Right then, I’m going to break this review down into two very specific parts, the short beginning where I’ll give a brief run down of what I liked and didn’t like so much, and give an overall impression and then we’ll move onto the bulk of this review where I’ll go into more detail. Needless to say, the second part of this post will be so heavily reliant on spoilers that if you haven’t seen it, just check out the first bit and leave it at that, yeah? Ok, cool, let’s get this rolling then.
Clocking in at a whopping 142 minutes run time, even for a huge Spidey fan like myself it does feel like a bit of a slog at times. It’s a fairly slow starting film, then it begins to drag it’s heels around the middle before finding it’s feet again for the climatic third act. There were most certainly scenes that I felt could have been cut shorter and some dropped altogether to help move things along a little better, but I get what Sony are trying to do with this film. The acting was sublime from all the main cast, much like the first film, and the main plot was simple enough for anyone to enjoy while having enough punch to it to keep me engaged. The news swirling around the internet before the film came out that there would be three villains showing up in this film had me a little concerned, but only one is in the whole film, another shows up in the latter part of the second act and the final villain was properly shown off in the final moments, so thankfully it didn’t get bogged down in serious villain origin time. As mentioned before, being a big fan of both 616 and Ultimate Spider-Man I loved what Webb has done with this series so far, and I think Andrew Garfield is THE perfect Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Save for a few bits I felt could have been cut or dropped, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and will absolutely be hitting this up on Blu-Ray when it drops in stores. I may even go and see it at the cinema again. Recommended for the fans of Spider-Man and those who enjoy a good superhero movie, but be prepared for the length and be aware that this is a film clearly intended to set up the rest of the franchise Sony wants too.
Right then, just so we’re clear here… SPOILERS AHEAD. I REPEAT, MAJOR FILM SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
So the movie kicks off looking back at the events that directly followed on from Peter being dropped off at Ben and May’s, showing what happens to Richard and Mary Parker. We get to see that Richard was trying to warn the world that Oscorp was into some serious devious stuff, sending research notes and evidence off to a secure location called Roosevelt while trying to escape retribution from his former boss with his wife on a jet. It’s a little slow paced, and rather shockingly this whole situation from the point of Peter wandering into his father’s ransacked office to the jet going down and Peter’s parents apparently dying (let’s face it, it’s not entirely off the table that at least Richard is still alive, we don’t really see him die) takes approximately 40 minutes to play out. Frankly, I think that a fair amount of this section alone could have been cut back by half at least, I see what they wanted to do and yeah, I wanted to see more of the Parker parents, but I think it was a little too much and made me feel a little disengaged from the film, which is definitely a bad thing for the opening sequence.
Following on from this we get a hell of a lot of time played out for the on-off relationship of Gwen and Peter, again something I felt was done really well but probably could have been stripped down a little. I think it worked as well as it did just because of how amazing (going to try and limit my use of that word today) Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are, both on screen together and individually as actors. They have a wonderful chemistry, which is no surprise, but they dealt with their own characters issues very well. Peter is still reeling from the death of Captain Stacy, clearly showing serious signs of guilt over his death and the fact that he’s broken his final promise to the Captain that he’d leave Gwen well out of his crazy life. This culminates in them deciding to split, or rather Gwen finally having enough of him being unable to fully commit to her. I love that they put this relationship front and centre for a portion of the film, and while I think a couple of bits here and there could have possibly been shortened a little, the reality is if that level of focus hadn’t been used then the events later in the film would have been less hard hitting. But I’ll get to that shortly.
The scenes with Spider-Man were thrilling to say the least, and even though I viewed ASM 2 in 2D, the web slinging around the city and the action scenes involving Spidey made me wish I’d seen it in 3D. No matter what’s going on in Pete’s life, there’s always a sense of overwhelming joy when he’s flinging himself around the city on his webs, and this is something the film plays on to great effect. It fills me with a great sense of joy too. What we also see from Garfield’s performance is the huge rift in confidence between Parker and Spidey, they’re pretty much two different people. His quips and jokes while he has the costume on are fantastic, and despite it’s gut wrenching ending ASM 2 provides an incredible sense of humour almost all the way through. When he’s in the back of the Oscorp truck at the start, trying to hold onto all the radioactive containers it’s a very simple, almost slapstick style humour which suits the film so well. One of my absolute favourite moments was quite far through when he’s having his final showdown with Electro, who shall be covered next, after already dubbing him Sparkles. Electro has taken down power across the whole city and says something along the lines of “They shall know me as a god!” and Peter turns it back on him with “What? A God called Sparkles?”. I was almost in tears with that, absolutely genius writing and pulled off perfectly by Garfield.
Now, Electro, the first of the three villains established in this film was awesome. Played by Jamie Foxx, he goes from a very nervous and near enough invisible man to a commanding and fearsome villain. His origin is typical comic book stuff, falls into a tank of water filled with electric eels while holding a live cable and is presumed dead, then boom! Villain with control over electricity. What was interesting is that when he gained his abilities he was still the mild mannered engineer he was before gaining these powers, what tipped him over the edge was Spidey not recognising him (he’d been saved by Spidey earlier and was a huge, obsessive fan), the news feed on all the big screens switching focus from him to Spidey and a police sniper taking a shot at him. All this combined proved too much for Max Dillon to cope with, and he flipped out. It made him into a pretty sympathetic villain, showing that it wasn’t Max’s fault he became this way and that he wasn’t just some total psychopath that gained powers, similar to what they did with Kurt Connors in the first ASM. And the final battle between Electro and Spider-Man was a real spectacle to behold.
