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Non-Review Review: The Amazing Spider-Man II

What is remarkable about Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man II is how much it resembles a comic book. Not a particular comic book – although there are numerous shout-outs to iconic Spider-Man moments, right down to the choice of costuming – but in general terms. It isn’t that Marc Webb tries to construct his film to evoke the look and feel of a comic book – this isn’t Ang Lee’s Hulk; in fact, Webb seems much more comfortable here than he was with The Amazing Spider-Man, making a movie that feels more playful and relaxed within its medium.

Instead, The Amazing Spider-Man II borrows the structure of a comic book. It offers its own story, but that story isn’t constructed particularly tightly. Instead, the story seems to have been fashioned as part of a greater – as if part of a larger serialised narrative that has yet to take form. It’s quite distinct from the approach taken with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, where the films feel more like blocks that fit together. Instead, this feels more like the second chapter in a larger story, without being dissolved completely into the larger narrative.

The Amazing Spider-Man II has its own themes and motifs, and it documents a pretty epic selection of events, but the emphasis isn’t so much on this one encounter as what this encounter says about its hero. It’s much more interested in what these events tell us about our hero than it is in documenting a single self-contained story. It’s a novel (and somewhat bold) attempt at a serialised superhero narrative, and the results are absolutely fascinating.

Electro-fying!

Electro-fying!

Note: This is a spoiler-filled review of The Amazing Spider-Man II. You can find a spoiler-lite version here. Continue reading for more in-depth thoughts on the film, with the knowledge that absolutely everything is up for discussion. Continue at your own peril!

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The Amazing Spider-Man – The Gauntlet: The Rhino – Rage of the Rhino/Endangered Species (Review)

This April, to celebrate the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we are taking a look at some classic and modern comics featuring Spider-Man (and friends). Check back daily for the latest review.

The Gauntlet is structured very carefully. The opening salvo of The Gauntlet is comprised of stories spanning a reasonable number of issues. These aren’t epic six-month-long encounters with classic bad guys. Thanks to the thrice monthly shipping schedule of The Amazing Spider-Man, few of the stories lasted longer than a month of real time. Still, stories like Power to the People, Keemia’s Castle and Mysterioso unfold across a number of issues.

As The Gauntlet races towards its climax, the stories get shorter. We begin to get a series of one-issue interludes, like It is the Life or The Sting. These are shorter, quicker affairs – they create a sense of heightened pace, as if the story is speeding up and gathering momentum as it moves towards its endgame. This is the middle act of The Gauntlet, working from the premise that the stage has been set and the band is engaged.

A smashing success...

A smashing success…

Then, as we push on into the third act of climax of The Gauntlet, we get three extended storylines. Something Can Stop the Juggernaut serves as something of a breather story arc, insulating the events of Shed and Grim Hunt from the rest of The Gauntlet. However, the four-part Shed is very much the climax of The Gauntlet – pushing much of the arc’s tones and themes to their logical endpoint. After that, Grim Hunt is the culmination of it all; a meditation on what this has all been about.

This clever structuring is in evidence for Joe Kelly’s story about the Rhino. The two-issue story arc is structured as two one-shots cleverly split over the course of The Gauntlet. The first part of the story, Rage of the Rhino appears nestled between Keemia’s Castle and Mysterioso. It appears to stand alone. And then, as The Gauntlet gathers pace, Endangered Species hits. And it hits with the power of a freight train.

Building up momentum...

Building up momentum…

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Non-Review Review: The Amazing Spider-Man II

What is remarkable about Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man II is how much it resembles a comic book. Not a particular comic book – although there are numerous shout-outs to iconic Spider-Man moments, right down to the choice of costuming – but in general terms. It isn’t that Marc Webb tries to construct his film to evoke the look and feel of a comic book – this isn’t Ang Lee’s Hulk; in fact, Webb seems much more comfortable here than he was with The Amazing Spider-Man, making a movie that feels more playful and relaxed within its medium.

Instead, The Amazing Spider-Man II borrows the structure of a comic book. It offers its own story, but that story isn’t constructed particularly tightly. Instead, the story seems to have been fashioned as part of a greater – as if part of a larger serialised narrative that has yet to take form. It’s quite distinct from the approach taken with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, where the films feel more like blocks that fit together. Instead, this feels more like the second chapter in a larger story, without being dissolved completely into the larger narrative.

The Amazing Spider-Man II has its own themes and motifs, and it documents a pretty epic selection of events, but the emphasis isn’t so much on this one encounter as what this encounter says about its hero. It’s much more interested in what these events tell us about our hero than it is in documenting a single self-contained story. It’s a novel (and somewhat bold) attempt at a serialised superhero narrative, and the results are absolutely fascinating.

Electro-fying!

Electro-fying!

Note: The Amazing Spider-Man II is probably best seen absolutely blind, with no real information about its themes or the story beats that it might hit. I do try to keep the reviews as spoiler-light as possible (and we do have a spoiler-laden review available for your perusal), but if you are interested in seeing the film – I would recommend avoiding any discussion or review. It is good, if flawed; endearingly ambitious and engagingly bold; it does a lot of great things that excuse some cliché plotting, sacrificing novelty in some areas for storytelling efficiency.

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