We went out to see Amazing Spider-Man 2 over the weekend. I was nervous going in. Partly because the previews suggested we were getting Electro, Rhino, and Green Goblin. (Because overloading the story with villains has worked so well for other Spider-Man movies.) And the reviews I’ve seen have been iffy, at best.
It wasn’t a perfect film, but I enjoyed it. Andrew Garfield opened the movie with wise-cracking, web-slinging Spider-Man. Watching him take care of low-level bad guys was just fun. I like Garfield’s Spider-Man (anyone else now visualizing a fat orange cat in a spider-suit, going on about Mondays and lasagna?) a lot better than the last incarnation. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised.
And now, on to the spoilers…
Emma Stone/Gwen Stacy: I love this character. I love that with the exception of the whole superpowers thing, she is Peter Parker’s equal — or better — in pretty much every way. She’s smarter. She’s strong-willed. She’s determined to live her own life, to the point where Peter Parker decides he’s going to accompany her to England.
Spider-Man says, “You must stay here where it’s safe while I fight Sparkles,” and she not only says, “Oh, hell no,” she cuts herself loose, steals a truck, and rams head-on into the bad guy, saving Spider-Man’s life in the process.
I’m particularly happy about the part where Gwen tells Peter it’s her choice. Not Peter’s, and not her father’s. She knows perfectly well how dangerous Spider-Man’s life is. So does Peter Parker. She makes her own choice. That choice gets her killed in the end, but that was her choice. She wasn’t kidnapped by the villain to use as bait; she drove out there to help kick the bad guy’s ass.
I’m very worried about where the movies are going to go without her, and without the chemistry she had with Andrew Garfield.
Smart-Ass Spider-Man: Oh, Spidey who clings to the side of the truck and quips with the bad guy, Spidey who scolds the plutonium cannisters (and catches one with his foot, which was a lovely touch), Spidey who can do angst and pain, but doesn’t spend the whole damn movie drowning in it (::cough:: DC ::cough::)… Never leave me, Smart-Ass Spider-Man!
Harry Osborne: I really liked Dane DeHaan’s portrayal of Harry/Green Goblin. His storyline didn’t get a lot of time or attention, and I know some people have been frustrated about that. But despite his crucial role in the end, this wasn’t his movie. This was his introduction, establishing the character and getting him ready for future movies. And in that respect, I think it worked. We see both sides of his character right away — the cold, emotionally abused son, and the guy who used to be Peter Parker’s best friend. “There he is!”
His few minutes as the Green Goblin were so much more effective than the last incarnation we saw on the big screen. The hair, the face, the cruelty … this is a supervillain.
Spider-Man’s Interactions with People: This version of Spider-Man cares about people as individuals. He talks to the people he rescues. He saves Max Dillon, and stays long enough to help him gather his blueprints, and to make him feel important. At the end, when the little kid in the Spidey costume walks out in front of Rhino… Spider-Man’s exchange with that kid was flawless.
Hope is a strong (at times, too strong) theme throughout the movie, and it’s not just hope that some dude in spandex will save the day. It’s Spider-Man taking the time to remind everyone he meets that they matter.
Gwen Stacy’s Death: We knew it was coming. Even if you weren’t familiar with the comics, Gwen gets up in the beginning of the movie to give a speech called, “Hey Everybody, I’m Gonna Die By The End Of This Movie!” And while I think it was done well, I wish they’d let her go off to England. Instead, her death sets up Peter Parker’s angst and pain and guilt … and all of those emotions are valid and powerful, but it’s a story we’ve seen so many times before, and I’m very sad that we won’t have Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield together in future films.
Also, what the heck was up with that slow-motion webbing morphing into the shape of a hand and reaching? Yeah, don’t do that.
Dr. Kafka: This is the evil researcher dude with the ridiculous accent at Ravencroft Institute. He only had a few scenes, but he packed an entire movie’s worth of over-the-top WTF into them. (ETA: It gets better. In the comics, Dr. Kafka is a woman who is a friend of Spider-Man, and one of the good guys. But apparently someone thought a caricatured Nazi dude would work better for the movie.)
Max Dillon/Electro: I feel like this character should go more into “The Meh” category than “The Bad.” He was … they tried. They gave us an isolated, socially awkward character we could sympathize with, and added some signs of mental instability (the Spider-Man shrine, his fantasy about physically attacking a coworker who dissed Spidey, etc.) After his transformation into Electro, we see Spider-Man starting to get through to him, and then a Series of Unfortunate Events sends him over the edge into full-blown bad guy.
And I wasn’t feeling it. I thought the effects worked pretty well, and I liked his costume later on, but I never really cared about him as a character or villain. What did he want? To reclaim the power grid he designed, and for people to see him. But the power grid thing isn’t something that really grabs the audience, and the latter doesn’t really fit with the Power Grid Quest. I feel like his storyline needed at least one more rewrite, and it could have been so much stronger.
The Fate of Richard and Mary Parker: Well that was anticlimactic. We learn why the spider venom works for Peter and not for anyone else, but beyond that, I didn’t feel like the backstory on Peter’s parents added much of anything to the movie.
ETA – Stalking the Ex: Spider-Man following Gwen around every day after they broke up? Not romantic. Creepy. Can we please get rid of this trope already?
There’s a lot more I could talk about, and things I’m probably forgetting.
- The on-again/off-again relationship drama was a little too much, I thought, but it also made sense, and certainly works as teenagers trying to sort out a very complicated relationship. Very glad Gwen was the one to break it off at the restaurant.
- Liked the more classic costume for Spider-Man.
- “I hate that song!”
But enough of me blathering on. Have you seen it, and if so, what did you think?