Too much of a good thing is wonderful according to famous artist Liberace, but Liberace wasn’t around anymore when Sam Raimi’s Spider-man 3 hit the screens in 2007, showing us that putting too many main bad guys in a movie is really too much of a good thing. When Spider-man rebooted two years ago with an entire cast and crew they were heading in the right direction. While the whole origin story of Spider-man could’ve been skipped, the inclusion of just The Lizard as the villain was a good choice. But ever since the Dark Knight comic book movies have to be full of plots and twists, they have to be epic instead of a simple story of one man going up against a villain. Having learned nothing from Spider-man 3 “The Amazing Spider-man 2” has not only Rhino, Electro and The Green Goblin but also a sub-plot involving Peter Parker’s parents, their involvement with Oscorp and his relationship with Gwen Stacy all while building up to The Sinister Six.
This movie takes place shortly after the first movie. It quickly sets up a variety of plots which will be either resolved in over two hours or function as a set-up for the inevitable Sinister Six movie. There’s Peter trying to combine his life as Spider-man with his personal life. There’s Max Dillon, a nerdy scientist with a Spider-man obsession who becomes Electro after a freak lab accident. There’s Norman Osborn who’s dying from some disease from the first movie which I couldn’t quite remember. This sets up Harry’s plot-line as he inherited this disease, gets control over Oscorp and wants Spidey’s blood to see if it can cure him. Then there’s the death of his parents which somehow seems to be connected to his own powers and Oscorp.
Now to be honest, Paul Giamatti’s Rhino is the least of this movie’s problems since he only has a cameo at the beginning and ending of the movie. But Electro and Green Goblin however are. As much as I loved the Spider-man characters when I was a kid, there are few that actually work on the big screen, and the ones that are chosen to feature on the screen are ones that I never cared much about. I never really liked the Green Goblin character and last movie’s Lizard also never was one of my favorites. So seeing the Green Goblin again in a Spider-man movie really was a downer for me. Let’s not forget it was pretty pointless to reboot the franchise ten years after the first trilogy started, so Dane DeHaan is the third Goblin after merely five movies. There are so many Spider-man villains yet they keep sticking with the Goblin. Electro is a decent villain, but his back story is a bit too similar to that of Jim Carrey’s Riddler in Batman Forever. Due to the amount of exposure is given Harry Osborn/Green Goblin and Peter’s quest for the truth about his parents Electro is pretty quickly dismissed during the first third of the movie, only to battle Spidey in one of the two final showdowns.
The problem isn’t purely the villains or the many plots inhabiting this movie. The makers apparently had a hard time to decide whether this franchise is supposed to be more darker than the Raimi movies. Those movies where bright in color, but his Spider-man didn’t joke all that much, at least not like he did in the comics anyway. Visually this movie continues the somewhat darker mood set in the first movie, but has Spider-man spouting one snappy remark after another. After Electro destroys some buildings and probably a couple dozen people in the progress Spidey responds with funny remarks. At one point we even seem him with a firehose and a fireman’s helmet on. It feels unnatural to be so cheery when people have just died all around you.
Now I might be a little harsh and making it sound like this is a really bad movie. While is seems to be more interested in setting up a Sinister Six movie, there are some redeeming elements. Unlike the “official” Marvel movies they actually kill people off in this franchise which ups the stakes for the characters and a surprise or two for the non-comic readers. The movie looks great and the web-slinging never felt so realistic. Despite some design flaws the way that their are going with characters like Rhino feels natural. Could you imagine a guy dressed in an actual Rhino suit? The tank approach they took now is the right way to go and it makes me interested in the other characters of which The Vulture and Dr. Octopus have already been teased. The acting by Stone and Garfield is good, though they are slowly becoming too old to play teenagers/young adults; time waits for no man.
I’m not sure what will be next, but I would have rather seen they teased a character like Venom in this movie only for him to be the central villain in the next.