The Kabooooom staff may all love pop culture, but we all have different tastes. In Kabooooom! Hangouts, a new ongoing discussion feature, we bring together our different points of view and talk about the today’s hottest comics, television shows and movies. The end result is an opinionated, informative, thought-provoking and – hopefully – amusing conversation. Enjoy.
Marcus Hammond: To kick off our inaugural Kabooooom! Hangout we’re discussing Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. So, ya’ll want to talk about TASM 2?
Sarah Moran: Yeah, let’s talk TASM 2.
Rush Urbalejo: YES, LET’S.
Isabel Hsu: Maybe we can just start with general opinions – like or dislike – so we can see what we’re working with here.
Sarah: Good idea, initial impressions first. Your really general opinion… go!
[WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW]
Rush: I thought the flick was entertaining but WAY too crowded.
Marcus: I disliked it as a comic guy and a movie guy, but I also found aspects of it entertaining.
Sarah: I was generally entertained, which is surprising because it is very clunky and overcrowded
Isabel: I strongly disliked it. Just putting that out there now.
Rush: There is definitely a difference between “good” and “entertaining”.
Isabel: If the movie was meant to be a feature-length dubstep music video with some smattering of story to move it along, then yeah, it was great. A Spider-Man movie? Not so much.
Sarah: Oh good! So we’ve got a nice spectrum here. This is a surprisingly divisive movie! I thought the dubstep was totally ridiculous. The whole soundtrack, in fact, was weird.
Rush: Especially when Electro was on screen!
Isabel: I’ve read lots of reviews comparing the movie to the Joel Schumacher Batman movies. I’d agree. Despite the perfectly competent special effects, the whole thing just felt dated.
Rush: Agreed! I’d even compare it to Raimi’s third.
Sarah: TASM 2 was very much a step back to a brighter, more cartoonish superhero movie.
Rush: After Marvel set the bar, though, I don’t know how many cartoonish superhero movies will be super successful.
Isabel: Aw, man. I adore Raimi’s Spider-Man 1 and 2. I don’t think that all superhero movies need to be so dark and serious, but at the same time, Webb’s TASM 2 was treading camp territory.
Sarah: Now, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, and at times TASM 2 did it well. I really loved how goofy, funny, quippy Parker/Spidey was, but that in itself is very comic booky-cartoony
Rush: Agreed! Spidey SHOULD be funny!
Marcus: So with our diverse opinions, my first question is about the story overall. Marc Webb took on a time honored storyline in “The Death of Gwen Stacy”. It’s one of the foundational blocks of the Amazing Spider-Man story. Was it a good idea to bring such a foundational point to life?
Isabel: I actually think Gwen Stacy’s death was one of the more well-done aspects of the movie, on a base level. On a overarching franchise level, it upsets me, because the Peter Parker/Gwen Stacy relationship was really one of the only redeeming qualities of TASM 1 & 2 so far. To me, at least.
Marcus: So, you have no issue with seeing what’s in the comic book translated to the screen?
Rush: Not at all. I don’t mind movies following the basic storylines and giving a new spin to them.
Isabel: I don’t necessarily think that comic movies need to stick exactly to comic book storylines. But I do strongly believe that the characters need to be faithful to the source.
Sarah: The issue with the story is that there were, like, THREE different stories happening!
Rush: At LEAST!
Sarah: Peter and Gwen, Peter and his Dad, Spidey vs Electro–oh! then let’s force Harry Osborn turning into the Green Goblin, too!
Isabel: Yeah, way too many subplots going on, with no actual satisfying payoff for any of them.
Rush: As a matter of fact, I agree with Isabel, on the Stacy death, I mean.
Sarah: Agreed, Rush. Her death was handled surprisingly well, though I’ll say it was made very obvious throughout the movie. I almost thought they wouldn’t off her because it was made so apparent they would.
Rush: That’s because we knew it was coming. I went with people who had NO knowledge of the storyline and they were still shocked with her death
Isabel: Ha. That’s sad.
Marcus: I saw some criticism that Webb was dumb for killing Gwen due to Garfield and Stone’s chemistry. Clearly they had no clue about what was going on. I like when comic movies stay true to the original but make it different, if that makes sense.
