I wasn’t sure if I was going to count this one as part of the action movie marathon at first but screw it, it’s got plenty of action in it and not-surprisingly, it’s super time consuming to watch 31 movies in a month so if I can get one more day covered out of this one then I am damn sure going to take advantage of that.
When The Amazing Spider-Man came out in 2012, it definitely did feel too soon for another reboot. I was not too excited to watch Peter Parker become Spider-Man again but the movie actually ended up being a pretty good watch. Andrew Garfield made for a good Parker and Emma Stone is always fantastic. Sure the villain was kind of weak and you have to go through the whole Uncle Ben bit again but it was better than I anticipated it would be.
The sequel though felt like a reason to be truly excited. They had gone through the necessary bits and they were now free to run wild and do whatever they wanted. Plus Spider-Man 2 is the best movie in the Raimi trilogy so maybe this one would follow suit. Then as the news started to come out it started to feel like it could suffer from Spider-Man 3 syndrome in that they try and cram way too much into a single film. It turns out that yep, that is a definite problem here. Not quite to the levels of Spider-Man 3 but “cluttered” is still very much an apt description for this movie.
A little while after the first movie, Peter Parker is still dating Gwen Stacy however he feels bad for breaking the promise he made to her father in the previous movie. They break up, they get back together, they pine, they lust, etc. During an attack on the city by Aleksei Sytsevich (aka The Rhino), Spider-Man rescues Max Dillon, an OsCorp employee played by Jamie Foxx who quickly becomes obsessed with Spider-Man until eventually he becomes Electro and hates Spider-Man for reasons that only vaguely make sense. All the while, Peter’s childhood friend Harry Osbourne is back in town to run OsCorp after his father Norman passes away. Turns out he has the same disease his father died from and feels the only way to fix it is with Spider-Man’s blood so he’s all after that and then eventually he becomes the Green Goblin for about five minutes worth of screen time. Also there’s the whole matter of the disappearance of Peter’s parents to deal with as well. So yeah there is a lot going on in this movie and despite a two and a half hour run time, many of its plot beats, especially some of the stuff with Harry and Peter’s parents, can’t help but feel rushed.
The strongest material is actually the Peter and Gwen stuff if only because Garfield and Stone (a couple in real life) really do have great chemistry so it’s hard not to root for them. Peter does make it hard sometimes when he gets full on whiney emo and starts throwing things around his room and crying and yelling, but for the most part they make for a great pair. Their scenes were my favourite thing in the movie so it’s almost too bad more emphasis couldn’t have been put on their story without all this other stuff going on. Also I still like Garfield as Spider-Man as I feel he does the quippy, smart-ass part of the character better than Maguire did. He does seem a bit too cool as Parker though, who I thought was supposed to be a huge nerd.
I know a lot of people were not too pleased with the look of Electro but that didn’t bother me at all. Hell I even liked his admittedly goofy origin where he falls into a vat of electric eels. It reminded me of comic book movies from the 80’s and 90’s where every villain was created because they fell into a vat of something. So yeah it was goofy but I was cool with it. His back story had the potential to be pretty interesting as they try to establish him as a generally good guy who is completely ignored and put upon by his co-workers however that’s slightly tainted when they decide to have him be obsessed with Spider-Man and having pretend birthday parties with him. That angle really doesn’t add a whole lot to the character and it honestly for me would have worked better for his transformation if instead he was simply a weak willed guy who suddenly found himself with immense power in a world he felt had consistently wronged him.
The Electro scenes do make for the best action sequences however, with the face-off in Times Square being the highlight. The scale is huge and impressive and there are lots of fun uses of the spider sense and Spider-Man’s general good humour towards the situation. This scene does also have the biggest unintentional laugh in the entire movie. There’s this bizarre element where Electro’s thoughts (“he lied to you, he’s after you, he lied to you” that kinda thing) are spoken aloud and worked into the beat of the music and it’s the silliest decision they could have made with the score, outside of the dubstep drops that seem to happen whenever Electro attacks. If the score had calmed the fuck down and shut its mouth, this scene would have been much better for it.
The stuff with Harry Obsourne definitely suffers the most as it feels the most rushed. For starters, why is Harry in such a hurry to get the blood to cure his disease? His father still lived for decades after that age, doesn’t he have time to do the proper research and make sure the blood won’t in fact kill him, (which is what Peter is afraid of)? He acts as though he is going to be die in the next 15 minutes. Also I’m not sure I totally bought into Peter’s reasoning for not actually giving him the blood so I do kind of see why Harry was so upset with him. Plus Dane DeHaan just gives me the jibblies so he always feels kinda evil even long before he dons the costume that conveniently presents itself right in the moment where Harry needs it most. This whole arc definitely felt the most rushed though it’s definitely close with the parent’s backstory stuff as I’m still not convinced any of that even made sense. I don’t want to spoil anything but many aspects as to how Peter finds out what happened to them don’t seem to make a lick of damn sense when you stop and think about it for even a second.
So yes there is way too much going on and the movie is full of dumb moments that I can’t get too deep into without spoiling things but it’s still at the very least entertaining. The two leads are appealing and the action is solid so it does just fine as an evening of fairly mindless entertainment. It just isn’t the sequel I was hoping for as even though it’s the second one, it still feels like mostly set-up for future installments. The first movie felt like a necessary step in order to get to the good stuff, but this movie feels largely the same. There are tons of hints at what’s to come and it all certainly sounds intriguing, I just wish the movies were delivering better material in the present instead of showing us all the great stuff that awaits us.
It’s certainly not the best start to the Summer 2014 movie season but we have lots of potential greatness on the way still!