I hated THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 when I saw it earlier this year. I wasn’t planning on watching it again, but sometimes a movie you detest just turns up in your house and you’re strangely compelled to put them on. I’m also a bit of a sucker at giving superhero movies especially a second chance. I mean, I’ve already given GHOST RIDER and FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER another shot this year, so will I never learn? ASM2 still terrible, but I’ve had a second go at processing the extent to which it doesn’t work, and come up with a few more ideas. By the way, a few spoilers ahead.
One of the driving forces behind this iteration of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), especially since the events of the last film, is his moral turmoil at maintaining a relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Peter breaks up with Gwen again here, then a few months later she suggests they stay just as friends to make things less complicated, to which Peter heartily agrees. The trouble with this is that he’s still going to be putting Gwen in danger. It doesn’t matter whether their relationship is romantic or not, he’s still Spider-Man and she’s still at risk as long as colourful bad guys are coming after him. I know she’s not a passive damsel in distress and can handle herself, but at the same time, she’s not superhumanly strong, agile and durable. Yet Marc Webb and his writers try (and fail) at fooling us into thinking everything will be OK as long as Peter and Gwen aren’t snogging.
When will Hollywood learn once and for all that you show, and don’t tell. Film is a visual medium – guys in suits spying on Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) from a van and explaining to the audience how it will be good business sense for Oscorp to kick out the guy with his name on the stationery isn’t interesting!
Speaking of Harry, shouldn’t there have been at least one throwaway line in the last film that mentioned his childhood friendship with Peter? Something like: “I sure miss Harry…”. There also seems to have been next to no thought put into the Green Goblin’s genesis this time round. In Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN, it was clear – Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) tested an experimental military-grade drug on himself and it drove him mad in addition to making him super-strong. Here, Harry apparently needs the same super-spider venom that transformed Peter into Spider-Man to cure his terminal hereditary disease despite seeing the plans on his company’s database for a suit of power armour that grants accelerated healing to its wearer. He only dons the armour once the venom starts wreaking havoc on his nervous system – why didn’t he just climb in the armour and not bother with pumping this unpredictable substance into his body?
Andrew Garfield might be a good actor, but aside from THE SOCIAL NETWORK, I’m seeing very little evidence to prove it. He looks like someone confident pretending to be the opposite, and just tries too hard to play the gawky teen, full of unconvincing physical tics and quirks, plus his Spidey-zingers which he just about got away with last time are starting to feel stale. He does have one really good scene with Aunt May (thank God for Sally Field) but it doesn’t quite justify the amount of time we have to spend with him.
I’ve already talked about how the makers of ASM2 should have been sued by Warner Bros for plagiarising WATCHMEN, but they even rip off Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN 2 in that they have exactly the same scene to prompt Spidey’s return to duty – Aunt May is throwing out Uncle Ben’s stuff and wonders where on Earth New York’s favourite superhero has gone when the city needs him the most.
I’ll admit, Gwen Stacy’s death scene works. It’s quietly beautiful and pretty poignant, but it’s ruined in the film’s concluding scenes. Peter mopes around the graveyard for a while as the seasons flash past (how many times have we seen that?) then when he re-dons the red and blue for the finale, he’s exactly the same person. He still struts around and still cracks wise, and doesn’t seem to have learned anything.
At least someone at Sony came to their senses and cut a scene they filmed where Richard Parker (Campbell Scott) returned from beyond the grave. At least they didn’t ruin the only scene in the film that really worked. Peter’s dad has to die and it only remains affecting for the audience and important to the character’s development and driving motivation if he stays that way. SSP