I've always loved Spider-Man.
When I was a kid I watched the Spider-Man cartoon every Saturday morning religiously, preferring it over the X-Men cartoon. X-Men seemed a bit too serious for me, and Spider-Man had my sense of humor. Then, in 2002, when I was 12 years old, Spider-Man came out. I loved that movie so much. I was the perfect age for it. It had this spark, this intangible aspect to it that grabbed onto me. The X-Men movie two years prior had shown me that superheroes could be cool on screen, and Spider-Man opened the door even more to what was possible. Hell, I even loved the song Hero off the soundtrack. I would sit in my room with a cassette tape in my radio waiting to hit the record button whenever the song came on.
That being said, I found it incredibly disheartening that I wasn't chomping at the bit for this new Spider-Man movie. It's the first one that I haven't been really excited for. I didn't expect it to suck, but the last one was just okay, and the reviews for this one were tepid at best.
Now, after having seen it, I'd qualify it as “good,” nothing more.
It was a competently made movie. Marc Webb showed that he's still much more comfortable directing cute relationship scenes than he is big budget superhero action, evidenced by the fact that a large chunk of the movie was spent on Peter and Gwen's relationship, even if it did kinda end up going nowhere. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone once again knocked it out of the park with their chemistry in the starring roles, but that makes sense considering that they're dating in real life and have been since the filming of the first movie.
What action there is is done well. The Spider-Man animation was done well, he moved like Spidey should move. I think Electro looked cool. The character itself was somewhat lacking. He never felt like a credible threat. A transitional villain, if you will. He's Yokozuna at Mania 9. They had to get the belt onto Green Goblin somehow.
Dane DeHaan is a fantastic actor. He's the next big thing, just watched. I adored the scene when he and Peter see each other for the first time in eight years. Harry is dealing with a tragedy and the scene of him and Pete is filled with pure bro, in the best way possible. It felt like how my friends and I would react in a situation such as that, which is Marc Webb's forte. Harry's transition to the dark side, though, felt a bit rushed. He went from “Oh, what's up, bro?” to “Goblin laugh” way too quickly.
That brings me to my biggest complaint about this movie. It was bloated and rushed. They had to try and tell this Mary Jane and Peter story on top of this Harry Osborne story on top of Electro on top of setting up for Sinister Six and everyone got less time than they needed. The final battle with Electro was cool, and I do like the way they did his character and his motivations behind being evil, it was honestly a very Batman way of doing it, taking someone obviously troubled mentally and using that to turn them. But he didn't get much buildup and he was gone as quickly as he appeared. Goblin shows up out of nowhere, gets taken care of basically by a bonk to the head, then Rhino pops up for the last two minutes. I hope that in Amazing Spider-Man 3 they actually get to tell a Spider-Man story without any universe setting up or origins or what not to do. Can't say I'm holding my breath.
The music in the movie was really....interesting. Marc Webb loves his licensed music and boy did they use that, at one point in back to back scenes. And that's fine, but the music never really fit what was happening on screen, it felt like somebody just liked the song and wanted it in there. I hated half of Electro's music and I loved the other half. Pre-accident turning him into Electro the music was something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. The best way to describe it is “bumbling.” And that's not necessarily a bad thing but it never really happened when there wasn't something life threatening going on in the background. And they even used it a couple of times after he turned into Electro. It took me out of the film more than anything else. On the other hand, after he went full on Electro I loved what they did with the music, incorporating the voices in his head into the score they used for him.
All-in-all it wasn't a bad movie. Was it a bad Spider-Man movie? That's for you to decide. It hasn't soured me on the franchise, but then again I don't know what it would take for me not to go see a Spider-Man movie. It would just feel wrong. Here's hoping all of the clunkiness and clutter in this movie is worth it and we get a fantastic Sinister Six movie out of it. And with Drew Goddard writing and directing it I have faith. Seriously, guys, go watch Cabin in the Woods.
I don't like assigning scores to reviews, it feels blasphemous to take 1000 words and shrink them down to a simple number, but gun to my head I'd give Amazing Spider-Man 2 a 6.8/10. Not bad, not quite “okay,” but just barely “good.” For the film fan in me, it was fun and I got my $7.50 worth. For the Spider-Man fan in me there's still a ways to go.