Berryman Vs. Amazing Spider-Man 2

ASM2Well it’s out now. It’s finally arrived. So what does George think about the Spider-sequel?

Warning: This review will have spoilers. Repeating that – this review will have spoilers.

Some of you know I was not a fan of the first film, and that’s putting it mildly. I was not a fan of how much monkeying around has been done with the origin and never will be. So honestly I went into Amazing Spider-Man 2 today with lowered expectations, which sometimes helps. I expected lots of action and some cool special effects. I got that – but with that came a lot of disappointment.

For those of you thinking the sequel continues a ‘smarter’ hero movie theme, i.e. more realistic, better-thought out approach to super storytelling, think again. Electro’s origin is laughably bad. He literally falls into a tank of electric eels while holding electrical cables in an Oscorp lab. While the electricity – well, electrocutes him – and the electric eels with needle-sharp teeth proceed to shock-bite him, he jerks around a lot and turns into charred carcass that the goons at Oscorp are all too willing to erase with the basement incinerator. But he gets better. The freak accident which have turned him into the master of electricity also removed the gap in his front teeth, so hey. Look at the positives.

Who is Max Dillon? Apparently he’s the genius who designed New York’s power grid – and he’s also a slovenly loner who is desperate for people to notice him. Except for his boss at Oscorp, ‘Mister Smythe’ – played by B.J. Novak who is in two very short scenes in the movie. Spider-Man saves him from dying (he ‘notices’ him) during a plutonium hijacking in one of the film’s early scenes. Max then goes into full-on Spidey man-crush. At home he’s got Spider-Man pictures splattered all over his walls and he talks to himself constantly, acting as if he’s having a conversation with Spidey. ‘Spidey’ even gets him a birthday cake and leaves it in his fridge for his birthday. One cannot help but draw parallels between Jamie Foxx’s Electro and Jim Carrey’s Riddler from Batman Forever. Carrey’s Riddler was a genius shut-in who idolized Bruce Wayne.

The writers give Electro the film’s worst dialogue. If he’s not mumbling in confusion about whether or not he likes Spidey or whether or not people are noticing him he’s delivering one-liners that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze grimace. There is one especially painful exchange between Electro and Dr. Ashley Kafka at Ravencroft. Kafka is working for Oscorp and is torturing Dillon to find out more about him. Oh and I forgot to mention that in Marc Webb’s flick Dr. Kafka is now a dude. In addition to growing a dong, Dr. Kafka is also an over-the-top parody of a crazed Nazi mad scientist torturing Dillon for information – and for fun. At one point Foxx’s Electro says “Don’t you know who I am? I’m Electro!” Well no jackass, he doesn’t know that, and neither does anyone else since that’s the first time anyone’s heard it in the movie.

The villain dialogue in this flick is just God awful. That’s me putting it as mildly as I can and being as gentle as I can be. It’s just terrible. And it’s not just the dialogue! During Spidey’s final fight with Electro the villain actually has parts of a power plant light up and hum the ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ song. Sometimes storytellers cannot resist the low hanging fruit. Even when it’s already on the ground and rotting.

Dean DeHaan’s Harry was not as smarmy as the trailers made him out to be. I used to joke with folks that, at least in the eight trillion trailers that preceded this flick, DeHaan’s Harry seemed to be the product of James Spader mating with himself. DeHaan’s skills are fine; the writing they give, however, is sub par. The writers are trying to cram so much into this movie that Harry’s development feels very rushed. He comes back to New York after graduating from military boarding school and takes over the company when his father Norman (Chris Cooper, who is in one scene) dies. Note that we never seen Norman’s body; the world is just told that he’s dead.