Rush: Of course!
Marcus: So the one thing I really loved in the movie was her actual death.
Sarah: From a setup or technical aspect? I have to say I technically like how they did it, yet at the same time I feel weird for saying I really like how they killed that girl.
Marcus: I liked the execution. We were all expecting Green Goblin to toss her off the bridge though, right? Webb has this touching lovey moment on the bridge and then drops her in a bell tower, where Peter misses saving her by a millimeter.
Sarah: Come on! They were standing on bridge announcing their love to one another! I was almost positive it would happen right then. Thankfully, it didn’t.
Rush: How touching was it, though, really?
Marcus: Okay, I think it was meant to be touching. I’d like to confess my love for my wife on top of a bridge. I am deathly afraid of heights, though.
Rush: Yes, but that whole scene was super rushed and convenient!
Sarah: The whole third act was rushed and convenient! But you can see how Webb was also the guy who directed 500 Days of Summer. Garfield and Stone are great together.
Isabel: Both are great actors. I just wish they had a better script to work with.
Rush: Stone is ALWAYS wonderful.
Sarah: Right… Can she come back as Mary Jane?
Rush: Why did she have to leave TODAY? They didn’t necessarily need to kill her in this one. They could have saved it for the third.
Marcus: In the KC Star they said that if Wolverine: Origins is the worst comic movie ever, then TASM 2 is the second worst.
Sarah: I’ve heard some throwing around the term “Iron Man 2 syndrome” and it basically means this movie is hurt by having the burden of needing to begin building Sony’s own superhero universe. Which is what’s happening with their plans for a Sinister Six movie.
Isabel: The thing is, though, that Sony only has Spidey. No other heroes. Just the villains. So these are becoming less of Spidey movies and more of villain movies.
Sarah: Agreed! They’ll need to start digging to get something to rival the Avengers, X-Men, JL, etc.
Isabel: Sony’s film division is just a tiny fraction of the company as a whole. The studio’s really grasping for a tentpole franchise.
Rush: The villain movies could be interesting if the villains weren’t laughable. Rhino was SUPER silly.
Sarah: I know Paul Giamatti was having a blast, but they really didn’t need him or that character in this movie.
Isabel: I agree. It was corny. I love Giamatti but didn’t care for his role.
Marcus: Did you guys look up the scene that was only available if you Shazamed the end credits song?
Isabel: Okay, I think this whole Shazam thing is ridiculous, to be honest.
Marcus: Thank you, Isabel.
Sarah: It is. Who the hell actually Shazams… anything!
Marcus: No one, Sarah. No one.
Isabel: Sony is trying something new with the Shazam thing, which is commendable… but then it made me feel like I paid $20 for a movie ticket and saw a feature-length commercial instead.
Sarah: Was this the extended look at the “Special Projects” basement?
Rush: It was six images, right?
Marcus: Yeah. It was such a cheap ploy by Sony to push a product.
Sarah: Well, what was revealed? Exactly?
Marcus: So in the scene, it alludes to The Vulture, Mysterio, Kraven the Hunter, Doc Ock…
Sarah: Oh right! I did see this.
Rush: Six images, each an obscure reference to the Sinister Six.
Rush: By the way, I really hope that’s Mysterio and not Chameleon.
Sarah: Okay, well we agree that had this movie stuck with a simpler plot, more focus on Peter and Gwen and maybe only one villain, Electro, it would have been a much better film, yes?
Rush: Yes… and no. Electro wasn’t the best villain. Was I the only one who felt Foxx based his Dillon on Jim Carrey’s Ed Nigma?
Marcus: I was thinking he based it on Emperor Palpatine… Electro was awful.
Sarah: I find he was underdeveloped, and could have been much better. The whole put upon loser angle who then gets super powers but isn’t greeted like a hero could have been fun. Sadly, TASM 2 chose not to take it that route and after the Time Square scene go straight for kill Spider-Man routine.
Isabel: I think Jamie Foxx is a fantastic performer, but he has too much charisma to pull off nerdy Max Dillon. I didn’t buy it. Also, it becomes ironically sad in a way… Spider-Man is now a hero who beats up nerds. Speaking of Electro… this is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 “Electro Edition” Blu-Ray set:
Marcus: There is no way I want smurf Jamie Foxx on my shelf. Veiny smurf.
