ByThomas Cunningham IV, writer at
Pop-culture loving, comic book nerd who expresses his passion for critical thinking in a variety of topic areas.
Thomas Cunningham IV

I'm a big fan of Raimi's Spider-Man 2. It was an amazing comic book movie with stellar performances from the lead villain. Spidey and Octavius had all the chemistry that was missing from Peter's relationship with Mary Jane... the octopus arms were sweet and the 3rd act sacrifice was satisfying. It was so good, that I could overlook Franco's "meh" Goblin and pretty much everything about Kirsten Dunst.

When "Amazing Spider-Man" burst onto the scene, the main thing that appealed to me was Garfield and Stone as Peter and Gwen. In Gwen Stacy, we have a character that actually contributes to the story beyond the standard "damsel in distress" tropes. Stone plays Stacy as smart, independent and capable. Further, in the both movies, she assists Spider-Man at critical junctures. The pair is perfectly cast and has palpable on-screen sizzle.

Garfield and Stone's real life chemistry works!
Garfield and Stone's real life chemistry works!

In "Amazing 2," their relationship is put to the test as Peter experiences visions of Gwen's late father. Captain Stacy pops up intermittently to remind Peter of his promise to exclude Gwen from his life. Of course, that doesn't work and the couple is drawn back together at convenient plot points. Which brings us to the "plot"... SIGH.

Sony rebooted the franchise to keep rights from reverting to Marvel/Disney. Given Marvel's success with their unified Movie/TV universe and Fox's bajillionth X-Men/Wolverine spin-off, what's a studio to do when all they have is a single super-hero? Turn to the villains.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Venom is a fan favorite who has had success in several one shots and stand alone titles. Carnage is enjoying even bigger success as the "Joker" of the Spideyverse. However, it does put the pressure on introducing characters whenever you can, especially when "The Sinister Six" is in the pipeline. Unfortunately, that means "Amazing 2" is a bit of a mess storywise.

Green Goblin is Spider-Man's arch-nemesis. However, we've had a Goblin in all three Raimi films, including a redemption arc in the nightmarishly awful Spider-Man 3. Venom has been featured too, so it's too early to dip into that well. Lizard debuted in the first film, so Electro is the obvious choice. He's special effects heavy, and no one raised a fuss when Jamie Foxx was cast in the role. Unfortunately, the writers ditched both of his bad ass origins and transformed Foxx into a cariacature. Introduced as nerdy loner Oscorp flunky Max Dillon (completely with a CONKED OUT comb over, pocket protector and an armful of blueprints), a chance meeting triggers a Spider-Man obsession that turns dark after his transformation into Electro.

Really, Jamie? A POCKET PROTECTOR?!?!?
Really, Jamie? A POCKET PROTECTOR?!?!?

Of course, Oscorp heir Harry Osborn ends up needing his former employee to help him tackle the webslinger, setting up a third act so busy with frenetic action that it's like a shot of adrenaline during the last 20 minutes of this already long film. I haven't mentioned Rhino because he's LITERALLY only in the last three minutes to establish him (along with Doc Ock and Vulture) for the movie spin-off.

That's not to say that it's all bad. In fact, Spider-Man has NEVER moved better on film. The webslinging sequences are, well, amazing. You get a real sense of how this nimble dude moves around the city. And Garfield really turned up the volume on Spidey's humorous banter. That stuff, and the scenes with Gwen (absent the ridiculous "moving to England" subplot) are absolutely engaging. If you're not familiar with the decades-old storyline of Gwen Stacy, suffice it to say, the emotions are raw and authentic.

Get this Goblin a toothbrush and some skin cream!
Get this Goblin a toothbrush and some skin cream!

Dane DeHaan is sufficiently creepy to play the Goblin, and even manages to create a sense of rapport with his former "best friend" before he hops off into the deep end of the crazy pool. Somewhere between the Goblin and Gwen and cutting 40 minutes of script, there's a tidy little film to be enjoyed. I wish I had seen THAT film, because this film collapsed under its own weight.

Soooo. PROS: Super cool Spidey swinging. Stone and Garfield are awesome. Special effects are cool. Goblin is creepy. CONS: Electro is a confused mess (and where did he find an LED-rimmed hoody after breaking out of Oscorp's basement morgue(?), Rhino is a transparent set-up (and the character really isn't very good). Colm Feore as random nefarious corporate type. Goblin doesn't get the screen time he deserves given his HUGE plot impact.

Plenty of people will respond to the popcornish action, but this isn't a great Spider-Man film. I wish it was.


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