Also constructive criticism with a dash of snark.
First let me go on record again saying that I enjoyed the first Amazing Spider-Man and liked it much more than I did Rami’s first Spider-Man film, and had high hopes for where the franchise was headed. That was until they started showing trailers for the sequel in which we learn there would be a three villains for Spidey to face while dealing with his ever- complicated romantic life, and the deja vu started setting in. Did Sony learn nothing from Spider-Man 3!?!
Answer: NO. No they didn’t.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 falls pretty far from amazing, because the plot is too congested with too many story arcs happening all at once. Let’s see, we have: Electro obsessed with Spidey. We have Norman Osborn dying and Harry learning he’s going to die. We have Peter learning his father’s secret. We have Peter and Gwen’s relationship problems. We have the Rhino stealing stuff. We have Osborn’s company keeping a lot of secrets and doing shady things. Any one of these story arcs (perhaps two) would have been fine to build a film around, but instead they all get crammed into two hours and twenty minutes, robbing them of any real development. Too many important scenes between characters felt rushed or missing all together. I mean come on, Harry is supposed to be Peter’s childhood best friend and they barely have two scenes together!?! Building their relationship on screen is necessary for the audience to understand how difficult it is for our hero to see his best friend turn into a villain, the monster responsible for the death of Gwen, the love of Peter’s life.
Yeah, so let’s talk about “Green Goblin” in this film while we’re on that subject. The Green Goblin is to Spider-Man what the Joker is to Batman. He’s the hero’s antithesis, and in the comics no villain has ever come close to breaking Peter’s will the way an Osborn has. But in Amazing Spider-Man 2, Harry seems more like an afterthought, and his transformation into the Green Goblin in the final act feels forced. It’s as if they had a fairly solid script featuring Electro, but someone sitting at that studio executive table chimed in saying, “you know we could sell more toys if we had more villains…”
We don’t even see Peter in the throes of anguish confront Harry after Gwen’s death? Sure, they could say we’ll see the Green Goblin developed more in subsequent films (God help us), but the foundation for the character and his relationship with Peter that got laid out in this film was so weak it’s going to be difficult to build anything with real weight upon.
Also everything about the character looks awful. Did they even refer to the comic books for any inspiration to the character’s appearance? Haven’t we done the body armor thing before?
What of Electro? Well, I actually liked Electro more than I thought I would. I really enjoyed the psychology behind the character, how obsessed and lonely he was. His evolution into a villain made sense and unlike Harry’s (or even the Lizard’s in the first film) did not feel forced. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but they actually made Electro complex and his origin tragic. In the comics he’s always been one of Spider-Man’s lamer rouges, but here they actually made me care more about him than anything in the whole film. I’m shocked! Get it?
I also enjoyed the brief inclusion of Rhino (at least in the beginning of the film). I REALLY liked seeing Spider-Man just fight a thug, with NO connection to him what so ever. I fear they always are going to try to link Spidey’s villains to the conspiracy of Oscorp and the research that his father was working on. LAME.
The real shame is that Amazing Spider-Man 2 is blessed with an great cast of actors that are unfortunately betrayed by bad storytelling. I feel Dane DeHaan got the worst of it in that he showed a lot of promise playing Harry Osborn; he had the chops to really turn Harry into a dynamic villain, but unfortunately the film never really presented a genuine opportunity for that to happen. Again, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s chemistry is charming, but their charm can only distract so much of the film’s flawed structure. I also think their parts were written a little weaker this time around; it felt as if they were doing the same dance throughout most of the movie and lines/scenes were interchangeable.
On the subject of Gwen, I am glad to see that the film’s story stayed committed to her dying. Fans all speculated she was to die at the end of this film, but you know how Hollywood likes to sometimes change the source material so as to not be too dark, especially when it comes to their super hero movies. Gwen’s death is necessary to the story of Spider-Man and the growth of the character. Hopefully they touch upon this in the next installment in a way that feels natural, but considering this film had the “ghost” of her father showing up everywhere to remind us of his guilt, I’m not going to cross my fingers too tightly…
By the way, did anyone else find Gwen’s graduation speech about “time” and her dying at a clock tower just a little too on the head? Were the wide shots of the clocks’ hands ticking really necessary?
There are countless other little things here and there that really took me out of the ride of the film. I’m bummed because I was able to appreciate the first one as much as I did, and was hoping (despite the trailers) to do the same again. But I can’t shake how much of a non-impression the film left with me. I mean, it wasn’t the worst movie I’ve seen in a while, but it did nothing to entice me to ever want to see it again.
Maybe that’s what they meant by the tagline on the poster, “His Greatest Battle Begins…” Spider-Man’s greatest battle is convincing me to have hope that the third movie is going to learn from this one’s mistakes!
Honestly, I just saw the film yesterday morning and it’s already a haze. With SO much crammed into its running time of two hours and twenty minutes, it’s hard for it all not to jumble together into one giant mess of fight scenes and explosions–into a tangled web of disappointment…
…look, I hate to leave you on such a downer of note, so I will say one final positive thing about the movie.