I really hate it when movies frustrate me this much.
I’ve gone on record almost too many times to count about how Spider-Man is my favorite superhero. While I will always have faults with the character, but I still point to him as the best the comic book medium has to offer in terms of spandex.
I’ve also gone on record with my “less-than-enthused” reaction to the 2012 reboot of the Spider-Man film franchise. While it had its moments, (thanks in large part to the infectious chemistry of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as well as a new wise-cracking Spidey) it came off as a rushed, soulless mess made for the pure sake of keeping the franchise within Sony’s grasp and out of Marvel Studios’.
Sadly while it wasn’t as bad as the last movie, there is still quite a bit more improvements that could be made to the latest cinematic adventure of Old Web Head.
“We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important conflict has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that his greatest battle is about to begin. It’s great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.” – IMDb.com
As always let’s start out with the good. First off, this movie is leaps and bounds better than first installment of the reboot Spidey franchise thanks in large part to the origin story well out of the way. This at least feels like a Spider-Man movie.
Andrew Garfield continues to be above the material he is given, and he is by far the best Spider-Man to grace the big screen. I want you to note that I said Spider-Man and not Peter Parker however. When he is in the suit, Garfield brings the character to life in the exact ways that you would want him to. Spider-Man has always been a character that always separated himself from a majority of the pack by being a true hero of the people. I loved all of the little scenes with Garfield just being Spider-Man and stopping smaller crimes. I also love Spidey as a wise-cracking annoyance who never shuts the fuck up meaning he doesn’t just beat criminals up; he gets under their skin by frustrating them. We only got glimpses of that aspect in the Sam Rami films, but in this new series it is on full display and quite possibly the biggest improvement overall.
Emma Stone is also once again does a quality job as Gwen Stacy. He scenes with Garfield are some of the best in the film if only for the palpable chemistry between the two. Gwen isn’t the constant damsel in distress like Mary Jane was in the Rami trilogy. She actually participates in the action to the best of her ability.
And while it is far from perfect, I’ll at least give Jamie Foxx a pass in terms of effort. He is trying his damndest to sell Electro as a good villain. While the writing of the character ultimately falls short, I would say at least when Foxx is in the make-up and his voice has been tinkered with, Electro at least looks and sounds cool. His coolness wained when I realized he has the EXACT same backstory as the Riddler from ‘Batman Forever’ however.
The rest of the cast barely registers sadly as the movie feels the need to keep up pace.
The action is stepped up quite a bit this time around as well with a spectacular fight scene taking place in Times Square that movie never really comes close to topping. (Unfortunately this sequence is about half-way through the movie.) The stuff with Paul Giamatti’s Rhino was also pretty fun, and harkened back to classic Spider-Man comics. I appreciated Giamatti’s scene chewing as well. Since he barely registered as a villain, I found it appropriate to have this silly side-story with an over-the-top stereotype.
While a lot of people seem pretty divided on the Hans Zimmer composed and Pharrell Williams produced score, I actually dug it for the most part. Beyond that stupid Phillip Phillips song rearing its ugly head, I think everything worked. Hell, I even dug the dubstep/whisper of the Electro theme. At least it was memorable.
Some of the fan service was cool as well, but kind of just felt like Sony scrambling to build a cinematic universe to rival big brother Marvel’s. (Note to Sony: Spider-Man is never going to have as viable a universe with just Venom and the Sinister Six to fall back on.)
This leads me to my (numerous) complaints about the film. Get comfortable, folks. We are going to be here for a bit.
For a movie that is over two hours, this went by really quickly and I do not mean that in a good way. Everything feels rushed with the direct consequence being that none of the bigger character moments feeling earned or appropriately heavy. It is incredibly frustrating to have Sony making the same mistakes they made with Spider-Man 3. THE. EXACT. MISTAKES.
I give no fucks about the backstory with Peter’s parents or the Oscorp conspiracy. I can’t even say if either of those elements were cut out the movie would be better as it essential to the plot thread these movies are build upon. I feel bad for director Marc Webb who has to adhere to all of that bullshit while the guys over at Marvel are like, “Yeah we have a connected narrative, but we don’t build each movie on it.” Take the recent Captain America sequel. That movie was phenomenal and played into a bigger universe as it should because the Marvel MCU works. There are a lot of moving parts. A Spider-Man cinematic universe does not work. It would work in the higher context of an MCU. That would actually give it the space it needs to actually contain some substance with competent narrative thread (pun totally intended) and actually some investment. But when you confine it like this, the only thing we have are a fuck-ton of contrived conveniences (all of the villains are made by Oscorp!).
Also can I add that I LOATHE the “revelation” that the Spider DNA was tailored to Peter? It’s one of the dumbest moves since midichlorians. There is dumb, and then there is DUMB. Speaking of dumb…
The character of Harry Osborn. Holy shit. I thought the Rami movies did a sub-par job handling his character with the whole amnesia bullshit. Then I saw….this.
What is this? Why? Can we not have a decent looking Green Goblin in a movie? The last one looked like a fucking Power Rangers villain and now we get…Jager pilot Gollum?!
Anyway, back to the character. He basically registers as this movie’s Venom which means he is a completely unnecessary villain that only serves to drag on the story for the sake of recognizably and fan service. Even pre-Goblin, Harry is possibly one of the most annoying characters I’ve seen in a movie in quite some time. I am a fan of actor Dane DeHaan. He’s done some phenomenal work in movies like ‘Chronicle’ and ‘Kill Your Darlings.’ I place no blame on him, or at least not a lot. The character is just so poorly written. I got no sense of him and Peter being life-long friends, and the screenwriters never really give us a reason to buy it either. All of the scenes he has with Andrew Garfield are flat or uncomfortable. His motivations make about as much sense as Electro’s…meaning not at all. (“I hate Spider-Man because I did the thing he told me not to do, but I did it anyway, and then it blew up in my face. Now I’m going to show up at the end of the movie for no reason. HEHEHEHE.”)
It’s no secret who dies in this film, (the marketing department has made it abundantly clear through the numerous television ads and trailers) but for the 4 people who are not aware I will not spoil it here. It is a direct lifting of one of the most iconic deaths in comic book history so it is kind of hard to classify it as a spoiler anyway, but who am I to judge people that have never read a comic? I digress. My point is, this death should feel bigger and a hell of a lot more heavy than the film grants it. Props for actually making said scene tense, but I don’t think it felt earned. Especially in this movie.
Needless to say, I did not think this was a great movie. Hell, I struggle to say it was even a good movie. I’ll settle on saying it was mediocre at best with some above average elements in it. I really don’t care for the direction Sony is taking this franchise anymore, and I find that sad. I want to care about Spider-Man, but until they get some competent writers to put together a story worth telling, my interest turns to former “B-level” characters like Iron Man and Captain America.