Harry and Peter talking about their similarities (both feel abandoned by their parents) gets off to a rocky start with some clunky dialogue. Their relationship and history is built in just two scenes. We’re not given enough time with Harry to really start caring for him or even be sympathetic towards him. He just shows up, doesn’t get his way, starts dying and goes apeshit. After Spidey defeats him in the end Harry is put into Ravenloft, where the ‘mystery man in shadows’ from the first movie comes to talk to him about creating the Sinister Six. Peter on the other hand never once thinks about his lunatic buddy afterward. Because, you know, besties n’ all. The Raimi films did far, far better by Harry than Marc Webb does here. At least Raimi let us get to know Harry.

DeHaan’s Goblin though… it’s over-the-top creepy. At one point he’s even flicking his tongue out over his teeth. Ugh. Both he and Norman are dying from a rare genetic disease that causes them to twitch and become complete pricks when their skin starts drying out and falling off. Luckily for Harry there is still some super spider-venom at Oscorp, which he takes to become… well more crazy and ugly. What’s funny is that time is spent to point out that Harry is dying and there’s no cure, except (he thinks) Spider-Man’s blood. As soon as he shoots up with spider-venom to become the Goblin he leaps into a powered exosuit that flashes ‘Injuries Detected, Healing Protocols Initiated’ – which apparently stabilizes him. So some random armor suit in Norman’s lab apparently held the cure all along. I actually laughed aloud at how bad that was. The spider that Peter’s dad created for Osborn (which also gives Harry his ‘Goblin’ powers!) is even named in the movie as ‘Araneus Oscorpea’ or ‘Araneus Oscorpeus.’ Couldn’t remember which. Spidey DNA, Goblin DNA… screw it, it’s all the same now! Heh.

A big chunk of the movie is tied up with what happened with Richard and Mary Parker after they left Peter with Ben and May and disappeared – then died. We get to see their demise on a plane as Richard starts uplinking an important video to… something… while he and Mary fight an Osborn assassin who has just killed the pilot. Mary’s shot and dies, the plane is in a sharp descent but thank God Richard gets that uplink finished. So what was he uplinking? A video that explains his part in creating the spider research at Oscorp. Peter later sees the video at his father’s secret underground lair (no, I am not making that up) and finally makes peace with his parents’ abandoning him. All of it was unnecessary. All of it added nothing to the main point of the movie… but then this movie didn’t have a main point so much as several subplots swirling around one another. But the Richard and Mary stuff took time away that could have been used to build up the Harry/Peter relationship better. Or maybe explaining why Dr. Kafka has a dong now. Heh.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are fine as Peter and Gwen. Unfortunately the writers have given us a Peter that is not as smart as the 616 comics Peter. In fact it is Gwen Stacy who manages to find a way for Peter to stop his webshooters from being short-circuited by Electro using eight-grade science. And thank God it’s Gwen, recently graduated from high school, who knows how to reset the city’s power grid because she “saw some plans.” Hey, at least we didn’t have every crane operator in the city help escort Spidey to Oscorp this time.

ASM2PGGwen’s death is telegraphed almost from the start of the movie. Everywhere you turn there is something telling you that things are probably gonna end up bad for Gwen. From her graduation speech to Peter seeing her dad’s ghost everywhere we are beaten over the head with “Gwen’s gonna die.” Comic fans might not be bugged by it but there *are* people seeing this movie who don’t know about Gwen’s death in the comics. But rest assured there are clues around every turn telling you she’s gonna die.

Her death is brutal. It is not just a ‘snap’ as we saw in the comics. No it’s a THWIPP and THUD as Spidey manages to web her but not in enough time to stop her from slamming into the ground. I actually winced at that and thought “Damn!”

Peter’s reaction is very much what you would want to see and that success is all on the shoulders of Garfield. The emotion, the reaction… it’s right out of the comics. You feel Peter’s pain when Gwen’s gone. It’s very well done. Another very good emotional scene comes earlier in the film when you realize that Aunt May is actually a little hurt that Peter is spending so much time obsessing over his lost parents since she is the one who raised him. Garfield and Sally Field really do a good job with that scene.

