I liked The Amazing Spider-Man, but I didn’t think it was spectacular. I didn’t have anything against Tobey Maguire but I thought Andrew Garfield brought something new. Even though I liked it, I was never really that excited about this sequel. Not in the same sort of way I’m excited about the next Avengers or even the next X-Men.
My main hesitation was that three villains were being marketed with the film and I was worried they weren’t going to get a stellar treatment. Was I right in this hesitation?
Andrew Garfield returns as Peter Parker / Spider-Man, who is trying to keep a romance alive with Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone). He happens to save scientist Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), who becomes obsessed with Spider-Man but eventually becomes a super-electric villain named Electro. Let’s also add in Peter’s childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) who reappears in New York City as his father is dying. There’s a lot happening but the movie clocks in at nearly 2 and a half hours, so they manage to get in a lot of content.
While I didn’t have any qualms with Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield really nails it here. This movie is dark and goes to some very dark places towards the end and Garfield manages to carry that weight, while also portraying Spider-Man as the wisecracking teenager that he’s meant to be. It’s a layered performance and one we didn’t really ever see from Maguire. His chemistry with Emma Stone was also spot-on.
A lot of this movie is focused on the relationship between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker. It feels strange for a superhero movie but it pays off incredibly in the climax of the film, as all that work culminates in one moment that we’ve all been waiting for since Peter Parker made his first on-screen appearance. Incredible work there.
I thought Jamie Foxx pulled off Max Dillon as a villain but the writing didn’t launch him the level of other modern villains, such as Loki or the Winter Soldier. Not Foxx’s fault though, I don’t think.
What doesn’t work?
Let’s start at the written page. The dialogue is bad. Bringing a comic book to the big screen requires some tact and you can’t just copy and paste. When Jamie Foxx says “I am Electro!” my first instinct was to groan, not cheer. Most of Dane DeHaan’s dialogue is way over the top. And the plot doesn’t really make sense. Harry Osborn was a fine addition to the story but his transformation into the Green Goblin was forced and all too brief, really culminating in one short action sequence. And don’t even get me started on the Rhino… I’d be fine with the Rhino being a cool extra cameo but he was marketed as one of the villains of this film and that really isn’t the case.
Now in the actual execution… The movie succeeds when it’s about Peter and Gwen but it fails once it starts dipping into the actual superhero mythology. The Green Goblin doesn’t make sense. The visual effects are sometimes horrible. The opening scene featuring Spider-Man was atrocious. Dane DeHaan didn’t fit the Harry Osborn character (I actually much preferred Franco). The fight scenes had weird shaky-cam choreography and an abundance of slow motion. Compared to a movie like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, these effects and these fight sequences were both subpar.
The movie essentially built up the creation of the so-called Sinister Six, which are six villains that all team up to take out Spider-Man. I’ll be doing a video soon on who I think will make up that team.
I didn’t have a problem with this film being 2.5 hours long. I didn’t have a problem with the amount of villains. But I did have a problem with the way these villains were portrayed. Electro was the only one that kind of made sense, while Rhino is really a cameo and Green Goblin makes no sense and suffers from extreme overacting. Sony is already planning the next two installments, plus two spinoff movies, which worries me because the foundation for this cinematic universe is weak and flawed. This movie is best when Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are onscreen together but it’s worst when it actually focuses on Spider-Man and his villains. And that’s bad for a movie about Spider-Man.