Here it is, the final chapter of our recap of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, just in time for the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming this Friday. Going into this final chapter, I want to repeat that I don’t reject the entire Andrew Garfield reboot out of hand. I think they did some interesting things with the character and the franchise this time around, but as far as the sequel goes, yeah, it’s really bad, and it’s the kind of bad that just gets worse the more times you watch it.
When we left off, Peter Parker had just discovered his father’s secret genetics lab hidden in FDR’s secret subway station and found out just how deep the corruption in Oscorp went.
Meanwhile, Harry Osborn, on a quest to get his father’s company back, somehow talks his way into Ravencroft, sneaks into the unit where Max is being held prisoner and pleads with him to help Harry regain control of his company and kill Spider-Man in exchange for his freedom. Guards arrive and drag Harry out, but not before Harry zaps Max with just enough electricity to enable him to disintegrate. Oops.
But then all the guards get zapped to death and Electro reforms like Dr. Manhattan.
Electro agrees to help Harry catch Spider-Man.
As Peter is leaving the subway, he gets a voicemail from Gwen. She got into Oxford, and she’s on the way to the airport right at that moment. Heartbreak!
Meanwhile, Harry and Electro show up back at Oscorp, and Electro is now wearing a special custom-made jumpsuit with lightning bolts on it.
No idea where he got it, especially since it seems like they came straight here from Ravencroft. But I guess cool trumps making a lick of fucking sense.
Harry heads down to Special Projects with the Head Douche, where he gets himself injected with spider venom (there’s also a brief glimpse of a set of Doctor Octopus-style metal tentacles). The spider venom causes a painful transformation, but Harry manages to get himself into a special metal battlesuit that includes a healing function, so he’s fine now, I guess.
Gwen is stuck in traffic when the cabbie spots Spider-Man and Gwen sees that he has spelled out “I LOVE YOU” in webbing on a neighboring bridge.
Um, Peter, you might not have gotten the memo, but Oscorp destroyed all the spiders. You might want to ration that webbing, is all I’m saying.
So Peter offers to go to England with Gwen because he loves her so much, and they share a romantic kiss at sunset, when the entire city goes black. Max is absorbing all the power from the grid. Somebody’s got to do something about that.
Gwen helps Peter magnetize his webshooters to protect them from electricity or something, then he webs her to a car and goes off to fight Electro. There’s a scene where Electro is teleporting from place to place as a lightning bolt that feels a lot like that “ride the lightning” scene in Ang Lee’s Hulk, while at the same time, the music sounds a lot like Escape from New York.
Spidey follows Electro to a power station where he tries that water trick again, but it doesn’t work this time. They fight, and though he fights valiantly, eventually Spider-Man is helpless against Electro’s power. Until Gwen hits Electro with a cop car she’s stolen.
So they make a plan for Gwen to bring the electrical grid back up so that the excess power will blow Electro up, which, I thought he had been absorbing the power all this time, but maybe not? Anyway, there’s lots of leaping and dodging and speed-ramping, and then Electro explodes and everybody’s happy.
Until Harry shows up as the Green Goblin and spoils everything.
They don’t even try to put Harry in the classic Goblin mask. Instead, Harry’s medical condition and the spider-venom “cure” have combined to make his skin green and his teeth pointed. It’s not a bad look, but it seems weirdly late in the game to introduce a new villain. Until he showed up at this moment, it really felt like they were setting Harry up for the sequel. But suddenly, here he is, all villained up for the second climax.
Seeing Spider-Man with Gwen, Harry realizes that Spidey is Peter. So to take revenge for Peter refusing to help him, Harry decides to kill Gwen. There’s a big fight in a clock tower that ends up with the Goblin knocked out, Gwen falling and Spider-Man catching her with his webs, just a moment too late.
Gwen hits the ground hard, stopping the clock at 1:21 (the comic book where Gwen died was Amazing Spider-Man issue #121). She doesn’t even get to wake up and have a dramatic death speech like Harry did in Spider-Man 3. Andrew Garfield really nails Peter’s panic and grief in this scene, but it’s all so suddenly arbitrary after the second climax, it feels almost like an afterthought.
Peter is so devastated by Gwen’s loss that he stays by her graveside for literally a year (to judge by the changing seasons in the graveyard montage, although the film later says it’s only five months). And at Ravencroft, where he is now an inmate, Harry gets a mysterious visitor. There’s a plan afoot to use the stuff in Oscorp’s Special Projects to do, I don’t know, something bad now that Spider-Man has disappeared. We see the Doc Ock tentacles again, along with Vulture wings and a Rhino exo-skeleton. They decide that their first member of the team will be the Russian plutonium hijacker from way back at the beginning.
Aunt May tries to give Peter a pep talk about putting things aside when their time is past. Peter cleans up the stuff left over from his dad, and finds a thumb drive labeled “Gwen’s Speech.” He watches the graduation speech he missed, where Gwen talks about maintaining hope through hard times.
So when the Rhino rampages through Manhattan, opposed by a little kid in a Spider-Man costume (someone Spidey earlier saved from bullies), the real Spider-Man shows up finally to fight once again.
So overall, it’s a movie with a couple of good qualities, but several major problems. The pacing is sometimes slack in the scenes with Garfield and Stone, while the editing of the action sequences can be frantic and confusing. There is the entire issue of Peter’s father, which not only unnecessarily retcons parts of the first film, but contains major story logic issues.
But I think the film’s biggest problems are with the villains. Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn has this dank, sweaty vibe that makes him off-putting, yes, but it’s hard to buy him as the major villain behind the villain. He’s icky, but not scary, until the moment when he suddenly has complete mastery of his strength and armored technology within minutes of being introduced to it.
Jamie Foxx is better as Electro, except for the fact that, as others have noted, his starstruck-loser-whose-technology-is-stolen-by-evil-corporation-then-turns-evil-after-an-accident-with-that-same-tech schtick is essentially the same as Jim Carrey’s Riddler in Batman Forever, which is not a movie anyone would want to draw comparisons with. He has nothing in common with the original comics’ Electro–who was basically just a common thug who could shoot electricity–but that kind of villain would be too slight to carry a feature anyway. However, it’s hard to square the sweaty loser he starts out as with the growling, ultra-powerful Dr. Manhattan wanna-be he becomes.
Often in the case of films that are almost universally despised, I kind of cut against the grain in finding much to like, but not in this case. It’s certainly not a Superman IV: The Quest For Peace type of disaster, but it is a movie that fails on most every level, so no, really not recommended.