Rating: 3 out of 5
When a new threat appears in New York, Spider-Man must protect both its citizens and his loved ones before the city falls into tragedy. Our favorite Spider faces two foes in this dual plot story. One of those plots, however, requires the avid fan to set aside all previous back stories, as well as the animated versions, in regards to one of Peter Parker's oldest childhood friends in order to make the story work. One of the real champs of this movie is Jamie Foxx.
Don’t you just hate it when a sequel strays far enough from all the previous story-lines and movie versions that you are forced to try and throw-out years of memories regarding the main personalities and interwoven relationships created over a long running series? A fresh look can be great; however, when you re-write supporting characters’ past relationships and roles to that of the primary character. It can make viewing the sequel somewhat uncomfortable for a viewer.
This is the case with the supporting characters the ultra-wealthy of father and son team of the Osborns. In all the previous versions of Spider-Man, to include Tobey Maguire’s character and the current animated version, it is Mr. Osborne Senior that becomes the Green Goblin before the son ever takes up that mantle. In this “sequel” with Garfield as Spider-Man, Osborn Senior is a sickly dying man with a neurological disorder that is killing him, and no indication that he was ever the Green Goblin. In the earlier Maguire stories and in animated versions, Norman Osborn, the founder of OSCORPS, became the Green Goblin on a vengeance crusade to crush Spider-Man.
Instead of Harry Osborn (son) growing up as best buddies with Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Harry was sent away to a private and privileged boarding school when he, and Peter, were very young. Peter doesn’t meet Harry again until Harry has finished school. Harry finds out that his dad is dying and has kept a secret from Harry that, he too, has inherited this deathly neurological disorder.
In the previous versions of this old story, Norman’s son, Harry and Peter grew up around each other developing a bond. However, and by some twist of reasoning, Harry becomes convinced that Spider-Man’s blood holds the key to his cure. After a failed attempted to convince Spider-Man to give up his blood, Harry decides to take an experimental drug and becomes something unexpected. His adopting of the persona Green Goblin is not by design but by fate. The experimental drug alters him both physically and mentally; and to sustain his life he puts on an experimental super soldier suit that just happens to fit him even though he never knew of its existence before the day of his transformation. He is quicker at recognizing who Spider-Man really is as opposed to most story versions of the past. Thus Harry, or the Green Goblin, begins his efforts to crush the “spider” out of a warped sense of betrayal.
The real upside of this movie is the parallel story line and performance by Jamie Foxx as Max Dillion and Electro. Matt, a somewhat mentally troubled man who is also a talented yet unappreciated electrical engineer/system repair that talks to himself constantly and craves simple recognition as a person. Through the typical work related accident, and trust me – you can see this event coming from a mile away, Matt is fried by a massive amount of electricity and then falls into, again typical, tank of super-size supercharged electric eels that just happen to be located right below the damaged electrical circuits Matt is sent to repair. After the usually, development and recognition of his new superpower, Matt’s craving for recognition also gets a bit super-sized and when he does not get it and instead feels dejected and ignored, Matt names himself “Electro” and goes on a – again typical – rampage. Now back to my comment that this part of the movie is the upside: Jamie Foxx is a joy to watch as he takes a formula story-line and makes it fresh and memorable. The special effects are decent, but it is purely Jamie’s performance that makes this parallel story-line work and stand-alone against the rest of the movie.
Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Spider-Man and Emma Stone’s portrayal of Gwen Stacy were, for the most part, consistent with their early performances. Both actors were fortunate enough to have their characters written consistent with the early and original versions of the story.
In spite of the alterations to the character of Harry Osborne, actor Dane DeHaan does a more than adequate job of the young man that felt discarded by his father, only to learn and add fuel to his animosity that he is dying of the same disease that eventually killed his father.
The other great performance was by Sally Fields as Aunt May. As an actor with a strong background playing comedy and drama roles, Sally is the most “real” character performance in the movie. It’s her supporting performance, especially when she has a face to face emotional conversation late in the movie, the interaction between Sally and Andrew rings true with the emotions portrayed by the character Aunt May.
As for the other performances: they are really not worth critiquing. There were neither stand-out memorable moments nor absorbing acting by other supporting actors. Much of the story, even when it strays from earlier versions, is formula events – as the old saying goes: you can see it coming.
This movie stands on the character and performance by Jamie Foxx, a moment when Peter learns more about his parents and the special effects.
The cinematography is still decent. Visually, this is an enjoyable film. The dual plot line would be great if both were consistent with what most of us know of the earlier stories. Only the Jamie Foxx character’s story line is worth the effort and more should have been made of it.
Recommendation: If you still intend on watching this film just remember that the story line has problems. Focus on Jamie Foxx in the Spiderman and Electro story. Also pay attention to those few scenes Sally Fields is in; her emotions are so real that she seems out of place; too good for the film. Great job Sally and Jamie.
Amazon Price: $45.99 $16.99 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 7, 2015)
Amazon Price: $74.95 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 7, 2015)