Sarah: I’m going to have nightmares now, thanks.
Isabel: Who the hell thought it’d be a good idea to make these?
Marcus: I hope Jamie Foxx has one on his mantle.
Rush: Of COURSE he does. Bottom line, they needed to focus on ONE story, flesh it out, and give us HINTS at the Sinister Six, not try to shove three into one movie.
Marcus: Exactly, Rush.
Sarah: So our other film villain, Green Goblin? How much did he suck ’cause I really hated everything about him. Design. Awful. Development. None. So any sympathy I had for him? Nada.
Rush: I think the actor who played him was wonderful. I hated his storyline, though.
Marcus: I didn’t mind him, in the sense that if he was the focus of the development it would have been good.
Isabel: Yeah. Dane DeHaan is really great in other movies, but everything about Green Goblin in TASM 2 is just… blech.
Sarah: I actually didn’t really care for DeHaan. I didn’t think he and Garfield had any chemistry.
Isabel: I love how the story just conveniently sent Harry Osborn to boarding school. Oh, but it’s cool, because he and Peter are still BFFs.
Sarah: Exactly! This is a relationship Raimi built over three movies! I’d be interested in the first few drafts of this script. What was there first? If they knew they were doing the Stacy storyline, then Goblin was always in there, right?
Rush: So, Harry’s dad has like 50 years to find a cure for his weird disease, but Harry has only, like, three days?
Sarah: I know! Why was he freaking out so much?
Rush: I just thought the story was weak. Not only was he freaking out, but he had an entire scientific complex at his disposal yet decided to just go with the venom without testing? Seriously?
Marcus: If they wanted to do the death of Gwen Stacy, they should have worked within the confines and stuck with Green Goblin as the villain.
Isabel: What do you guys think about Sony’s plan to put out one new Spidey-verse movie every year?
Rush: NOT A GREAT IDEA,
Marcus: Exactly. Horrible idea.
Sarah: Yikes! They need their universe on more solid footing before that can happen. These two films together are shaky.
Marcus: Over saturation.
Rush: The movies have been declining at the box office ever since Raimi’s first, haven’t they? The first movie was an event.
Marcus: So I have a kind of weird question that I was pondering about Spidey….
Rush: Ponder away!
Marcus: There’s a dichotomy in the movie with Ben’s power and responsibility speech along with Captain Stacy’s “stay away from my daughter” concept. Did that dichotomy work well as it tugged at Peter, or was it just overplayed emotional angst?
Rush: I don’t think it was overplayed. It was in the background of his mind, obviously, but Ben wasn’t really a part of the movie.
Marcus: To me it’s always there because that made him Spider-Man.
Rush: You knew he was thinking it but they didn’t burden the audience with flashbacks or voice-overs.
Sarah: I guess I’m still a little lost on the film’s message. Like, is Gwen’s death a punishment? She didn’t listen to her dad, and now she’s dead?
Isabel: Poor Captain Stacy. His death was in vain.
Rush: No, I think Peter needed to realize there would ALWAYS be that threat, no matter what.
Sarah: And I know that’s the message of the comic, I think, but it’s sloppy in the movie.
Marcus: Yeah, I just think it was a little much to connect the first movie to the second. Especially since he sees Captain Stacy everywhere and then is like “Screw it [make out].”
Isabel: I had that thought too, Sarah. Gwen has a tremendous amount of agency, which is wonderful to see in male-dominated comic movies (and blockbusters in general), but she still ended up dead. This whole death of Gwen Stacy just… reeks of inevitability. It depresses me.
Rush: She ended up dead because SHE decided to throw herself in a dangerous situation. She wasn’t kidnapped like a damsel in distress. She had that independence, knew what she wanted, and not even Peter could tell her otherwise.
Sarah: That is true, she definitely chooses it, and I wonder what I’d be thinking if Peter forced her to stay but in the end she doesn’t die.
Marcus: And that aspect I loved as a strong female character representation. Because in the comic she was kidnapped.
Sarah: So there’s a nice change. In 2014, girls get to choose to die!
