***WARNING THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! ONLY READ AFTER YOU’VE WATCHED THE MOVIE!***
Let me start off by saying that it’s been a difficult and testing time being a Spider-Man fan.
On the comics front Peter Parker was killed off in an unheroic shameful way in Amazing Spider-Man, he was also killed off and replaced by a Hispanic Miles Morales in Ultimate Spider-Man and even in Scarlet Spider which is a story about Peter’s clone (that was actually a solid title) he was killed off at the end of December. So basically Marvel made sure he was dead in all the Spider-Man titles which personally was a scrotum slap to fans everywhere who have supported the character for years. Because of this legions of loyal Spidey fans boycott the comics. Myself included.
The Ultimate Spider-Man animated cartoon which was released mid 2012 didn’t fare much better. It was ridiculous in its humour and the flashbacks and “Family Guy-esque” segways became annoying. It didn’t even come close to the ’94 animated series or even close to the ’09 series. After 3 episodes I gave up on it
And on the movie front the last movie made was the first Amazing Spider-Man reboot and you all know how I felt about that. If you don’t you can read it here
Seeing your beloved hero misinterpreted in all forms of media was heartbreaking and discouraging. It was as though the writers forgot who Peter Parker was and what Spider-Man meant to people even when the fans haven’t. It was frustrating to see him written and depicted as a one dimensional character when there is so much more to him. To say that there was a lot riding on this sequel would be an understatement. I would even go as far as to say it could’ve been the last straw. After watching it last night I’m proud to say it did not disappoint. Finally, FINALLY a movie all Spidey fans can be proud of.
I have always said that the casting of The Amazing Spider-Man was perfect and much more stronger than the Raimi trilogy. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the original trilogy despite its flaws and Tobey Maguire did a good job but when I picture Spidey I picture Andrew Garfield. Physically Tobey was too short and he didn’t display the wit and cockiness that Spidey is renown for. He did a good Parker but the problem was he stayed as Parker even as Spidey, and Spidey and Parker are two separate people. Garfield did a good job at showing that. Kirsten Dunst played a good MJ but Emma Stone really knocked the role of Gwen Stacey out of the park and the chemistry between Gwen and Peter was undeniable. Maybe cos they’re actually smashing each other in real life.
So the problem with Part 1 wasn’t the casting – it was the editing, the directing, pacing and massive holes in the storyline. Just when the movie would ramp up to something epic it’ll switch to something boring. Part 2 seemed to have learnt from those mistakes and the result is a solid enjoyable movie that kept you entertained for the entire 2.5hrs.
When I first learnt that there would be 3 villains in this movie; The Rhino, Electro and Green Goblin I was apprehensive because we all saw what happened with Spider-Man 3. However all the villains got the screen time needed to progress the story. Electro was the main villain so more time was spent developing his character and exploring his backstory which was a good idea since Electro is boring at the best of times. Jamie Foxx played the character well and with the rejigged backstory you actually felt sorry for him. Harry Osborn took a bit of getting used to. At first I was concerned cos he came across as a Leo DiCaprio wannabe but by the end of the 3rd Act/4th Act he was menacing and scary. They didn’t build up the friendship between Harry & Peter like they did in Raimi’s Spider-Man but to be honest I preferred it this way to move it along. In the comics it’s actually Harry’s Dad – Norman Osborn that kills Gwen but it made more sense for Harry to deliver the final blow. More on that later. The Rhino was briefly touched on but it was enough to establish him and set him up for the Sinister Six.
The theme of Spider-Man has always been his sense of guilt which in turn has been the foundation in which his deep sense of responsibility is rooted in and this movie really shows that. Other than the guilt he still feels from not stopping his Uncle Ben from getting killed, Peter is haunted by the death of Captain Stacey and he sees his face everywhere he goes. This explains the inner turmoil that Peter is dealing with which is whether to keep his relationship with Gwen or to keep his promise to her Dad and leave her alone. It’s this inner turmoil and Peter’s decision to continue the relationship that makes the blow of Gwen’s inevitable death that much more painful.
Which takes us to Gwen’s death. I’m gonna skip all the action sequence and all that cos it was good and it justified the price of 3D. However the core of the movie for me and what makes it such a great movie is the story of Peter and Gwen. If you strip away the Spider-Man aspects from the movie, it will still stand on its own 2 feet cos at the heart of it all is a romantic tragedy about 2 young kids. The Spider-Man layer just adds an extra level of complication to it. I mean a perfect example of this is when Gwen tells Peter that she’s leaving to London before Peter has to abruptly leave to fight Electro. Hes cocky, he saves the city and people are cheering for him but as soon as he’s back at home he’s listening to his iPod in bed feeling emo like anyone else. Take away the Electro fight and you just have a drama which is already engaging. The appeal of Spider-Man to many people is that behind his mask and behind his cockiness he has to deal with everyday problems that we all deal with. That’s what differentiates him from other heroes.
The relationship between Peter and Gwen is endearing and it makes you hope that they both find the happiness that they deserve, and after defeating Electro for a brief moment you think maybe, just maybe this could happen. Then you see the Leo wannabe come in on his hoverboard and your heart drops. Spidey fans know what’s gonna happen next and all we want is for it to be done right and respectfully. The non fans have no idea but at the end it doesn’t matter because the scene was done so well that it was a king hit to the ovaries no matter what. Remember what I said about Peter’s sense of guilt? Well in the comics when Gwen died it was discovered she died of a broken neck. Peter is left wondering whether GG broke her neck before she was chucked off the bridge or if it was his webline that snapped her neck and this torments him forever. In the movie it seems more obvious that Spideys webline did snap her neck but she woulda been fucked up from the fall so she was screwed either way. The slow mo fall and the look on Gwen’s face and the scenes afterwards at the cemetery made me jizz from my eyes I ain’t gonna lie. It was a sad sad moment indeed. Marc Webb did a great job bringing that iconic scene to life…that motherfucker
And that’s what made this movie so much more personal and it really tugged at the feels. From the opening scene where it shows Peter’s parents cop it to the D&M between Aunt May and Peter, all the Feels were there. The pacing was perfect and the humour was spot on. Scenes where the camera pans to Spider-Man and he’s wearing a fireman hat or him wearing a beanie and scarf when he’s sick is classic Spider-Man and I cracked up like a lil kid reading my first comic all over again. Him having problems with his web shooters and using his science background to solve problems, this is the Spidey we know and fell in love with. There was some nice updated touches as well like Aunt May obviously knowing that Peter is Spidey and not treating her like a doting old bat.
The movie was also littered with more teasers than a titty bar for all the fanboys. There was the Vulture wings, Doc Ocks tentacles, and they introduced Felicia Hardy who later becomes Black Cat who could be a replacement for Kraven the Hunter in the Sinister Six. They even planted Alistair Smythe (played by Ryan from the Office) who creates Spider Slayers and eventually becoming a SS himself. It seems like they’re fleshing out the Spider-Man universe like they did with the Avengers. Also the X-Men snippet during the after credit scene shows that they’re open for a possible collab even though it’s different movie studios. The possibilities are endless and it’s exciting especially when 2 more Spider-Man movies are confirmed
It’s been tough being a Spidey fan lately but with this latest Spider-Man movie capturing the humour, wit and the essence of who Peter Parker really is, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.