Adapted by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner from The Night Gwen Stacy Died by Gerry Conway.
Not gonna lie, I think The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is underrated. No, it isn’t on the level of The Amazing Spider-Man, or Spider-Man 2, but then no Spider-Man is on the level of Spider-Man 2, and a lot of fans seem to be upset about the reboot and are being, in my subjective opinion, too harsh.
For a start, we have Andrew Garfield, who’s a terrific actor and one that deserved a Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Social Network. In a story about Spider-Man, it’s important that he’s likeable, and the initial scene featuring him is the best short form presentation of a Spider-Man, because it’s the most fun and thrilling sequence of them. Marc Webb seems to be the first director to realise the potential of using perspective shots while swinging between buildings, and the way he enters after the prologue is a masterstroke – to have the logo appear on screen, and then become a part of a shot in-which Spider-Man descends from the sky, following him through the action. It’s perfect.
The story does try to be too many things, that can be said, and it wouldn’t be wrong too. At times, there are very uninteresting divulgences to Harry Osborn, Max Dillon and other characters, and those scenes reak of Garfield’s absence. Quite frankly, we don’t see enough of him, because this is his story. A lot of the problems I’ve read of it could be mostly eliminated if the story were experienced through his perspective. It would be more compact, more personal and have a better through-line; the constant repetition of “hope” became annoying after only a few times – a repeated word doesn’t make it a theme.
The tangents from Peter Parker’s storyline involves Osborn discovering his hereditary disease, and Dillon’s transformation into Electro. These scenes are relevant, but badly executed logically and believably. The Amazing Spider-Man established a universe of science, whereas Dillon’s transformation comes-about because of what’s almost fantasy. It feels out of touch in a story otherwise dominated by a world that at least looks realistic. In fact, it’s difficult to tell why Dillon’s there. All he does is transform into Electro, cause trouble for no real reason (Parker forgot his name once) and then be destroyed in the climax in a way that looks as if he’s just teleporting away again. And then there’s Alexei Systevitch, who’s seen as Rhino in the final scene, bookending his appearance at the beginning. Again, a character with no real reason to be here. The only one who has any sort of interesting qualities is Osborn, and even then he becomes Green Goblin in a sequence that looks brought-forward from a sequel, and who’s only there to fulfil one purpose: kill Gwen Stacy. And only Green Goblin can do that, because – one of the phrases I hate the most – “that’s how it is in the comics”.
As I often mention in Spider-Man reviews, the best theme each installment has is dualism. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks to be continuing this theme, but it fails to put the right pieces together. Story-telling often works by removing irrelevant parts and creating something that could only exist in such an order. Instead, there’s baggage that should have been done-away with, but that’s because there is a good story here. It’s just not given the spotlight it deserves.
The good parts of the story are Parker’s relationship with Gwen, the revelations about his Father, and his life with May Parker. Osborn’s the villain with the most impact, despite his reduced screentime. Had Dillon, Systevitch and other attempts to launch sequels and spinoffs been removed, we could have had a moving love story between four starcrossed people, brought together in the most unlikely of circumstances, that would have also given time to develop Osborn’s transformation into Green Goblin, rather than it just happening. Everything here could have worked, had it been edited differently, which is surprising because the launch was preceded by stories of other parts being cut anyway, such as Shailene Woodley’s presence as Mary Jane Watson. Honestly, this would definitely have been a bad idea. It would have just complicated matters, and taken Parker away from Stacy. Really, Watson should be introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man 3 as a friend of Parker’s and see if any relationship comes of it, which is unlikely as Marvel Studios are probably about to get the rights back, and – if reports are correct – would reduce the romantic side of the character.
Really, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 interests me so much because of what wasn’t done with it, and is an important lesson in filmmaking. Yes, there is baggage. A tonne of it. And yes, the important parts that felt as if they actually should have been there are overshadowed by the parts included just for the franchise. But the things to like about it outweigh the things to dislike about it, even if it’s only by a bit.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2: excessive plotlines, no less likeable. 6/10