If The Amazing Spider-Man was able to shut me up regarding my apprehension towards rebooting the franchise, its sequel certainly has me chatting on my previous stance: Why did we reboot this franchise in the first place?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 begins with a huge action sequence involving Peter Parker’s parents and their involvement in something that costs them their lives. So far so good, until the scene grows in absurdness. After a hole is blown through a jet, Peter’s father can still type and control a laptop computer despite the air pressure. Now to be fair, I am watching a movie about a kid who can climb up walls and gets powers via radioactive spiders, so the physics is going to be a bit weird. At the same time though, Spider-Man has always had a sense of reality to it in the fantasy that is happening within.
From that opening, comes scene after scene of Spider-Man taking down criminals, Peter Parker juggling a social life, and Harry Osborn growing more corrupted. The problem is all these scenes have no bearing on the story. The entire first 45 minutes involves car chases, civilian life and nothing that moves the story on at all. I didn’t have any more emotion for, or see any development out of anybody save for Electro.
Speaking of which, Jamie Fox gives us a passable yet forgettable Electro. Fox plays a man named Max Dillon, a brilliant scientist who is obsessed with, and ends up hating, Spider-Man. Where have we not seen this plot device before? Jim Carey’s Riddler from 1995’s Batman Forever called and he wants his origin back. Why Electro decides to absolutely hate Spider-Man is beyond me. The way they meet and try to get some sort of chemistry involved feels so forced, the movie’s main villain seems like something that was checked off a list.
I want to go into who the other villain is, unfortunately, it happens so late in the movie it would risk some spoilers. Safe to say, THAT villain and Spider-Man have genuine chemistry and some real risks involved. Had that villain’s storyline been present and built up in the entire film, it would have made the twist at the end, that much more emotional rather than just a cookie cutter scene from the comic. As it is, it’s another 10 minutes tossed into what already is an absurdly long film with no depth. Oh, I’m not talking about the third villain who shows up with eight minutes to go, that’s another spoiler, but you’ll certainly crush your soda cup in rage when you see what they did to them.
All this could be avoided, had they actually given Spider-Man some passable lines, but his one liners were maybe the most grating of all. Andrew Garfield not only has bad lines, but gives us a bad performance. He certainly has the look of Spider-Man—when in the spider suit. I’m sure he looks like some artist’s rendition of Peter Parker, but he certainly doesn’t make me like the character. Whenever he’s out of the suit I don’t see Peter Parker, I see some guy jumping around doing corny science experiments.
Emma Stone doesn’t fare much better. Gwen Stacy really could have been better served doing other things in this movie. Instead, she’s constantly shoved down our throats at ridiculous moments that the filmmakers want to claim only she can be involved in. It all concludes just how poorly written this second installment was. They really want us to believe that an early 20s female is the ONLY person who can shut down an entire power grid for the city of New York? I’m not saying that as sexist, I’m saying that’s one of the most poorly ran companies ever.
The funny thing about all of this is I can’t help but see the same formula as I saw in Sam Rami’s vastly superior Spider-Man 2. It is the second sequel with us now not needing an introduction to Peter Parker’s life. There’s a villain with a small rivalry towards Spider-Man and an even larger personal relationship with Peter Parker, and the relationships were not set up by chance, rather by something realistic.
It was certainly more interesting when Dr. Otto Octavius tutored Peter and helped him with a paper before turning into Doc Ock, rather than Spider-Man saving Max Dillon on the street and saying hello—which somehow forms a deep level of resentment.
Everything about this picture outside of the character names and Spider-Man’s costume just reeks of ignorance: Electro certainly needed an update, but he doesn’t even function like his comic counterpart outside of his use of electricity (look to the Dark Knight for how they updated the Joker to at least let him have links to his comic influence); The Osborn’s are just ridiculous in execution and more dysfunctional not for the better; and Peter Parker’s main issue isn’t balancing his social life with a super hero, it’s being in this lukewarm movie.
I challenge producers of super hero movies to quit looking to frame a trilogy with intentions to reboot every eight years and focus more on a storyline involving certain characters that won’t take the entire world full circle. Maybe watching how they did things with the Daniel Craig James Bond flicks would help. Easily, they could have done three movies with the lineage of the Green Goblin and how it affects everyone, ending with Harry Osborn’s death. No, not like Sam Rami, I mean one with a struggling Harry Osborn who until the end will hate Peter and die without shedding his abrasive feelings. It was a great storyline in the comics, why can’t we see something resonate that here?
Unfortunately, we are looking to the third sequel and yet another reboot and another origin story and another sequel after establishing that with…well you get the picture. One villain is never enough and they will continue to shove as many as possible into these flicks. The only thing going forward is how predictable this franchise has become and for Spider-Man, it doesn’t need to be this way.