Many critics have said that the film is over-stuffed. While I’d say that it is very ambitious, I disagree completely with the sentiment that the film tried to cram too much in and was unsuccessful at doing so. There is a lot going on: Peter’s lingering abandonment issues, quite a lot of development of the Peter-Gwen relationship, three villains popping up out of nowhere, and a continually brewing conspiracy. But in my view, this all seemed fairly balanced and well-portioned. A Spidey movie ought to have a lot of plates spinning in the air, and relationship drama should be a big part of that. The bulk of the critics are being too harsh on this movie, which is actually what compelled me to write this review.
story / plot
With all the hype about this film setting the stage for the Sinister Six (the ultimate team-up of Spidey villains), I thought we might see some familiar villain strategizing from the comics like, “Hey, you’re a bad guy, I’m a bad guy, let’s work together to kill Spider-Man.” My worry with this was that we’d see the spectacle of a major boss battle overtake the human and character elements of the film. Without giving too much away, of course there is some teaming-up, but it comes from sensible character motivations that flow from the plot and in just the right-sized dose.
The Spidey battles are all really satisfying, and the disparate plotlines eventually do weave together nicely.
Peter, Gwen, and Aunt May are well fleshed-out, and we grow to accept them all into our hearts a bit more now that we’re past the adjustment phase of the first movie. While Andrew Garfield’s Peter is still too cool and non-nerdy for my taste, we do get to feel more of his teen angst in this film, and he even does a little “science” and tinkering, which I did like. Overall, the main “good” characters are fairly static, just continuing on their natural trajectories from the first film. It is the villains that make the major character transformations, as exaggerated and lightning-quick as you might think a comic movie would contain. The good news is that these villains are more compelling than those in any other Spider-Man movie except maybe Raimi’s Doc Ock from Spider-Man 2.
Dane DeHaan’s turn as Harry Osborn was less enjoyable, but I did utter out loud during the movie that he was very well cast for the part. More than most actors, DeHaan can instantly switch from the creepiest beady-eyed runt to a glowing-faced, wide-grinning old friend. I did enjoy that range, and DeHaan really sold the whiny boarding school rich kid.
Paul Giamatti was a delight as Aleksei Sytsevich (The Rhino), proving that he can really inhabit any role you give him. He cracked my ass up.
I love what Sally Field brings to Aunt May. Field’s veteran skills really add a great deal of verisimilitude and make the scenes between her and Garfield have the proper weight.
I still have the stance that Andrew Garfield is a great Spider-Man, but not so great as Peter Parker. His Spidey-quips are spot-on, and he conveys very well the light-hearted confidence of the masked hero. And the chemistry is definitely there between him and Stone (it never hurts the on-screen romance when the actors are dipping their quill in the company ink). Garfield just can’t do enough to tone down the coolness, the confidence, the hair… to pull off the awkward geek Parker from the comics, which admittedly has been gradually diminished over the years as he’s matured in the books.
And though I didn’t see it in 3D, Cinemablend says the film’s 3D is worth it if you like that sort of thing.
I’d also like to note that I enjoyed the fact that this version of the Spidey suit is the closest any film has gotten to the traditional comic book costume, with the larger and whiter eyes and a simpler webline design.
as a comic book movie...
And like any good comic book movie, it sets up its sequels and growing cinematic universe with tantalizing hints at more to come.