Here we go again, with Fishing in the Discount Bin. I watch a movie I own, and blog about it. Sometimes I have to question why own some of movies...such as that hot mess that is The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This shows up in my notes at August 24, 2014.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is such a wonderful mess. There are parts of a good Spider-Man movie in there, but there's so much extra. I recently blogged that a lot of Sony's plans for the Spider-Man franchise seem reactionary to Marvel's plans for the Marvel cinematic universe. The first one in this rebooted franchise came out the same year as The Avengers, leading many to ponder, "Why isn't Spider-Man in the Avengers?" Answer: because, thanks to a convoluted legal battle that took up most of the 1990s, Sony owns the movie rights to Spider-Man.
But I digress. Since the whole Avengers/shared continuity concept took the world by storm, Sony decided to emulate that with their Spider-Man franchise. They announced a Sinister Six spinoff. They announced a Venom spinoff. They announced a TBA female character spinoff. But first, they have to start establishing all that. and the movie to do that with? The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
A lot of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks like Sony is just throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. If they pruned out a lot of the subplots, and focused on just, say, the Spider-Man vs. Electro plot, it probably would have been good. But they also decide to revisit the plotline of the disappearance of Peter Parker's parents, a plotline that was all over the marketing for the first film, but then mysteriously abandoned halfway through the first film. They also bring back Harry Osborn as an old childhood friend of Peter Parker's, and quickly give him a terminal disease, just so he can become the Green Goblin. Plus, a requisite romantic subplot with Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey.
Don't get me wrong, there's lots of good stuff in here. The parts of a good Spider-Man movie are in there, they're just not assembled in the right order. Andrew Garfield absolutely nails the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. His Spider-Man is quick-witted and sharp with the wisecracks. We get to see the scientific side of Peter Parker as he tries to figure out a way to keep his webshooters from shorting out when he battles Electro. And the special effects team does a great assist, doing a fantastic representation of the spider-sense.
The romantic subplot is good. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are a ridiculously adorable couple. Peter Parker, trying to make good on his vow to Gwen's dying father to stay out of her life for her safety, but they can't because they just love each other so much.
The not-so-good...Jaimie Foxx does the best he can with Electro, but he starts off so quirky that his descent into madness really isn't charted. He's quiet and ignored, gets zapped and becomes Electro, and now he has the power to be noticed. That's pretty much his whole character arc.
Bringing in Harry Osborn caused problems for me. In the first film, Peter Parker made this big deal about sneaking into Oscorp to meet up with Dr. Curt Connors. But...why didn't he just call up his old buddy, the son of the president of the company, to arrange a meeting? They rush through his descent into madness rather quickly too...I also think the only reason why they had him in the film was so he could kill Gwen Stacey.
Oh, spoiler warning. Green Goblin pretty much shows up at the end just to do that.
And why the hell did they have to revisit the whole mystery of Peter's parents plotline? No one cares about Peter's parents!
Even though Paul Giammatti as the Rhino amounted to a glorified cameo, it does highlight something I always wanted to see in a superhero film. That is, follow the James Bond model. Open with a spectacular action with our hero taking down a villain, and having very little to do with the plot. That's what happens here. And it's a great opening scene.
As I said, there's a lot in here I like, but they stuff in so much in an attempt to create their shared universe that it loses focus. It's a Spider-Man movie. Keep the spotlight on Spider-Man