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Why Does Spider-Man 2 Work So Much Better Than Amazing Spider-Man 2?

ScreenCrush has shared this video comparing two scenes from Spider-Man 2 and the Amazing Spider-Man 2, in order to illustrate why the first is “a careful character study disguised as an action-packed blockbuster” while the second is merely “a Sony executive’s checklist.” Now, you may be one of the few viewers who preferred Marc Webb’s Amazing reboot to Sam Raimi’s trilogy; if so, this video might not be for you.

Narrator Ryan Arey walks through the setup, technical aspects, and payoff for the subway scene from Spider-Man 2 and the Rhino scene in Amazing Spider-Man 2. In the Spider-Man 2 scene, argues Arey, the space and stakes of the scene are clear, Peter Parker’s character arc has been established, and the dynamics of the crowd and the villain give the scene emotional weight. In Amazing-Spider Man 2, however, none of that work has been done in the lead-up to the scene.

Arey looks at many elements of these scenes, but his analysis of the respective character arcs really stuck out for me. “In Spider-Man 2,” he explains. “Peter quits being Spider-Man for thirty-four minutes. That’s one-quarter of the film. So when he returns, it’s a real relief. In the Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter has quit being Spider-Man for eight minutes.” His return, therefore, simply feels “inevitable.”

Arey admittedly tries a little too hard with the punchlines and meme references here. (The “bad parenting”/”worst mom” and Harambe jokes are particularly tired and the worst.)

However, I still found the side-by-side walk-through illuminating. It’s easy enough to spot the corporate, franchise-first influence on Amazing Spider-Man 2 – even if you enjoyed the film – but for me, it’s trickier to see how it’s happening on a scene-by-scene level. This video is an excellent illustration of how all the small choices in a film can crescendo to either a mediocre scene or a meaningful one.

(Via io9; image via ScreenCrush)

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