Rating: 1.5 Stars
The following review contains spoilers.
What is this movie even about?
One storyline is about Peter once again trying to figure out why his parents left him. It’s so stupid that I am saving it for the “Worst Parts” section below.
Another is about a put-upon loser and Spider-Man obsessive, played by Jamie Foxx, accidentally becoming Electro and almost immediately deciding he actually hates Spider-Man and wants to kill him. That’s all there is to that one.
Another is about Harry Osborn, Peter’s previously unmentioned best friend from 10 years ago, coming back into town, inheriting Oscorp, discovering he’s dying from an incurable disease, and asking Peter to help him get a vial of Spider-Man’s blood to cure him. The justification here is that Peter takes pictures of Spider-Man for the Daily Bugle, but there’s never a scene set there, J. Jonah Jameson does not appear, and the entirety of Peter’s interaction with his “job” is him emailing the Bugle some pictures. Anyway, Peter refuses to give Harry his blood because what if Harry becomes like the Lizard? Anyway, who cares? Norman lived a long life and accomplished a hell of a lot with this disease, but Harry degenerates so quickly he seems like he’s about to dissolve any minute.
And finally there’s a “storyline” about Peter and Gwen’s relationship, which is just a series of scenes where they break-up and flirt about getting back together and break-up again, etc. It seems like something is happening because they’re attractive actors and good at flirting, but nothing ever actually happens.
Spider-Man seems like slightly less of a prick than he did in the last one. He is briefly shown saving people. Some of his jokes are okay. He feels at least a tiny bit of guilt over breaking his promise to a dying Captain Stacy.
The costume looks pretty good. I like the rippling fabric. I like the eyepieces.
The action looks pretty good. I liked the opening car chase/fight for the most part. I liked the confrontation with Electro in Times Square for the most part. I liked that Spider-Man at first tries to talk to Electro before fighting him.
The stuff with Peter’s parents is so poorly-done, so uninteresting, and so disconnected from everything else it’s almost like the filmmakers felt obligated to include it but actually hated it. Nothing that happens in this storyline makes even a lick of sense. Let’s put the sequence of events in chronological order:
Richard Parker was working on fusing human and spider DNA for Oscorp, side by side with Norman Osborn and I guess Curt Connors. He secretly coded the spiders so they would only work with his DNA, which is why Peter eventually becomes Spider-Man (Special Destiny! Magic Blood!). At some point Richard, a middle-class scientist, sets up a secret laboratory in an unused subway station (consisting of a subway car on hydraulics that is operated by custom subway tokens, which he stores in his calculator). Then Richard learns that Norman Osborn, who desperately needs this project to work to cure his degenerative disease, is actually selling the research to make biological weapons.
Richard tries to shut down the program, takes his notes, and goes home. He makes a recording in his basement explaining how none of this is his fault, then takes his son to his brother’s house, and then charters a private plane (again, middle-class scientist) to take his wife to Lake Geneva in Europe. Then and only then does he decide to upload the video he made, using the very good internet connection one has on a plane circa the year 2000-ish, in case something happens to him, but only sends it to his secret subway lab that no one else knows about. This upload also contains no actionable information or evidence that what he’s saying is true. He and his wife are quickly, and some would say deservedly, murdered, and the airplane crashes.
Also, Peter spends both of these movies obsessed with learning more about his father, and never gives one thought to his mother, who is a complete empty shell.
The Electro storyline start from nothing and goes nowhere. The angle that he is a Spider-Man super-fan could be completely taken out and it wouldn’t change anything. Spider-Man’s plan to defeat him at the power plan is to kill him, which is (or should be) out of character. Jamie Foxx is playing the character as if in a Joel Schumacher-directed Batman film instead of the one he’s actually in. The moment when he turns evil, dramatized by hearing a death metal song in his head telling him everyone’s against him, is dumb.
The Green Goblin storyline is a complete joke. It’s like they read a Wikipedia article about Green Goblin being Spider-Man’s greatest villain and killing Gwen Stacy being his most evil act, and then through it in on a whim. There is no build-up whatsoever. Harry didn’t exist in the last movie, now he’s Peter’s best friend. He gets super-powers, immediately kills Gwen Stacy within a couple minutes, and then is defeated and imprisoned. It’s the worst kind of thoughtless adaptation, and it means nothing.
And anyone at Sony who had the power to stop that Green Goblin design from being used in the movie and didn’t should never be allowed to work on another film.
Peter Parker is still way too cool a dude. Everyone loves him. He makes it to his High School Graduation at the last minute, high-fiving the principal and kissing his girlfriend on stage. Everyone also loves Spider-Man. The cops praise him and wish he’d interfere with their jobs even more. He is apparently going to college but we never see it. He doesn’t seem to have a real job except for occasionally emailing pictures to the Bugle. He still lives at home and mooches off his Aunt May. He quits being Spider-Man for six months after Gwen dies. And the movie has no clue about any of this, or how it comes across, and in the end of two movies, he’s still basically learned nothing and not changed as a character in any way.
Paul Giamatti is absurdly miscast. I remember actually being excited about his casting, because he’s so good, and naively assuming they must have a new take on the Rhino character that would utilize Giamatti’s strengths. Nope.
What the hell is going on with Dr. Kafka? He’s the only other character besides Electro that seems to be in a Joel Schumacher Batman. And why change the character to male?
At the funeral near the end, seeing the tearful Stacy family, I couldn’t help but wonder, if this franchise had any more sequels, which supervillains would murder the rest of them? After two in a row with the same ending, if the rest didn’t end with a Stacy funeral, something would feel off.