Movie Review - Amazing Spider-Man 2
It’s kinda like Bruce Banner.
Sure, right now you’re thinking “Wrong movie, dude,” but hear me out.
You see, like Banner, I have this thing inside…this thing I refuse to let take control. People could get hurt.
But sadly, I’m going to have to go full-nerd on this one.
First thing’s first, I gotta tell ya, I recognize the narrative challenge here…not so much with Electro, he’s a clean slate. But when you bring the Green Goblin in…and eventually you HAVE to bring the Goblin in, well, how do you separate yourself from what Sam Raimi did? I recognize that and I get it…and we’ll get back to that in a bit.
Let’s go ahead and get Electro out of the way first, since he’s pretty much the A story here. I’ll admit, I had a bad feeling in my stomach when I saw what route they were going to go down with Max Dillon…he who would be Electro. If you got flashes of Jim Carey’s Edward Nygma from the beginning of Batman Forever…well, then hey, have a cookie and send the charges to us here at Nuking the Cat (please don’t…we don’t have a cookie budget – Ed.). So yeah, he follows the typical obsession, disillusionment, seeming betrayal then lastly hatred and the “you are my enemy forevers!!! Grrrrr!!!” that usually goes with this trope. But, as the phrase goes, hate the game, not the playa…and in that regard, Jamie Fox does a good job with the role. The effects and how they handle Electro’s powers are fantastic…and made me wish I’d have sprung the extra cash for the 3D showing. Alas. Still, and I plan to get to this in a future review or rant…because I really feel vindicated. See, what I mean is that when Watchmen came out…and there was all the nerd backlash…I turned to my girlfriend, who also loved the movie, and said “this will be the Blade Runner of comic book movies…they won’t get it now, but it will influence everything after”. And my first thought from seeing Electro…oh, I’d say maybe about 2/3 into the movie? “Dude’s pulling a Dr. Manhattan.” And it pretty much is a rehash of when the good Doctor pulled himself together from surrounding atoms. Well…minus the blue dong. Hey, it’s PG-13 up in here…that’s cool. But still…credit where credit’s due!
Okay, back to the Goblin. So Raimi did both Norman and eventually Harry Osborne as the Green Goblin. Sure, there was the muddling from the train-wreck that was Spider-Man 3…but you could see the seeds of the Peter/Harry conflict planted in the very first movie. Here, they opted to just run with Harry as the only Green Goblin. Sure…it COULD work…and going into the movie, I was fine with it. Even within the framework of the story that they set out to tell, it could work…but it didn’t. It felt forced to me…kinda like when the Lizard wanted to turn everyone in New York into lizards too in the first one. It’s one of those turns where you just have to say “ya lost me pal.” But here’s my biggest beef: you don’t make the Green Goblin the B story. Ever. The Goblin is Spidey’s Joker. Could you EVER conceive of a Batman movie where they just kinda tip their hat to the Joker…and make the main villain Firefly or one of Batman’s lesser known villains (Mad Hatter, Humpty Dumpty, Magpie…I could go on)? No. Nor should you be able to. The Joker is an A list villain and as such, he deserves space to breathe in the story. A conflict like that is so fundamental to both the hero and the villain that both are shortchanged if that doesn’t happen. And sadly, that’s what happens here. The conflict with Harry Osborne doesn’t get lost in the movie and, in fact, Harry’s place in the movie feels organic, his story does belong here. But the Goblin DOES get lost in the shuffle.
While the Goblin getting lost in the shuffle hurts in the sense I described above, it hurts in another way as well. You see, the movie tackles one of the REALLY big moments in Spider-Man lore…the one that, like it or not, we all knew was coming. And that’s just it…while this event IS really impactful and Andrew Garfield plays it brilliantly…it could have and should have been EPIC. There have been many “this changes everything” Spider-Man stories in his many years of publication…but only a handful end up being timeless…and this event, this one is the top of EVERYONE’S list. And the cool thing is that I’ve totally given it away without saying what it is!
And that leads to my last complaint…if you couldn’t see that the above mentioned event was coming by the end of the high school graduation scene, you clearly don’t know the concept of foreshadowing. I mean, this movie wears its foreshadowing like a goth kid wears eyeliner. I mean, I realize that sometimes movies have to play to the lowest common denominator but…yeeesh. Let ‘em at least try to fill in some of the blanks, huh? Hell, at the very worst, the only negative is that stupid people might have to see the movie more than once…and who does that hurt, eh?
To sum up, I understand that this movie had some serious narrative challenges and while they gave it a good shot…well, they didn’t quite hit the mark with it. And that’s kind of a problem. You see, going forward, Sony’s planning 2 more Spider-Man movies, a Venom movie and a Sinister Six movie…the seeds for which are all right here. But Venom and Sinister Six will pose unique narrative challenges as well…and this movie doesn’t really answer the question as to whether or not Sony is ready to handle them like I’d hoped it would. So far, this rebooted Spider-Man has been like the hike up a hill that a friend told you about. The first movie is like the trail your friend described as so beautiful that you won’t mind that it’s all uphill. As you muck through it, you say to yourself, “sure, this is nice, but I don’t know if it’s all that.” The second movie is like how your friend describes the view to you from the top of the hill, “man, it’s such a great view,” but ultimately, you find it to be…well…just okay. The way this series is going, I have the sneaking suspicion that the third movie, like the previous Spider-Man 3…well, let’s just say your friend didn’t get that far…as the first step proved to be a bit of a doosey! So yeah, check it out, it's good exercise...but maybe this is the point where we turn around and just go back the way we came.