Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spider-Man 2 (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Amazing Spider-Man 2”
Swings into Theaters

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

A few years back I donated my No. 1 issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man” to a college library. Yes, I think it was literature, of sorts. While my ol’ friend Stan Lee didn’t realize he was doing anything more than cranking out comic books, he inadvertently created an archetype -- establishing the mantra that “With great power must also come great responsibility!”

How do I know it’s literature? Because Voltaire said it first.

That’s what comic books are all about, retelling amazing stories until they’re entrenched in popular culture. Even if you crib from a French philosopher.

Peter Parker (A/K/A Spider-Man), the web-swinging vigilante who serves as the flagship character of Marvel Comics, is back on the big screen in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” It’s now playing at your friendly neighborhood  Tropic Cinema.

Sure, you’ve already seen that second Spider-Man sequel starring Toby McGuire. But this blockbuster, the second outing in the rebooted franchise, stars Andrew Garfield. In comic books, we tend to tell the story over and over. Fans are like children asking their grandfather to reread their favorite bedtime story night after night.

In this retelling, Spidey (Garfield) meets up with the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), his most popular nemesis. When I was publisher of Marvel Comics we used to say a superhero was only as good as the supervillain he faced. And the Goblin’s a good bad guy.

However, just to be sure, in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” director Marc Webb also throws in a sparking Electro (Jamie Foxx) and sets up armor-plated Rhino (Paul Giamatti) for the next sequel.

As the love interest we have Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), but -- no spoiler alert necessary -- every fanboy on the planet knows we killed her off in the comic books.

Here also is the mystery of Peter Parker’s parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz), the couple who left him an orphan when their plane crashed. He now lives with his Aunt May (Sally Field).

So what sets this version of Spider-Man apart from all those movies that came before? The story gets a little more refined with each retelling. And the CGI animation gets better and better, with Spidey’s swinging from building to building on the streets of New York seeming even more realistic. And his battle in Time Square with Electro will knock your socks off.

Stan Lee once told me why he set the Spider-Man stories in New York City instead of some pretend place like Metropolis or Gotham City. “I wanted people to look out their window and almost expect to see Spider-Man come swinging by.”

But I didn’t have to look out my window … because every Friday morning Spidey dropped by my office, leading a parade of kids on a tour of Marvel Comics. Sweet.

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