Rush: By the way, how incompetent did she think Peter was? He couldn’t push a button on his own?
Isabel: A+ for you, Peter Parker.
Rush: I think it would have been better for the story if Gwen had died the same as the comics. I wanted Peter to wonder if he killed her.
Isabel: It would’ve added that extra complexity, which could have been cool for the character. But Sony’s attitude seems like they just want to move on and push out more new stuff.
Rush: I know Sony thinks Mary Jane is the favorite, but…
Marcus: Yeah. Gwen was gold because of Stone, which we’ve said.
Sarah: Her death was unavoidable, that is clear. Fans would not let them live it down otherwise.
Isabel: But then again, comic book fans are only a small fraction of the general movie-going audience. Sony doesn’t care about pleasing comic fans, nor do they have any practical reason to do so. But for all of TASM 2‘s faults, at the very least, Gwen Stacy > Raimi’s Mary Jane.
Rush: Gwen is definitely the stronger character.
Marcus: Yes. Agreed.
Sarah: Yes! I like Garfield more than Maguire, too.
Rush: Yeah, he doesn’t make faces like he’s made out of dead clay. Tobey always has the ugliest looks on his face.
Sarah: How can their central casting be so much better, but their finished films always only kind of only okay… Let’s see, what did we LIKE about TASM 2?
Isabel: The leads.
Rush: Garfield’s quips are pure Spidey (maybe a touch of Deadpool).
Sarah: He is a little cocky, and I like that. I gotta say, the way they visually realized Spider-Man really was incredible.
Rush: Yes, the effects were…. wait for it… AMAZING. They lent themselves VERY well to 3D.
Sarah: I bet, and I only saw it 2D.
Rush: The movie was a lot of fun for my eyes.
Sarah: Too bad it wasn’t better, because I’d pay to see it again to see some of those shots in IMAX 3D.
Isabel: It was visually cool, but some of the set pieces and action sequences made me feel like I was watching a video game. A really cool, next-gen video game, yes, but still a video game.
Sarah: The constant slow-mo gave me that vibe, too.
Marcus: I sorta dislike it when movies have that vibe, and then I go play the game and the exact same scenes are in it.
Rush: Holy crap, someone is playing the Spider-Man games?
Marcus: How do I always end up being the pariah?
Isabel: I will defend those Spider-Man video games if I need to.
Sarah: The weird thing is, at the end of the day, I did still find myself enjoying it while watching it. Sure, I was laughing at much of its ridiculousness, but maybe I had given up on it being anything like The Winter Soldier or even The Avengers by that point.
Marcus: Yeah. I feel like those two movies set the bar pretty high.
Rush: The leads, the Stacy/Parker story, and the effects were definitely the highlights of TASM 2.
Sarah: I am really shocked by those calling this the worst superhero movie ever, or saying it’s worse than Spider-Man 3 for instance. Because I DID NOT enjoy that movie while watching it.
Rush: No, this was still very entertaining. Again, there is a difference between “good” and “entertaining”.
Marcus: I don’t go into comic movies with high expectations. It is definitely not worse that Spider-Man 3, and have they seen the Ghost Rider movies?
Rush: Okay, Spirit of Vengeance was f’n HILARIOUS!
Isabel: Can I just point out that Electro played the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” in dubstep? That pretty much sums it up.
Sarah: Again, who did the sound design for this movie!? They are at fault for a lot!
Rush: Yeah, WTF was “Itsy Bitsy Spider” doing there?
Isabel: Hans Zimmer did the score. I’m not joking.
Rush: Still drunk from that Man of Steel money, I guess.
Marcus: At least Spidey didn’t pee web, like Ghost Rider pees fire.
Isabel: Electro does barf up electricity, though.
Sometimes natural conversation can uncover the depth of our opinions. We all clearly agree the movie was clunky. There’s a resounding sentiment that there was too much going on, and the jam-packed plot distracted from its few really good aspects. One of which our consensus proves was Emma Stone, a bright spot in the fog that Marc Webb presented. Also, a clear division on whether or not Spider-Man video games are worth our time may create awkwardness at the next staff meeting.
What did you think of The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Worst superhero movie ever or a bold step for Sony’s Spider-Man franchise? Let us hear from you in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out our full review.