It’s funny it’s been two years since the first Amazing Spider-Man and we seemed to go through the same angsty nerd thing that happened the first time around. As more and more was revealed the comic community seemed to lose their mind over each reveal. “Oh the Goblin looks stupid, that’s not Electro” and on and on and on. Well the movie has come out and… yeah. Let’s just get into the movie.
Set two years since the last movie Peter Parker’s life seems to be in full swing (ba dum tss). Beloved by the city as Spider-Man he also has the unconditional love of Gwen Stacey. All seems good until he sees Gwen’s father during a police chase. Remembering the promise he made to him at the end of the last movie he breaks up with Gwen. Things are more complicated when after years of being away Harry Osborn returns to see his dying father and takes over Oscorp. Oh and the mystery of his parents still looms over him. And Max Dillon is a crazy stalker that soon gains super powers and becomes Electro. And then Paul Giamatti is around being the Rhino but not really the Rhino and well we can see the first problem already.
Seriously we have at least 3 of the plots could have had their own movie and two were subplots at best. That’s being pretty generous too. Gwen and Harry together would have been great. I mean the two go together perfectly. Electro, as amazingly goofy as it was presented, might have made a decent 4th or 5th entry. Instead he goes from someone Spidey saves to a straight up stalker who’s only excuse that he’s a lonely guy. But even if they wanted to do all of that why include Paul Giamatti as The Rhino? One of the greatest character actors of our time, a man nominated for Golden Globes, Academy Awards, and Independent Spirit awards is utterly wasted for 5 minutes with little to no reason. The Peter’s parents storyline may have been useless but at least it got some time to try and develop. But really none of the plots got enough time to become much of anything.
Electro is probably the best example of this. He’s saved in the opening action scene by Spider-Man and the next time we see him he is obsessed with Spider-Man and thinks they are friends. Then he hates Spider-Man (admittedly executed in a pretty cool way) and decides that the only way to get revenge is to kill him and take over the city by taking all the power. Of the two and a half hours he is given about twenty. Used more as a henchman by Harry he really is given short shrift for the big baddie on the poster. Even the score seems to want to ruin the character. While it can be a bit overbearing throughout the movie they seemed to decide to make it goofier for Electro. They do this thing where they want his internal monologue talks about Spider-Man betrayed him before going into some generic wannabe dubstep. It’s comically bad. Shame because Jamie Foxx can be a good actor and a pretty big badass. Sadly we get less Django and more LaFonda from In Living Color.
The bigger villain seems to be Harry Osborn and him turning into Green Goblin. Unlike pretty much interpretation of Harry we’ve ever had he just kind of comes back and we have to assume he was cool with Peter before. Why even bother doing that when Marc Webb is pretty good at building relationships in his movies? It doesn’t help when you have Dane DeHaan overacting quite a bit. Shame because he I thought he was pretty good in The Place Between The Pines. But really the biggest problem comes with the way Green Goblin looks. All the jokes have been made so I don’t think I need to say it but really just look at him. It’s pretty hard to make Willem DaFoe’s Power Ranger Villain Goblin work but somehow they did it.
For me the best plot was between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey. Once again the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone was great. I don’t know how to say it other than I just thought they were cute together. Now ignoring Denis Leary making a cheap buck their story is actually pretty good. With high school ending and Gwen getting a scholarship to Oxford they break up and Peter is struggling to deal with it. In a movie with genetic splicing, super secret parent disappearances and eels that give superpowers this grounding story works quite a bit. Unlike the last movie Peter isn’t all that douchey. Instead of being a confident hipster he comes off as an angsty hipster which makes sense. He’s dealing with his dying friend, the love of his life leaving and New York crime. Some pretty good reasons to be a bit emo. Instead he generally saves his snark for when he’s Spider-Man which works pretty well. Even his hair is less poofy. His hair still makes Jean-Ralphio feel embarrassed for him but less so this time around.
The other big point in this movie comes from the action scenes. With top level special effects they generally look pretty great. I especially liked how they would use the bullet time effect to show Spider-Man using his webbing to save people. It’s a cool gimmick they use without overusing it. Now I did say most of the action scenes worked for me. The big showdown Spidey has with Electro at the end is pretty bad. Let me rephrase that, it LOOKS pretty bad. I think it’s because we can see Electro’s face but the effect looks extremely fake throughout the whole thing. You can literally spot the difference between fake Electro and Jamie Foxx in make up throughout. I’m sure I’m just being overly critical but it was just distracting.
I didn’t hate The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Like the last movie the action was top notch and I absolutely delighted in Peter and Gwen’s relationship. Sadly that didn’t make up the majority of the movie. Instead we got a bunch some extremely forced villain plots done seemingly to push the idea of the Sinister Six in the next movie. If they can’t handle 2 villains how are they supposed to pull of six? At least we got a pretty good version of Spidey?