Here’s what’s good about The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Emma Stone. The rest, no so good. The rebooted series about the web-slinging Marvel hero has skipped the excellent second installment of the first trilogy and gone straight to the lackluster third, packing too many villains and a soggy love story into the script, making the whole thing too busy and too long. It was after the two-hour mark before they even introduced the last villain.
Spider-Man, to those of us who read the books, was far more interesting than he is presented here, and faced many different interesting villains. So why do we get a rehash, with yet another origin story involving the Green Goblin? He is, of course, Harry Osborn, Peter Parker’s childhood friend and scion of the billionaire scientist Norman Osborn (here played by Chris Cooper, and not a candidate for Father of the Year). Harry is played by Dane DeHaan as the ultimate preppy–seeing his gradual transformation into a vengeful supervillain is like seeing Holden Caulfield do the same thing.
Osborn, who goes from sympathetic to evil over the film’s nearly two and a half hours, is the spine of the film. He has a disease and thinks Spider-Man’s blood will help him. Secondarily, we see Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), a dweeb but electrical genius, get saved by Spider-Man, and get a fixation on him. Later, Foxx will have a classic comic book incident–he falls into a vat of electric eels, and turns into a guy who can control electricity. He calls himself Electro. At least he didn’t wear the costume that the comic book guy did, a suit with lightning bolts and a hat shaped like a star.
While Spider-Man battles these villains he’s dealing with many things. His love life, with Gwen Stacy (Stone), and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his father (Campbell Scott). It seems that he doesn’t want to endanger Gwen, so distances himself from her. At least I think so. The scenes between these two exist only to serve as stop-gaps between the action, and it’s only Stone’s effervescence that made them tolerable. Andrew Garfield, as Peter Parker, has good moments of teenage angst, but was a little too whiny.
Anyway, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers from overload. It’s so long that it doesn’t even bother to finish the last confrontation, with the Rhino (an unrecognizable Paul Giamatti, doing a Boris Badanov accent). They might as well have put up the words “To Be Continued,” as many threads are left dangling. I don’t want to spoil things, but Gwen’s last scene in the film warmed this old comic book reader’s heart, as it duplicates her fate in the comics in the mid-’70s, only moved from the George Washington Bridge to a clocktower.
I’ll be there for the third installment, as Spider-Man means too much to me, sentimentally. But after five films about him, they have got to start taking a different direction. The post-credit sequence, usually a teaser about the next film in the series, actually concerns The X-Men. How about teaming Spidey with them in the next film?
My grade for The Amazing Spider-Man 2: C-.