The newest movie in the newest re-imagination of the Spiderman franchise hit theaters last Friday, and the reviews are quite stupendously mixed. I had a chance to see it with my family this weekend, and I’m happy to add my couple of cents, and hopefully help folks to decide whether to spend the money to take their families as well. Here goes:
1. Will I like it? If you just generally enjoy big superhero action flicks, then you should have a good time. However, if your opinions tend to be a bit more complex, then ask yourself: Do you care about the comic book backstory for Peter Parker? If you answered yes, then you may have a problem with this movie.
2. Will my kids like it? Probably. Kids have a lot less baggage than we do, and this *is* a fun Spidey movie.
3. How’s Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker? I think he’s pretty spot-on. He brings the right balance of irreverence, nerdiness, and unadulterated joy at what he gets to do. Plus he has the chops to share scenes with Sally Fields as Aunt May, so he keeps the film working even when the plot isn’t running on all cylinders.
4. How are the bad guys? Jamie Foxx has fun playing the prime baddie, turning from downtrodden nerd to Electro due to one of those sad-yet-common industrial accidents that seem to happen so often. Dane DeHaan also makes Harry Osborne sympathetic early on. Paul Giamatti has a small roll as the criminal who becomes Rhino, but this is no Paul Giamatti we’ve ever seen before, so it’s worth watching just for that.
5. And the effects/action? They are good. They GoPro-like Spidey-eye views swinging around the city are very well done, and nothing looks too-CGI.
6. You said something ominous about the plot earlier… Yeah, well, here’s where things break down a bit. Some things are just so contrived that they start really straining plausibility. Jamie Foxx’s character is so badly treated at OsCorp that he could have filed a lawsuit. Plus the safety precautions around a highly dangerous lab were laughable. It would have been more plausible if they’d been setting him up to become Electro. Also, later on there’s a point where people are randomly put into grave danger just to put a timetable to Spidey having to fix something, and then it turns out that Gwen Stacy just HAPPENS to have read the specs for the super-machine they need to re-set, so she HAS to come with him. Of course, when she gets into the control room, there’s a big red button that says “Re-Set.” Dumb, dumb, dumb.
7. When can we take a pee break? Being an action film, it certainly keeps the excitement up, but you could probably sneak out when Peter goes hunting down in the abandoned subway station.
Bottom line it for us. TAS2 is reasonably fun, and kids and any adult who doesn’t get too hung up on Spidey’s classic backstory or, well, plot, should enjoy it. But if silly plot contrivances pull you out of suspending your disbelief, you might want to save this one for an MST3K night with your friends/family.