written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
First off, let me preface this with the fact that I did enjoy the original re-boot of the Spider-Man franchise. Though like many others I felt this re-boot was a bit too soon, but after the horrendous taste left in my mouth after Spider-Man 3, I was open to seeing someone new slip into Spidey's spandex.
In this big budget sequel, much of the principle cast returns with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone reprising the roles of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy respectively. New comers include Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, Lawless) as Harry Osborne and Academy Award Winner Jamie Foxx (Ray, Django Unchained) as primary villain Max Dillon/Electro. Picking up shortly after the end of the previous film, Spider-Man has been cleaning up the streets on a regular basis while tackling the guilt he feels over disregarding the promise he made to Captain George Stacy before he died. This of course puts a strain on his relationship with Gwen and just when Spidey figured he had enough to deal with, Max Dillon (an unassuming electrical engineer at Oscorp) is transformed into the super-powered Electro after an unfortunate accident. Couple that with the return of Peter's childhood friend Harry and the revelation that Oscorp's prodigal son returns with a time limit (an illness is slowly killing him), it ain't easy being Spidey this time around.
If you've seen the trailers, you'll know that Electro isn't the only villain, the Green Goblin finally makes his debut in this new re-boot with Academy Award nominee Paul Giamatti playing the role of Aleksei Sytsevich/Rhino. While Electro is the primary villain, the other two are largely unused for the majority of the film, Goblin barely battles Spidey during the film's climax and Rhino was used mostly as a cameo. Jamie Foxx's portrayal was one of my favorite elements of the entire film, this version of Electro was far more visceral than his comic book counterpart... pushing Spidey to his limits on multiple occasions. The inclusion of the other two felt more or less shoe-horned in, while I'm glad they incorporated the Goblin for reasons I won't discuss (spoilers) I felt they could have done without showing Rhino.
Aside from the way they handled villains, the narrative jumped around quite a bit and felt sloppy during much of the film. There were moments I didn't know if I was watching a big-budget superhero flick or a teen coming of age film complete with hipster-ass music found in a Diet Coke commercial. It's jarring because even though the pacing of the first film was much slower than the typical superhero flick, it still managed to flow well in my opinion.
Despite a sloppy narrative, the writing did have some redeeming features. The chemistry between Peter and Gwen sizzled just as hot as it did during the first film and Peter's relationship with his Aunt May (again played by Academy Award Winner Sally Field) tugged at my heart a bit and made me wish I saw this with my mom on Mother's Day. Spidey is just as quick with the quips as he is in the comic book and I felt the writers captured this facet of Spidey's personality perfectly.
I won't delve too much into the ending (because... spoilers) but I was unsatisfied with the way they handled a very iconic moment in Peter Parker's history as Spider-Man. I'll most likely be following up with a spoiler laden piece in the coming days but until then my semi-disappointment will have to suffice.
Overall though, I wasn't bored with it. Andrew Garfield still plays a pretty spot on Spider-Man and the new editions to the cast such as DeHaan's Harry Osborn and Foxx's Electro made for an entertaining popcorn flick. Issues regarding the ending aside, the sloppy narrative that seemed to jump around far more than I liked kept me from feeling like this was on par with the first film in the series. Give it a watch and hopefully you can be as entertained by it as well, while my opinion of it isn't as harsh as other critics have painted it, I still can't say I enjoyed it more than the first film. If the studio can't figure out a way to improve on this re-boot's formula, I fear the third installment will be a disappointing end to what could have been an amazing trilogy.