The Amazing Spider-Man 2
My Grade: C+
This is a movie that's been much maligned by both critics and audiences over the last week or two since it was released in various countries. And, honestly, I'm not too sure on why it's getting the vitriol it's been getting, some fans and critics likening it to, what is pretty universally seen as the worst comic book movie, Batman and Robin.
TASM2 is by no means perfect but it's not B&R bad.
The franchise rebooting Spider-Man movie from a couple years ago wasn't too bad, it was probably a bit better, and truer, take on the character and his mythos (Gwen Stacy as his first love/crush, mechanical web-shooters) while taking a slightly more serious tone more in line with how most comic-book inspired movies are these days. (The Tobey McGuire movies being pretty heavy in camp.) This movie tries to build on that and, in all honesty, it does come across a bit muddy in wanting to do too much at once while not being too sure in how to do it. Which is probably where some of the B&R comparisons come from.
In B&R we not only had a new actor for Batman but a movie tried to help build the Batman/Robin dynamic more, introduce Batgirl, two major villains in the mythos while also giving some secondary nods to another major villain (but using him poorly) all the while doing it in an over-the-top manner filled with 1960s era TV Batman camp.
Say what you want about ASM2 it's not trying to do camp, but it is a bit muddy in what it *does* want to do. It tries to carry on the plot thread from the first movie of Peter trying to find out what happened to his birth parents, it deals with his struggles with balancing his superhero life with trying to live a normal life dating Gwen Stacy (in conflict with a promise he made to her father before he died), introduces a friendship fans of the character knew likely existed but it seems like it was in this movie unnaturally as it's clunkily introduced. It then tries to set-up two major villains from the SM mythos while also having a major character moment for the character straight out of the comics.
It's a movie with a lot on its plate and like a kid who ate too many cookies before dinner it ends up pushing these scraps around for a while before it really has to deal with them at the end. Then pretty much dumps half of them on the floor for the dog to eat.
Which is probably the biggest problem in this movie. It doesn't *entirely* know what to do. One of our villains is "Electro" a man who has complete mastery over electricity and in this movie adaptation actually IS electricity. He gets his powers by being electrocuted by a main conduit in a power plant and then falling in a pool full of electric eels.
Granted, our hero gets his powers from being bitten by a spider but at least there's hand waving that it was a genetically altered spider. It's not too clear how simply being electrocuted made Electro.
Anyway, Elecrto has confrontation with Spider-Man in Times Square where Electro is disappointed Spider-Man doesn't remember him (from a random encounter they had while he was human at the beginning of the movie) and then gets upset with Spider-Man when a random cop shoots him. That's literally all of the motivation Electro has for hating Spider-Man.
Spider-Man didn't remember him at first and didn't stop a cop from shooting at him.
Spidey is able to subude Electro who is then contained in a NYC facility until he's needed in the third act.
Then there's Harry Osborne, a child hood friend of Peter's but they haven't seen each other since grade-school it seems. (Pretty much an eternity in child-hood terms considering puberty is in there and one of them was a rich kid in boarding school) The two rekindle their friendship almost instantly.
Harry was in town to meet with his father on his death bed from a genetic illness. Oscorp is passed on to Harry as Norman dies and all of the sudden Harry, at 20-something, has this genetic illness kick into overdrive requiring Harry to need treatment NOW rather than in 40-50 years considering the age of his father. Harry assumes Spider-Man's blood can help cure him due to Spider-Man's regenerative powers.
Spider-Man refuses, pissing Harry off, driving him to desperation where he injects himself with the experimental spider venom sealed away deep in Oscorp which has a very negative reaction to Harry who mutates to some degree but has his mutation stalled by putting on the Goblin suit.
Again, it doesn't make much sense how Harry got from A-to-B, his motivations aren't clear and it just seems like it happens because it needs to happen.
Harry had teamed up with Electro in order to steel the venom from Oscorp (as Harry had been "fired" and locked out of the building) and to accomplish this he breaks Electro out of a high-security prison. Electro breaks away to get revenge on Oscorp for stealing his power-plant ideas without giving him credit and to get back at Spider-Man over whatever.
In the middle of all of that Peter and Gwen have some relationship struggles, especially after Gwen decides to go to Oxford to attend school. And the bulk of the movie centers around that, there's major action sequences in the beginning and the end and the middle is largely filled with the personal drama between Peter and Gwen, Peter/Spidey and Harry, and Electo and his stereotype of a prison mental-health professional.
Look, I'll admit this movie is a mess. But it's still somehow sort of fun and enjoyable. I, for one, really liked the combination of music and Electro using his powers (there's a scene where he uses his powers to electrify towers at a powerplant to make electro-punk sounds to taunt Spider-Man.) But that's something I've seen criticized a lot as well.
I still walked out of this movie enjoying it and I think the last few minutes of it could have but cut out, improving the movie vastly, but I'll admit it had problems. I really think a big moment in it could have been done a lot better, for example.
Still I had some fun and look forward to where the franchise goes from here.