On a side note – someone either on our boards, our front page or elsewhere, I cannot remember, noted that the hands on the clock tower get stuck on 1:21 when Gwen dies. I’d read that before and confirmed it. That was kinda neat. (EDIT: It was Tyson on our very own forums! Holla!)

Paul Giamatti’s Aleksei Sytsevich is a caricature of a dumb brute criminal. You just get a taste of what his Rhino will be like in future films: big, Russian, stupid.  I remember when we first saw ‘the Rhino’ on the movie poster I hated it. I hated the idea that the Rhino is an armor suit. I just do. Especially in a movie where we’ve firmly established that people get powers from monkeying around with animal DNA. I remember complaining about that and having people say “Well it’s just not believable to have him look like a Rhino!” Apparently it’s believable that Electro got his powers by being bitten by electric eels while being electrocuted but splicing Rhino/Human DNA… no no, we just can’t have that. Not believable, you know. Laughing my ass off!

Rhino’s barely in the movie but he appears to be the first of Harry Osborn’s Sinister Six, given Oscorp Tech after being busted out of prison. In fact we’re given many hints about what’s to come with the Sinister Six, including Doctor Octopus and the Vulture. I don’t like Oscorp being the genesis of all of Spider-Man’s villains. It’s lazy. What’ll be the future for Norman? No idea. What about Felicia Hardy, who is in the movie for a couple of scenes as Harry’s assistant? No idea.

They do finally get around to introducing Jonah. But not really. Peter already knows him and is already selling Spider-Man pictures to him. He sends Jameson a picture and suggests that he could be wrong about Spidey, to which Jameson emails back with a resounding ‘WRONG!’ It’s a cheat; this allows them to have Jonah without having Jonah. If the filmmakers weren’t busy shoehorning in too many villains and wasting time with Peter’s dead parents we might have gotten to meet Jonah. More’s the pity.

To sum up for the “I can’t read this because it’s longer than a paragraph” folks:

-Too many villains works against the movie and doesn’t allow major characters to be better developed.
-The writing is bad at times. Real, real bad. Especially when the villains speak.
-Too much time is wasted on Peter’s parents.
-There are a few good emotional beats.
-Story holes and “Wait, wtf?” moments abound.
-Some good action and special effects to help ease the pain of the awful story.


Disappointing, especially to someone who went in with low expectations hoping to be surprised. But there’s a lot of good action and lots of ‘splosions. For some that will be enough but not me.

–George Berryman!

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(24) Comments

  1. David

    I loved Gwen Stacy, and even though they foreshadowed her death the ENTIRE movie - I kept my fingers crossed that they'd try something different. I mean, she is without a doubt the best superhero girlfriend featured in a comic book movie ( odd considering how boring she was in the source material.) and I hated that they killed her off. That being said, I enjoyed the movie in spite of it being forced with various sub plots and multiple villains. It has never benefited a movie to have multiple villains, and I have no idea why they keep trying that with Spider-Man.

  2. Shaun Martineau

    Great review, I already mentioned in Stillanerd's review that I like that the site reviewers are all falling in the same grade category, but for different reasons. I'll say more once I've posted my review, but I enjoyed your review a lot.

  3. GeorgeEl

    I understand the argument that the Harry/Peter Relationship was underdeveloped, but I didn't feel the lack watching the movie. Instead, I felt like it was a subplot that got about the amount of screen time sufficient to make Harry a good secondary villain. I get that some of Electro's lines were silly, but I honestly felt like his scenes were really well done for the character they were going for. Honestly, George, was he any cornier than Daffoe's Goblin singing "the itsy bits spider" in SM1? Overall, while there were admittedly a lot of subplots, I felt like they were all good supports to Electro's main plot.

