Marc Webb brings us his second installment in his Spider-Man saga and for me it landed with a big thud, a one hundred and forty-two minute long thud. This time out Spider-Man tries to give us more banter and quips than what we got in the Sam Raimi films, and we do get more, they just aren’t all that funny. I actually found most of the humor in this film to be drawing from the Superman III school of comedy with lame physical shtick that was old when I love Lucy original aired.
The last film ended [Spoilers] with Peter (Andrew Garfield) swearing to Captain Stacey that he wouldn’t date Gwen (Emma Stone) so that her life wouldn’t be endangered by the craziness that is life with Spidey, but then he quickly realized that Captain Stacey was dead so “Fuck him.” Now our story today begins with the two dating, but Peter is being haunted by the ghost of Dennis Leary so he rethinks his original idea about honoring a dead guy and breaking it off with Gwen…again. *sigh* I don’t think there is anything more tiring than the “Will they, won’t they?” bit we are constantly saddled with in romantic comedies and sitcoms. Sometimes it’s the entire premise of a show, and fine if that’s what your shows is about then by all means have at it, but if your story is about a wall crawling super-hero I find this to be the least interesting thing you can do, and if you have to do it please limit the screen time. Maybe if your characters were more interesting a romantic subplot could have worked, but I found almost everyone in this movie to be bland and boring. And would someone please tell Hollywood screen writers that woman don’t actually find an ex-boyfriend stalking them to be adorable.
Let’s talk villains. Max Dillon (Jamie Fox) is basically playing Selina Kyle/Catwoman from Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. He is a nebbish loser who works for the villain and is constantly abused and tread upon until one day an accident gives him super powers, but instead of cats swarming around him it’s a tank full of electric eels. Another thing that bothered me was that Max goes from Spidey super-fan to Electro “Die Spider-Man!” in a matter of seconds with no motivation other than he’s nuts. I guess we’re supposed to feel sorry for this guy because he has no friends, but once again I really couldn’t get invested in the charcter. And as for his look…well let’s just say if he was sued by Doctor Manhattan I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
Harry Osborn (Dane DeHann) is treated even worse by this screenplay. Harry in the comic books was Peter’s best friend in high school, and in this movie we are told that this was the case, but right out of the gate Dehann’s Harry is downright creepy and villainous, we never get to see the “good side” of Harry. Being told in clunky expository dialogue that people have history is poor screenwriting, if we are supposed to care what happens between two people we need some kind of actual groundwork laid for that. And, as with the character shift with Electro, it seemed really rushed. Harry goes from inheriting a billion dollar company to being betrayed, being ousted from his own company, and turned murderous psycho in record time. The filmmakers have a lot of plot and characters to juggle so they don’t have time to slow down and develop them. Also the design of the Green Goblin is just terrible; it’s a cross between Feyd’ratha in David Lynch’s Dune and a leprous pirate ghost.
The Rhino (Paul Giamatti) is a glorified cameo, and with a movie that already contains Electro and the Green Goblin this is pretty much how it had to be handled so no points lost for that. That said the robot rhino suit looked ridiculous and the people on the design team should go back to working on Power Rangers. (Note: Spidey’s costume is a marked improvement from the last film)
There was an element in the movie that really worked, any time Spider-Man is swinging through the city or bouncing around in combat it is pure cinema gold. It’s also the only parts of the film were the 3D effects show off. Sadly whenever Andrew Garfield opens his mouth to talk I want someone to stick a sock in it. In Marc Webb’s first Spider-Man movie my biggest problem was that Peter Parker was a bit of a douche, well he amps that up to eleven for this sequel. Peter Parker was the one superhero I could relate to when I was a kid and to see him turned into a tool is depressing. Poor characters, awful pacing and terrible character designs have this film giving Spider-Man 3 a run for its money as the worst Spidey.