In 2008, the words “hope” and “change” became indelibly linked to Barack Obama, the would-be president of perpetual campaigning.
But perhaps they’re not quite so “indelible.”
Might it be time to take the words “hope” and “change” back? To associate them with something other than eight years of a single, controversial presidency?
The biggest movie at the box office this weekend, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” seems to do exactly that, by declaring – perhaps defiantly – ‘”Change’ isn’t just a slogan,” and delivering a storyline all about hope with nary a mention of the Oval Office.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is actually an upgrade from “Amazing 1,” delivering audiences a bit more backstory to build upon the first film, some touching moments with capable acting, some truly funny dialogue and a lead actor who was unleashed to freelance his quick-witted, wise-cracking, charismatic version of Spidey. All the action and 3-D special effects help to cover up the movie’s shortcomings with an end result that’s both entertaining and satisfying.
But more than just a spectacle loaded with costumed superheroes, comic book references and completely impossible “science,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” tries to tell a story about hope – about clinging to it, losing it, being reminded of it and finding it again when we realize just how dependent we are upon it.
To be sure, this isn’t some literary masterpiece on the subject, and it does come off a bit shallow, especially coming from the narration of Spidey girlfriend Gwen Stacy, who the moviemakers give about as much depth of character as a frying pan.
Nonetheless, this is an entertaining, remarkably clean and family-friendly (though violent) story that kids and grown-ups alike can enjoy watching together. The interactions between Spidey’s alter ego, Peter Parker, and Stacy are particularly well done.
And in the end, we get a positive, feel-good message: “There will be dark days, days when you feel all alone. That’s when hope is most needed. … Hold on to hope.
“My wish is for you to become hope [for others],” Stacy tells the audience. “Even if we fail, what better way is there to live?”
Yes, it sounds a bit like pop-psychology platitudes, and perhaps it is, but the film emphasizes its point toward the very end with a poignant scene where an unexpected character stands in the gap when others have lost their hope, a scene not quickly forgotten and reminiscent of a famous confrontation in the real world’s Tiananmen Square.
I’ll say no more to avoid spoiling one of the film’s better scenes.
Yet even if “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” will be long-forgotten by Oscar time, and justifiably so, the film still deserves commendation for creating a fun entertainment option, especially for dads and sons (at least my boys dig Spidey), while delivering a positive message of hope.
- “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” rated PG-13, contains 10 mild profanities and minor obscenities.
- The film is equally mild on sexuality, limited to a few kisses, a couple of shirtless guys, some brief cleavage and a man’s pants dropped to reveal his boxers.
- Violence, however, is another matter, as plenty of fighting, shooting, punching, exploding and various other action-hero moments light up the screen. While blood and gore are largely absent, there are some dramatic deaths depicted.
- The film has no significant religious or occult content, though a few brief mentions make the screen, including a man who states, “I don’t expect forgiveness anymore. … I don’t believe in miracles,” another who claims because of his power, “I will control everything. I will be like a god to them,” a woman who states, “Thank God,” and some songs over the ending credits that mention David, Goliath, God and prayer.