  4. Geoff

    @20 - I really liked Dehaan as Harry, he was brilliant, a better Goblin than Dafoe and a better Harry than Franco in my opinion. He and Emma Stone gave the best performances in the film (Garfield was more uneven this time). The only thing I didn't like about the Harry/Goblin was that his relationship to Peter wasn't developed enough, I felt like the film was trying to force the Goblin into being Spidey's arch enemy rather than letting him develop into it. As great as the scene is, all of the emotion during Gwen's death scene comes from seeing her die and Peter's reaction. I wasn't thinking "Peter's childhood friend just killed Gwen Stacy!" because it felt like there was no real connection between Peter and Harry, so the emotional weight wasn't there. Electro could have killed her and I would have felt the same. That's why they should have left Gwen's death and Harry becoming the Goblin until ASM3 in my opinion.Norman will probably be back either at the end of ASM3 or he'll be revealed to be the mastermind behind the Sinister Six during their movie. I have a feeling that he's going to look like the Ultimate Goblin though, which I'm on the fence about wanting to see on film.

  5. Hobo-Goblin

    In defense of Harry, I thought he was a very unique and promising take on the character.This is a Harry who has been separated from his father for six years. A Harry who instead of having a desperate need for approval from Norman, is instead instilled with a deep resentment towards his father. And his father still manages to cast a shadow over him in terms of the genetic disease he passed on.Instead of protecting his father's legacy, this Harry wants to be rid of it, and it drives him to the same desperate lengths as any other portrayal of Harry Osborn. But since his very LIFE is on the line, I think I identify more with his desperation and deteriorating mental state than I did when he was just needy for approval or closure, or was just a drug addict.Dehaan's Harry struck me as much more dangerous and unhinged in his desperation, and clearly that's what they were going for in his portrayal.As far as the suit "healing" him goes, I think that was only a band-aid. Considering Norman managed to live with the disease for so long, it is clearly capable of being slowed or temporarily put into remission. Also, Harry didn't even KNOW about the tech, being as it was in Special Projects, whereas Norman was probably already using the technology to prolong his life. So Harry can't really be blamed for thinking Spider-Man's blood was the only cure. And Menken and the others weren't gonna tell him; they wanted Harry out of the way too.So what this boils down to for me is a Harry Osborn who is truly worthy of being Spider-Man's greatest foe. I wouldn't count Norman out yet (no body, haha), but if they choose to NEVER bring Norman back, I think this Harry is a worthy successor. He's the one who brought about Gwen's death. He now knows that Peter actively withheld help from him (despite the circumstances). And he's had enough distance from Peter now to not let that pesky childhood friendship bother him.

  6. Geoff

    @18 - Yes I know that Webb is trying to make a universe and I think it's cool that he's doing it. But he's cluttering up the main plot of the film in the process. Do we really need the Venom symbiote, Felicia Hardy and Alistair Smythe all making cameos that eat up screen time that could have been spent building up the relationship between Peter and Harry, which is severely underdeveloped.The Sinister Six being teased is great because we all know that they are going to appear in ASM3 and their own movie. They were also only referred to in dialogue. I would have preferred to have seen Peter reading a newspaper that said "Mysterious Cat Burglar Strikes Again!" than have a full blow cameo from Felica where she spouted a few lines of dialogue and did nothing particularly interesting.Of course this is all just my opinion. If you liked the universe building then fair play. :)

  7. tickbite

    I wouldn't call the name-dropping in this movie "fan service". They are building up a greater story line. Like Sam Raimi did with the introduction of Curt Connors, but with a better idea of where this is going. I think.I could not care less for the Richard Parker subplot, but it's almost necessary to set up Oscorp as the big emotional antagonist for ASM3. Just see this movie as an issue in a four-movie long arc. It'll be difficult to judge how rushed the plot actually was until the end.

