It’s hard to believe, given the run of quality that’s spoiled comic book fans over the last decade, that someone could make a film that so completely misses the target audience. I honestly thought films of the quality of Elektra and Batman & Robin were behind us. I was wrong. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not just a misstep; it’s a mind-boggling disaster of a film. In reaching to create a universe around the character, Sony has instead taken the very foundations of what it should have used to build and destroyed them. It is, quite simply, one of the worst comic book adaptations in recent years, and I want to reiterate that there are MAJOR SPOILERS to follow.
I cannot recall the last time a movie made me as angry as this film did. It’s not just a wasted opportunity; it’s a legendary swing and a miss. The film takes the most pivotal, most heart-rending story in the character’s history; one of the best in all of comics, and throws it away in a manner so cavalier that I wanted to walk out of the theater when I saw what they were doing.
As opposed to the first ASM, which was criticized for taking too MUCH time to let things breathe and told a very decompressed origin story, ASM2 doesn’t take a single second to tell a story. It flits from potential plot point to plot point, never settling long enough to make anything matter, never building character and makes the tiresome error of jamming too many villains into their story. By now, this is inexcusable. This has been the downfall of comic book movies since Batman Returns and, despite Nolan’s magic ability to make it work in his films, it’s a blunder that no one can claim ignorance on anymore.
I’m not sure why Electro is in this movie. I guess he’s the main villain because he has the most screen time, but he doesn’t have any lasting impact and we don’t know anything about him other than he’s insecure, has wince-inducing dialogue and is eventually beaten by an eighth grade science experiment (no exaggeration).
The tone of the film is, there’s no other word for it, campy. It’s TOO jokey. It’s 1990’s comic book film dialogue and that would be bad in a film that just had a showdown between Spidey and a B-list villain like Electro, but that’s not the true antagonist.
The Osborns are introduced. Harry (DeHaan) is back from boarding school and he and Peter have one or two scenes together before Harry becomes the main villain of the piece having taken over Oscorp after they kill off Norman Osborn after ONE SCENE IN THE ENTIRE MOVIE!!! He and Harry have one scene together and then they announce he’s dead on a newscast. Whaaaa? You cast an Oscar-winning actor like Chris Cooper. You gave him one of the biggest villains in the Marvel canon. You kill him off-screen after one scene?
Harry, it turns out, has the same disease Norman does and he’s convinced the cure will be Spider-Man’s blood (not sure why, nothing is really explained in-depth). Peter wants to help his friend, but he thinks giving him his blood will make him worse, since he’s discovered his father’s secret research lair and knows the spider that bit him was being experimented on with DNA linked to his bloodline. Harry then goes and finds the venom from those spiders (apparently kept in Oscorp’s storage unit) and injects himself and turns into, TADA, The Green Goblin.
I’ve often complained about the Raimi trilogy’s handling of The Green Goblin. I’m going to shut up about that. The Goblin looks awful. Looks so awful it would be laughable if the first thing Harry didn’t do upon becoming the Green Goblin was ambush Peter and Gwen after they’d just beaten Electro and then proceed to have a fight with them in a clock tower that results in THE DEATH OF GWEN STACY. With no set up. With no respect of the most pivotal event in the character’s life post-origin, they kill Gwen off. Then, after a few scenes of Peter staring at her grave, they honest-to-God have a scene telling you that we all need to move on. CAPTAIN Stacy got a more respectful death in the last film. This is the biggest key to Peter’s overall psyche as a hero. It defines him. He never gets over this. Gwen’s death should be shattering. The Death of Gwen Stacy is widely regarded as one of the most important storylines in comic history. They treated it like a throwaway because they were so eager to trot out….THE RHINO! Yes, the Rhino is your big film-finisher.
I’m done with this Spideyverse. I not only never want to see this film again, I don’t want to see the third or fourth or fifth or the spin-offs. This film was a mess on every level, but I could’ve forgiven that. What I can’t forgive is the stunning lack of respect to the characters given in this film. Nothing can fix the hole they dug themselves into with this disaster. This is not only the worst Spider-Man film ever made, it’s one of the worst comic book adaptations I’ve ever seen. I hope Godzilla smashes this film to pieces. It deserves to be forgotten as soon as possible and as soon as it stops making me mad, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing: forgetting I ever saw it.
1.50/10 (all points for Emma Stone; RIP Gwen)