I wanted to like The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Spider-Man has long been one of my favorite comic book characters. I collected the comic as a kid, I watched the cartoon, and I even fondly remember the TV show and movies starring Nicholas Hammond. I can honestly say, this is the worst Spider-Man has ever been to me. (I have not seen Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark though, so I can’t say it’s the worst ever.)
As this movie was being made, the more I heard about it, the more I wanted to see it. With big name actors like Paul Giamatti and Chris Cooper in key roles, I had no concerns about the acting ability in the movie. Sadly though, neither Paul Giatatti nor Chris Cooper was in the film for long. This is almost unforgivable, as Chris Cooper plays Norman Osborn—aka The Green Goblin—Spider-Man’s biggest foe. While I did (and still do) feel that Marc Webb was untested, I did enjoy the first of his Spider-Man movies as well as his other relatively recent movie, (500) Days of Summer. After seeing this movie, I question some of the choices that he made as a director, but I lay most of the movie’s problems at the feet of the script.
Two of the main writers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 are Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci. This team has written some big films in the past few years. They wrote Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, two movies that were (in my opinion) nothing but popcorn fluff.
Lest you think that I hate everything that they have ever done, they also wrote both of Abram’s Star Trek movies, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately, though, the dialogue in this particular film is terrible. The characters were underdeveloped and poorly written. The biggest problem with the script is that it is lazy. For instance, when searching for his father’s secret lab, Peter Parker literally finds it on the Internet with a picture of exactly what the lab looks like. The film is full of plot devices of convenience like this. (It is not surprising though. Kurtzman and Orci are also responsible for Sleepy Hollow.)
Even if you can get past the flaws in the script, the film falls short in special effects as well. In this case, the special effects that we are talking about have to do with the design of the two main villains, Electro and Harry Osborn. Electro looks like poor CG from the late 90s. Jaime Foxx is a very good actor but between the laughable low-rent Captain Midnite look of his character and the over-modulation on his voice, what could have been a strong role for him is rendered to be almost an afterthought. As for Harry Osborn, the design for him once he goes full-goblin is possibly the worst make-up job I have ever seen, and I have watched Face Off on SyFy, so I know bad make-up.
The movie did get one thing right though. Two defining moments in Spider-Man’s life are the death of Uncle Ben and the Gwen Stacey storyline. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets the Gwen Stacey storyline right. If you do not know what the Gwen Stacey story is, I implore that you do not look it up or spoil it for yourself if you’re going to see the movie or read the comics. If you do know it, you knew it was coming.
With all of that said, none of it matters. If you want to see this movie, go see it. Nothing that I can say will keep you from it. If you don’t want to, good for you. Go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier again. Go see The Grand Budapest Hotel. Stare at a wall if you have to. Just not a wall that this movie is playing on.
Seriously… that would have been better.