There is no way I can sugar coat this. From about 3 minutes into this movie I started to not like it. Then for 2 acts it was ok, then the final act came and I was back to where I started. Marc Webb did a fine job with the script he was given, but a quote from Aunt May seems appropriate when discussing the script from Kurtzman and Orci (and Pinker and Vanderbilt)
“Where are you going Peter?”
“I don’t know.”
This script is all over the place. From bits that aren’t needed (such as the two planes flying at full speed towards each other over New York City when there is a major power failure, and amazingly unneeded back story), to parts that don’t even make much sense in the context of the film (Gwen’s contrived escape from OsCorp, that is never mentioned again, Harry Osborn thinking that somehow Spider-Man’s blood can save his life.) But what can you expect from having 3 different script writers, writing a script around a story with 4 different writing credits, and 2 different comic story credits?
Starting with the obvious. Even if you didn’t know it going into the first film, enough time has passed between her introduction and now, that you should be well aware that Gwen Stacy is not long for this world. So when the movie starts, at Gwen and Peter’s High School graduation, and Gwen is giving her Valedictorian speech, do we really need it telegraphed? With lines like “What makes life valuable is that it doesn’t last forever. What makes it precious is that it ends,” are we supposed to have any hope that she lasts to ASM 3? Oh and if that weren’t bad enough, Peter keeps having visions of Captain Stacey in what has to be Dennis Leary’s easiest paycheck to date.
If that was how the movie ACTUALLY started it would be one thing. However, before we get to Gwen, or even Spidey, we are treated to a 7 minute sequence showing us how Peter’s parents die. A sequence that has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the events in the movie. No we really didn’t need to know how Richard Parker got the data out of OsCorp, because the method doesn’t have anything to do with anything else.
Speaking of OsCorp, does this company have to be the root of all evil? So far, every single villain introduced in the ASM universe has their origin focused around this company. Not only the ones we know so far, but the ones that are sure to pop up in future installments. After all, we already have 3 and 4 announced, and the “top secret” “Sinister Six” feature (which you can see a sneak peek of if you have Shazam installed on your smart phone and use it to identify the song playing during the end credits. Or, if you missed it, or want to see it again, just Google Alicia Key’s “It’s On Again” and hold your phone up to your speakers.)
At least we aren’t having the same issues that we had with Sony’s previous Spider-Man installments. Learning the lesson of “too many bad guys/subplots ruin movies”, we really have to deal with Electro for most of the movie. Haters will get their comeuppance as Jamie Foxx hits it out of the park in this movie. Quite different than his comic persona, this Electro actually has you feeling for him, at least until he completely loses it.Which is how a good villain should be.
As much dislike as I had for this movie, the cast was the only good thing it had going for it. The too-old-to-play-high-school-graduate Andrew Garfield continues to impress as Peter Parker, Emma Stone is a delight to watch, Sally Field always impresses, B.J. Novak as Smythe, Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn… well, every single cast member, really (though the Stan Lee cameo was very early and seemed very forced, but that isn’t a situation unique to this movie, so we can overlook it).
MASSIVE SPOILERS TO FOLLOW SO STOP READING NOW.
(here is a kitten picture as a buffer, awww look at the kitten)
(And, honestly not a huge spoiler, since we all knew it was going to happen)
Ok kitten time is over, on to the spoilers.
Now for the bit that I was waiting for the entire movie. Gwen’s death. If you are aware of the character’s history, you know she dies as a result of Spider-Man attempting to save her after she is thrown from the Brooklyn Bridge by the Green Goblin. So when the Goblin shows up in this movie, late into the third act, we know it is going to happen. The writers know that we know, so they try to toy with us. She is dropped several times before the fatal plunge. And every time Spidey rescues her, we are expecting it. I’ve got two major issues with this:
- By the time it actually happens, there was no tension left. I was actually waiting for it to happen.
- In writing the scene as they did, they took the major source of tragedy away. Here are the original panels from the story this portion of the movie is based on (The Amazing Spider-Man #121):
In the comic, Spidey actually thinks he saved her, when in reality, he comes to realize that because of physics, her head continued to move after he grabbed her, snapping her neck. Spidey actually caused her death.
In the movie, however, he snags her too late, and instead of her neck snapping (which it really should have done anyway) her head hits the ground, and the blunt force trauma is presumably what kills her. Not only that, but he knows almost immediately that something is wrong. So, it changes from Spidey accidentally killing his girlfriend, to him failing to save her. She still dies, but the context is changed so the tragedy is diminished. Because, no matter what Peter feels about it, her death in the movie was the Goblins fault, instead of his own.
All in all, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not a great movie. It’s not a bad one, but if you haven’t spent the money to see it yet, you may be better off waiting till it is on DVD, or even Netflix.
(BTW, Paul Giamatti’s Rhino was perfect, even though, or possibly because, Rhino only appeared in the last 5 minutes of the movie.)