Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Total Spoiler Review… so, you know, don't read this mess.

It was a bad day my friends, and one of my earliest memories.  My much older brother brought the comics, I was learning how to read, maybe five or six at the time and he had brought home a stack of .25 cent books… I know, right… including Spiderman #121.  The cover made it clear as day that somebody close to Peter Parker was gonna die, and even at the young age of five I figured it would be Robbie, because… well… he's Black.  This is 1973 we're talking about.  Freaking Richard Nixon was still president and the Civil Rights Act is like five years old.  But no, they killed Gwen Stacy.  I mean… that was probably too much for a five year old to deal with, because that's like Peter's girl.  I remember turning the pages back and forth hoping somehow, someway, something would change.  I still don't know if I've ever fully recovered from that, my first recollection of a pop culture event causing me mental duress.  The next one would come a few years later when James Evans Sr. died, but that's another story.  This brings us to the next Amazing Spiderman movie, in 'The Amazing Spiderman 2'.  We knew when this reboot chose Gwen Stacy as Peter Parker's love interest, eventually she had to die.  Just didn't know in which movie it would happen.  If I were Emma Stone's agent, I would have petitioned to put it off until the fifth or sixth film. 

The film starts off with Peter's dad Richard (Campbell Scott) trying do something or another with his research until eventually dying in a fiery crash.  I'm of the thought that the Richard Parker scenes don't add much to either this film or the last film, especially this one, outside of padding an overly long movie, and giving Peter (Andrew Garfield) more things to angst over, and Peter Parker doesn't really need additional things to angst over.  There's the pressure of being Spiderman and constantly saving helpless New Yorkers who for the life of themselves cannot get out of the way
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of flying motor vehicles, there's the angst of dealing with Aunt May (Sally Field) and her numerous issues, there's the angst of trying to graduate from high school which is heightened by Peter being close to thirty, and of course there's the problem of Gwen (Emma Stone).  He loves her, her dad said stay away, he can't stay away, she can't stay away, they break up, they get back together… repeat… all of this just makes the whole daddy issue thing piling on. 

Who is Spidey's nemesis this time?  This time we have Electro (Jamie Foxx).  We're not going to get into how the character of Max Dillon became Electro or why he, for no real reason, hates Spiderman, especially considering this whole story arc gave us real bad flashbacks to 'Superman III', but Electro is one of our main villains.  The other, I guess, is Harry Osborn and the Green Goblin.  Again, however, the path taken from semi-normal person to razor toothed, Spiderman hating super villain is a clunky one.  And always in the middle is Gwen Stacy… and her dead dad… it's complicated… with Gwen doing her very best to try to die the good death.  Seriously, the girl has to be part Viking / part Klingon with how hard she was trying to die. 

Looking back, I wasn't all that crazy about 'The Amazing Spiderman', feeling it was a movie designed for a couple of generations before me… despite me and Andrew Garfield being about the same age… but ultimately I still thought it was pretty good.  This one… I'm not so sure about.  Dare I say that I even liked Sam Raimi's much maligned 'Spiderman 3' more than this one?  Peter doesn't dance to show tunes in this one, which still might keep this movie above that one, but it's kind of close.  From where I was sitting, a lot of the same issues that plague that movie come back to plague this one in that it's far too busy, there are way too many super villains to deal with, it's overly long and there is a preponderance of melodrama to deal with.  But here's the thing about the Peter / Gwen melodrama in that it's arguably the best thing about this movie.  This is helped immensely by Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy being so much more appealing and approachable than Kirsten Dunst's hateful version of Mary Jane.  Even though Peter and Gwen's constant breaking up was starting to grate on a nerve, I have to admit the characters of Peter and Gwen were both dynamic and they drove this film forward.

It's all the other stuff that took me away from the moment, and if ever there was a movie with a lot of 'stuff' in it, it's this movie.  Harry Osborn has a story that needs to be told, but it's half-told because there just isn't time to properly tell his story and deal with Peter and Gwen and Electro and elongated action sequences and Aunt May and the daddy issues.  For instance, in the first Spiderman movie in 2002, Harry was always there with Peter, more or less, so his story was kind of developing along with Peter's so there was no real need to take time out to tell his story, so when Harry eventually becomes his version of the Green Goblin, it flowed better.  Here, Harry and Peter spent about five minutes together, in which we are told they were best friends, though Garfield and Dane DeHaan really couldn't establish this dynamic in the little time they were given together.  This just leads to another detached, elongated action sequence with no real meaning.  Except the final result which was pulled right out of Spiderman #121.

I guess the word I'd have to use to sum up my feelings about 'The Amazing Spiderman 2' is 'unsatisfying'.  Fewer villains, less extemporaneous filler, and a touch more focus would've made for a more coherent film.  If one were to ask me.
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