  8. Daniel

    Great casting, visually superb action and a terrific portrayal of Spider-man (and to a lesser extent Peter Parker) by Garfield let down again by a terrible script and a weak, disjointed, plot hole filled plot. It's a shame. Film really suffers from the "telling not showing" syndrome (that could be associated with Dan Slott's writing) that threatens to ruin the naturalness of Stone+Garfield chemistry.Gwen's death is powerful and a great tribute but obviously should have been saved til the end of the third film to build up the relationship with Harry and rivalry with the Green Goblin making his involvement meaningful while also allowing Mary Jane to be integrated. The final scene of 122 would have been a great ending for the trilogy.

  9. Geoff

    @15 - Amen to that. I got chills. Yeah disjointed and horribly cluttered, I left the theatre feeling like I'd seen the Amazing Spider-man 2&3. Really a shame because I feel like this series could be better than Rami's if Webb would let plots develop at a steady pace.

  10. George Berryman - Post author

    @14 - "That said Gwen’s death scene was by far the best sequence in the movie."It's probably the most emotional, truly and genuinely emotional, scene in any Spider-movie. Garfield sells it insanely well. The bad thing is that you have to go through a very disjointed and disappointing movie to actually get there.

  11. Geoff

    @13 - Yeah I know. But it's felt like Stone has been playing a blonde Ultimate Mary Jane more than 616 Gwen Stacy, so I wouldn't have felt cheated if the Goblin hadn't killed her. That said Gwen's death scene was by far the best sequence in the movie.

  12. George Berryman - Post author

    @10, @11 Re; Gwen's DeathOn the one hand: She's Gwen Stacy. She has to die. Her death is what made her famous.On the other hand: The real chemistry between Garfield and Stone was the greatest strength of the Webb reboot - and now going forward that's gone. That absence is going to make things like bad writing and horrible dialogue stick out even worse than it did in this latest installment.

  13. Jack Brooks

    The previous movie was so meh that I'm just gonna wait till this one hits Redbox.

  14. Geoff

    @10 - Yeah almost exactly the same as in the comics. I was kinda hoping he didn't kill her though, Emma Stone gives one of the only consistently good performances throughout and I feel like the 3rd one is going to suffer without her.

  15. Geoff

    Too much attempted fan service is what hinders this movie, even though I did enjoy it. All this movie needed was to focus on Gwen and Peter, with the Spidey action being relegated to just fighting Electro, who should have been the sole villain. Gwen's death and the Goblin being rushed into the climax felt awkward to me. Should have saved it for the third film. Though I still think that it's better than Spider-Man 1&3 and can't quite understand why it's rotten.

  16. Pats4Patrick

    I agree that the movie suffered from too many subplots that all begin and end too fast to really resonate with me by the end of the movie. Peter and Gwen are still written and acted really well; Spider-Man acts, moves, and thinks like spidey from the books, and other characters (both those returning from the last film and new to this one) all work for me. I also loved all the shots with the Manhattan skyline as the backdrop-now featuring the new world trade center- and the scene on the Bk bridge. The problem is that the audience gets rushed from one character and subplot to another without any of them getting the time or development they deserve. I loved the feel of the first movie and its here for the most part, but everything is just too rushed to be satisfying or enjoyable.

  17. Gabriel

    Nah man I think you got it all wrong. Sure it's got flaws, but WHAT movie doesn't?! I liked the first film but not near as much as the original 3. Nobody can replace Tobey. BUT THIS MOVIE AMAZING!! I didn't think it would be this good! Electro was a really could character in my opinion. Amazing effects. Disappointed with Harry. Knew he was going to end up bad ever since the original movie in 2002. Awesome movie. Can't wait for 3 (2016) and 4 (2018)!! God Bless!!!!

  18. cubman987

    For the most part, I really liked this movie. As mentioned it really needed a few dialogue rewrites, mostly for Electro, and there are a couple of moments like the whole plane thing at the end and some of the parents stuff that really should have ended up on the cutting room floor, but there was nothing that drastically took away from my enjoyment of the film. I thought Garfield and Stone were great, and I think this is the best interpretation of Spider-man in any of the movies. I also thought Gwen's death scene was really, really well done.

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