Dogtown and Z-Boys in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Photo by Niko Tavernise – © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Let me start off by saying that I don’t recommend seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for any reason. If Spider-Man 2 is the best comic book movie of all time (it’s not, but let’s pretend) then this Spider-Man part 2 is the worst. It’s such a mess that at one point someone says to another character that the room he’s entering is dark and that it’s for the best and that his eyes will adjust, and then the character enters that room and that room is not actually dark at all. There is bright light shining through the window curtains. That’s what little care the filmmakers had, that nobody noticed this literally glaring continuity detail.

There are a lot of other things wrong with the sequel, but this is neither a review nor a place to do a lot of nitpicking. This is place for you to come if you actually did see it and are now in need of some cleansing. You’ll notice that in this week’s Movies to Watch that I recommend a couple not-so-great movies. But they’re still better than ASM2, and where they’re bad they’re at least enjoyably bad.

I’ve selected a group of movies that includes past work by ASM2 talent and past works that did things that ASM2 does, only long ago and more interestingly. There are also a few titles that are directly referenced in ASM2 that you ought to be familiar with if you’re not already. As always, though, there are spoilers here. So you should only continue if you’ve unfortunately seen ASM2 or don’t care about being spoiled.

Superman III

Before Max Dillon turns into Electro, Jamie Foxx seems to be modeling the character on Richard Pryor‘s semi-villainous Gus Gorman from the third Superman movie. He’s not as confident or funny, but his manner of speech and the way he talks to himself is very reminiscent of that other mostly disliked performance (personally I like Gorman and I didn’t mind Dillon as much as most did).

Rent it on iTunes or Amazon Instant Video.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

After his accident, that character eventually becomes almost pure electricity, able to shoot wiring, though also able to manifest into a physical being when he wants to. He’s straight out of the second Gremlins movie, a redo of the cooler-looking electricity gremlin. And the monster became that way in an Oscorp-type lab in which another becomes a spider-gremlin. As far as I can remember, there was no rhino gremlin.

Buy the Blu-ray.

The Incredibles

Like Max Dillon/Electro, the Pixar character Syndrome also started out as an obsessively huge fan of the superhero he’d later become enemies against. Superheroes: be wary of your #1 fan, as he’ll likely later become your #1 nemesis.

Rent it on iTunes or Amazon Instant Video.

Batman Returns

Another character who goes “from nobody to nightmare,” as the trope is called, is Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Tim Burton’s Batman sequel, a movie that I’ve already pointed out also does a better job than ASM2 with the multiple villain thing. Batman also saves her before she becomes his adversary, just like Spider-Man does with Max.

Watch it on Encore On Demand.

Chronicle

Not only does this found footage movie have a nobody-to-nightmare, but that character is played by ASM2‘s Dane DeHaan, apparently back when he knew how to act (why does he talk like Keanu Reeves in the new movie?). This time, though, DeHaan is playing another type, the guy who becomes a monster thanks to his own greed. Too bad he couldn’t have stuck with Chronicle‘s director, Josh Trank and been cast in The Fantastic Four, which can only end up being the better movie at this point.

Rent it on Vudu.

Swamp Thing

DeHaan’s Harry Osborn believes that the radioactive spider venom can save his life — or at least make him like Spider-Man, I guess? So he injects the same venom into his body, but because it’s made for Parkers only (what an odd circumstantial twist) he turns into a goblin-y freak. We can go back 34 years for another comic book movie villain who also turns into a monster due to his attempt to use the hero’s own healing formula and the plan backfiring. Swamp Thing may be cheaper and cheesier, but at least Louis Jourdan is entertaining in his millionaire mad scientist role.

Rent it on iTunes or Amazon Instant Video.

Cold Souls

Paul Giamatti plays Aleksei Sytsevich, a Russian criminal who, thanks to a tattoo around his dome, looks like he’s had his brains removed. In Cold Souls, he plays “himself,” an actor who has to go to Russia to retrieve his soul, which has been removed. In the latter,  he doesn’t wind up in ridiculous rhino-shaped armor. But as a man of the theater, I bet he’d be into performing in the Ionesco play “Rhinoceros.”

Rent it on iTunes.

xXx

You wouldn’t think the maniacal doctor who’s in ASM2 for just a few minutes doing his best bad maniacal doctor impression would need to be played by an actor as well-situated in Hollywood as Marton Csokas is. But yep, that’s the familiar actor from The Lord of the Rings, Aeon Flux, The Bourne Supremacy, Alice in Wonderland, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and so much more. Your best bet to see him actually do good work is probably way back with Broken English, but I have a soft spot for this Vin Diesel-led extreme spy movie and the baddie Csokas plays there. I was especially reminded of the scene below.

Stream on Netflix Watch Instantly or rent on iTunes or Amazon Instant Video.

Dogtown and Z-Boys

In this movie, we don’t see Peter skateboard, but we know he’s still into skating. How? Well, he wears a Thrasher t-shirt and he has that Dogtown and Z-Boys poster on his wall. Thankfully the production designers went with that and not Lords of Dogtown, even though this is a remake’s world.

Stream on Netflix Watch Instantly or rent on iTunes or Amazon Instant Video.

Blow-Up

Peter’s other poster — that the production designer thought he’d like — is for Michelangelo Antonioni‘s movie about a photographer. God forbid he’d like a movie that isn’t associated with his recreational and professional interests [looks around at my movie posters to see if any of them are about movies or beer — nope]. Anyway, all I thought about after seeing that poster is how I’d prefer an Antonioni-directed Spider-Man. Fans would hate it, of course, because Peter wouldn’t be wisecracking.

Rent on iTunes or Amazon Instant Video.

Hype!

Another documentary for you guys. This is director Marc Webb’s first IMDb credit, as a post production assistant. He worked for filmmaker Doug Pray in the 1990s after meeting him sort of randomly at Sundance, where Webb was volunteering, and bonding over having the same hometown. On Hype! he was in charged of music clearances, and during his employment Pray also taught Webb how to edit.

Rent the DVD from Netflix.

The Hudsucker Proxy

There are a few movies out there with climactic fights inside of clock towers. Even at least one other based on a comic book. But The Hudsucker Proxy has the most perfect parallels in that it has two guys fighting around clockworks while another character nearly falls to his death but is saved by something being jammed into the gears. Fortunately in this movie that other character doesn’t wind up dead anyway.

Rent from iTunes or Amazon Instant Video.


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