As I’ve said before, Spider-Man is my favorite superhero. Always has been. So anytime a Spider-Man movie comes out, I get excited. Sometimes that excitement is rewarded (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, The Amazing Spider-Man). Sometimes not so much (Spider-Man 3). I had tried to go into The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with a little less excitement. Not because I feared it would be bad, but just wanted to be a bit more objective. I emphasize that I tried to be less excited, but as I started reading all of the feedback from fellow comic fans, I couldn’t help but be optimistic about it.
My wife and I went to the theater Sunday afternoon to watch it. I’m sad to say that my excitement was definitely not rewarded. The movie just feels like it’s a set up for more movies instead of being a good stand alone film. The poster is horribly misleading, as Electro, Green Goblin, and Rhino are never on screen together. Aside from Peter’s wise cracks and the relationship between Gwen and Peter, there was nothing really exceptional in the movie. The web-slinging looked really cool, but it was bogged down by constant slow-motion. I get it, Spider-Man can do some really cool stuff, but I felt it took away from the effect by slowing it down. Let me see him doing it in real time. It’s way more impressive. I couldn’t help but feel that I was watching a movie that was made specifically for 3-D without the 3-D (because I refuse to pay more for it unless it’s the only option I have). The acting outside of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone was decent at best. Sally Field wasn’t bad, but she just wasn’t in it enough. Jamie Foxx was terribly disappointing as Electro. Dane DeHaan was way too snarky for Harry Osborn. But the worst was Paul Giamatti as Rhino. I understand that Rhino isn’t exactly known for his brain, but his portrayal was too over-the-top and campy, and didn’t really fit the tone they were going for. I love Chris Cooper, and thought his casting as Norman Osborn was brilliant. He’s a top-notch actor who could bring some real credibility to the role…but then he died after his first scene!
As I mentioned in my last post, the Green Goblin (specifically Norman Osborn) is my favorite villain ever. I was worried about what his role in this series would be when it was announced that Harry would indeed be the Green Goblin and not his father. I was still hopeful that they would lay the groundwork for Norman to assume the role or mention that he was actually the Goblin at some point prior to Harry.Imagine my frustration when what I actually got was Norman dying 20 minutes into the movie. His legacy in the Spider-Man mythos was wiped out completely.
But the most grievous of offenses was the death of Gwen Stacy. That moment in comics is one of the most iconic and gut-wrenching in comic history. It destroyed any doubt who Spider-Man’s true nemesis was, as before then it could be argued that Dr. Octopus was his greatest enemy. But Norman Osborn, as the Green Goblin, uses Gwen Stacy as bait to kill Spider-Man. In the ensuing battle between the two, Gwen is thrown from the top of the George Washington Bridge. Peter shoots a web down to catch her, but the sudden stop breaks her neck, killing her instantly. Peter blames himself for her death and the guilt weighs on him for the rest of his life. To take that away from Norman Osborn and give it to Harry infuriated me beyond belief. Yet again, they’ve erased his legacy from the story. The event is a turning point not only in the life of Peter Parker and the Spider-Man comic legend, but in the history of comics as a whole. It was quite literally the loss of innocence in comics. And to have that monumental of a moment handled so poorly was a travesty and was a blatant thumb in the eye of comic fans. Gwen’s death comes out of nowhere with no real build. On top of the terrible handling of the moment itself, 15 minutes later, Peter is fine and out making jokes as Spider-Man again. There’s no feeling at all that her death still weighs on him.
Overall I was thoroughly unimpressed with this installment in the Amazing Spider-Man series. I hope that this isn’t a taste of what’s to come, but in the words of the great philosopher George Lucas, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”