The second villain that made his first appearance of this rebooted series was the Green Goblin, and refreshingly it wasn’t Norman Osborne that kicked it off first time round. Norman dies quite early on and leaves control of the company in the hands of Harry, the long absent childhood friend of Peter. Turns out that Norman died of a disease passed from generation to generation within his family, warning Harry in his final moments that it would start to affect him soon and he needed to find a cure. Well, this leads him down the path of deciding the blood of Spider-Man will save him, and when Spider-Man refuses he loses his shit completely and tracks down some of the venom extracted from the experimental spiders that were destroyed when Richard was about to blow the whistle. Thing is, the venom was encoded to only work with Parker DNA, so, to be blunt, it fucks Harry over and turns him into the Goblin. He jumps in the suit, which basically saves his life, and goes off in search of Spider-Man who he feels is fully to blame for the state he has been left in. The ridiculous mask from the last film series has been done away with, going instead with a totally messed up face, and the armour looks absolutely badass. And bringing us back around to the actors, Dane DeHaan is superb as both Harry and Goblin, showing he can play the role of scheming, power hungry rich kid and full blown nut job in style, he absolutely nails it.
The main thing I think is worth noting with Green Goblin though, is he has (I think) two major reasons for being around in this film. The first one was to set things up for one of the spin off movies, the Sinister Six. Oscorp has already developed wings for whoever will eventually be The Vulture, they’ve made Doc Ock’s robotic arms and they provided the suit for Rhino, the villain who gets a brief appearance at the end. Thankfully, one thing the writers and Webb did extremely well was tie in the lead in to that spin off with the fallout from ASM 2 seamlessly. It didn’t feel tacked on, everything was tied to the forward motion of the main plot with Harry teaming up with Electro before becoming Goblin. The other main pull for bringing in Goblin was a little darker. Who else could they have help cause the death of Gwen Stacy? Realistically, no one, and now there will be a burning hatred between these two and with good reason both ways.
And boy, that death hit me like several tonnes of falling conrete. I loved all the back and forth between Gwen and Peter and there’s a scene which has them both stood at the top of a bridge and I’m sitting there waiting for Goblin to show up and throw her off. He doesn’t, and much like many others that know how she dies in the comics, I sighed a breath of relief, thinking that Webb had thrown us a huge red herring and that, maybe, she’d be ok. What actually ends up happening is after the fight with Electro when Goblin does show up, he tkaes her up to the top of a clock tower where the two rivals face off, and drops her. At first, Pete saves her and drops her on some of the inner workings of the clock, and it’s a little tight but looks like things might be ok. Then she drops again, and we have this long, slow motion scene of Pete shooting a web at her to catch her. It just about creeps through falling parts of the clock, slowly reaching Gwen and reaching out like a hand to grab her, only when it does it quickly and violently speeds back up to regular speed. She stops just before hitting the ground, but way too sharply and there is a spie chilling, gut wrenching crack as she stops. At this point, you know. You know he’s misjudged it, he’s almost saved her, but not quite and exactly what Captain Stacy feared has happened. It hit really, really hard. I still can’t shake that scene from my head any time anyone mentions the film, I don’t think I will for a while. I’ll be damned if I can find a screenshot of it anywhere, but trust me when I say it is some seriously grim viewing. Not much shakes me up, but that did.
I can sort of put that down to the fact that I hate to see my heroes fail, and what bigger failure is there than that? Just to top it off, since I can remember Spider-Man has always been a favourite hero of mine, it hurts to see and then you get Garfield reaction to her death and it literally breaks him. It’s such a powerful scene, it makes the Superman reaction to killing Zod look pretty pathetic in comparison. I know that scene doesn’t hold up well for a lot of people so that may not mean much if you’re one of those, but I thought while the killing was wrong Henry Cavill’s reaction afterwards was pretty powerful. Garfield shows him how it’s done here, it’s nuts.
We then get a nice little through-the-months montage type thing where Pete has sacked off being Spidey completely and looks as though he’s put the rest of his life on hold to grieve. Something you can hardly blame him for really, this is something he rightly feels responsible for. But he’s drawn back into the game when he hears reports of Rhino smashing things up, directly answers his challenge and throws himself back into it. It’s a nice way to finish up, they don’t dwell for too long on Peter moping around feeling like crap, but what they do show is adequetly impactful.
All the key players in this film did a wonderful job in bringing one of the greatest heroes in comics to life, and I have a lot of faith in this series. This film was meant as a set up for this new franchise direction Sony have decided on in the wake of the success they achieved with the first ASM and the success garnered from The Avengers, I think that accounts for the slightly excessive length of the film. There are also some plot threads that won’t get paid off until the next ASM at least, so you have to go into this film now knowing that you’re in it for the long game. This is the only real downside to franchise building, and I think to an extent Sony have possibly over played that a bit in this installment. One thing Marvel/Disney have done very well is organically grow this interwinding multi movie cinematic universe where everything and everyone work together without forcing the issue, with ASM 2 this franchise building feels a little artificial like they’re trying a little too hard at it. Still, it made for a largely enjoyable film and regardless of it’s faults with dragging some things out a bit, I already hold this rebooted series in a much higher regard than I do the original Raimi series. Which I hated. So there’s that.
Oh, and there was someone called Felicia in it, Harry’s PA. Which was awesome and very exciting (I’m a big Black Cat fan too and who else is it going to be, really?).
I know there are a few more things I could go over here, but I think I’m going to cap myself here before I end up writing a full blown essay. Thank you for stopping by and checking out my opinion on the film. I know there were some negatives in there but it is most definitely in my recommended watch pile, I still came away from the cinema a very happy, if a little shell shocked, Spidey fan. That’s all folks!