out of curiosity I will watch that film again on DVD if there’s an audio commentary and deleted scenes involved. It has to be a steadfast rule with me, though. It has to both. Sure, most of the time I’ll rent from my local library. but free or not, it has to be worth my time. But generally speaking, I’ll watch a bad movie intentionally to hear what was going though people’s minds especially if it is a writer and/or director.
My thoughts on The Amazing Spider-0Man 2 haven’t changed much since last spring. I still find it disappointing to say the least. But I’m also glad I re-watched it with commentary and viewing some deleted scenes. One can ;earn a lot from this stuff and absorb it. That’s even if you think the film is a chunk of mud.
Much was talked about Shailene Woodley being cast as Mary Jane Watson then her character edited out of the film. I wondered if those deleted scenes were on Blu-Ray, they were not on the DVD. From what it appears, it would seem that not much of those scenes were actually filmed. During the commentary with Executive Producer Avi Arad, Producer Matt Tolmach and writers Alex Kurtzman and Jeff Pinker, not much is mentioned about it. But I took note of a few details:
* It was Sony who wanted Felicia Jone’s character, Harry’s secretary to be named ‘Felicia’. This is a possible *and widely assumed) nod to Black Cat. However, in the previous film, the character in the post credits scene was supposed to have been Electro, only now it isn’t. That character is renamed The Gentleman. So this may or may not be The Black Cat character (and I hope it’s not)but the fans are assuming it is.
* A test audience was okay with the death of Gwen Stacy. Specifically parents who thought young children can handle it. Yet it seems the filmmakers think such audiences (or young children) cannot handle Harry becoming the Green Goblin. Let me tell you something right now I think kids would have been okay with the Osborn transformation. I’m willing to bet they would think it was awesome. (Also, it’s in the deleted scenes, so there’s a possibility they might get a peek at it anyway)
* Alex Garfield and Emma Stone have good chemistry. I don’t doubt this, young adult relationships seems to be Marc Webb’s biggest strength. If he didn’t have Spider-Man, imagine what he could do with something like Mortal Instruments or other young adult box office misfires. That said, one of the things that annoyed me in the previous film was the character of Gwen Stacy being borderline contrived. It’s one thing if Peter was an intern or snuck into Oscorp. It’s quite another when Gwen is one of the top researchers and she’s still in High School. Gwen still works for Oscorp, in spite of a top scientist turning into a monster and there are cover ups going on.
* Many plot points were dropped over the editing of the film, but some of them made their way into the trailers, which got our interest in the first place. Reason why they were dropped was for pacing issues. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that. But most of the time, a pickup or ADR line is needed in case those deleted scenes hurt the narrative of the film. That’s what happened in the previous film, where a supporting character was kidnapped by The Lizard and never seen again (a deleted scene “cut for time” explained the plot hole). In this film, a deleted scene shows off not just a Goblin transformation but the exo-suit as ell. It still doesn’t explain the pumpkin bombs (but my theory on that is the filmmakers are using our previous knowledge of the previous franchise so we know that’s “the” Goblin) but had there been a pickup to cover some of this “The Goblin” would not have some out of what seems to be nowhere.
* A great touching moment which I liked in the film, Spider-Man helping out a kid targeted by bullies. It is a great scene. While this isn’t the previous franchise; Peter Parker wasn’t bullied or pranked. it still is something which we can relate to and the fact that this sort of behavior is getting more attention is recent years. So what’s the downside? The ending. Same kid stands up to Rhino who has machine guns, rockets and a metal suit ten feet tall. Everyone watches, nobody runs. It’s kind of like an earlier scene with Electro and a barricaded crowd (as if they expected him to show up) and in that last scene, Spider-Man shows up after a few months off (as we are informed) and the action comes to a stop. The filmmakers and writer “thinks” this was a great idea. It isn’t. It backfires. Unless Rhino isn’t such as bad guy. letting down guard for a turn of remorse and mercy. Spider-Man is more of a fair fight and there’s more of a rematch opportunity.
Which of course, the audience is robbed of. Was The Rhino needed at all? His inclusion was a setup for The Sinister Six, a MAJOR problem with this movie’s marketing. Don’t believe me? Well, okay. Why then, in the marketing of the film, was there a big tease of the Six? Why tweet out a picture of a soundstage with “Sinister Six” on it and get the fanbase worked up over it? Why give us the easter eggs in the endless slew of trailers? They tell us we are getting a spinoff film with the Six and those characters teased at the end credits might not be even in the film.
Add all this up. It almost sounds like the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. That’s exactly what went wrong with this movie – it is a tug of war between camp (Rhino, Electro, the planes and convenience) and serious (Peter,Harry/Goblin and Gwen relations) with threads from the previous film left dangling but just enough for some interest only to be unresolved (mystery of Peter’s parents)The film should have been (and could have been) one or the other. Oddly, I’m siding with what was the best thing about Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. It wasn’t a cool villain (Sandman) but the…wait a minute. what did I just say?
No, I meant that. For the past few years, I am stunned by the outright hate-on Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. It has ts drawbacks, don’t get me wrong. but let’s get a scorecard, shall we? In that film, Harry becomes a mask-less Goblin. He has had some practice on his flying surfboard, has access to pumpkin bombs and such. Yet the strongest highlights of that film is the relationship between Peter, Harry and MJ. Flash foward to now and ASM2. Here we have another talented actor, who becomes a mask-less Goblin who can operate a Glider in less than an hour, laugh like the Goblin and use weapons which he had no prior access to. Strongest arc in the film? The Peter-Gwen-Harry dynamic.
It almost comes across to me that nobody quite has a handle on where to go with this. The franchise is far from in trouble, however, In fact, I’ll make a little bet. Should the S6 project get canned and maybe the Venom solo film and Amazing Spider-Man 3 has those characters…the series will be recast and rebooted once again, probably called Spectacular Spider-Man and then “the fans” will proceed to trash talk all the good things about the past trilogy as if it were all an abomination and yes, I’m also willing to bet someone in the wild screaming with a fist in the air “Give the rights back to Marvel!”
Like that’s going to work.