Two years ago, when the first Spider-man came out, I said in my review that I feel like I can't enjoy it simply on principle. At that point the Sam Raimi version had come out less than a decade before and here we were, sitting in a theater watching basically the exact same story all over again and just accepting that Sony and Columbia Pictures did that to us and it was fine. Well, I've gotten over my bitterness toward that and a legion of trailers that made this one seem pretty cool helped to win me over. I'd be lying if I didn't feel like a fool because it's far from what is needed to make a relaunch of a franchise so close together worth it.
Director Marc Webber (no pun intended but I wonder if that last name got him the job) is the master behind (500) Days of Summer, which I consider one of the best romantic comedies of all time. He seems great at what he does provided that he's making adorable romance on screen in a hipster fashion. I'm not sure action movies are right for him because what we have with Spider-man 2 is a film with an exhausting two-and-a-half hour runtime that feels like it was done by two different directors. You have some incredible action sequences that feature some of the best CGI FX that I've ever seen and some scenes of young love being pulled away from each other in futile attempts. It's possible to make both of those work in the same film but Webber didn't pull it off.
Stars Andrew Garfield (Amazing Spider-man, Social Network) and Emma Stone (Zombieland, Crazy Stupid Love) are dating in real life and that authentic chemistry shines like the North Star. The two of them are pretty intoxicating to watch in their playful and amusing banter. You buy into their love for each other because it seems to not be acting. The problem is that that is most of the film. The dynamic between the "we-want-to-be-together-but-just-can't" overstays its welcome by almost an hour and you end up with an action film with very little action.
Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti and Dane DeHaan (Lincoln, Chronicle) all play villains. You're probably thinking that sounds like a lot. It is but Giamatti, in what is the worst performance of his career (and yes that includes Big Fat Liar and Big Momma's House), is barely in the film thankfully and only shows up in perhaps five minutes of screen time. Foxx plays Electro and the choices made for his character are clever and well executed but Foxx does a rather poor job portraying any sort of menace. One of the best aspects about the movie deals with him though in that he voiced his own rambling, angry rap that's whispered in Electro's Theme and it's the only time I can remember a piece of the soundtrack adding to a character's profile.
That brings us to DeHaan. For a while, I've enjoyed him in almost everything he's done. He's very good at playing the reluctant and manic baddie and he is at his best in Spider-man 2 as The Green Goblin. His zombie-like blue eyes and slick smile makes you trust and pity him despite knowing how awful he becomes. His arc is also one that Webber did a fine job displaying for us but spends so much time on it that you end up resenting it as well.
I loved Spider-man comics as a kid but I think that was the problem; I loved them when I was a child. Spider-man is definetly the bunny slope when baby-stepping into the world of comic books. Making that into a film is perfectly fine but you have to handle the tone correctly. Raimi made a light, funny, colorful, cartoonish version in 2002. The problem with Webber's approach is that it's dark, realistic, sinister and not fun. You can get away with that when making film versions of Batman, Superman, Hulk, or X-Men but doing that to Spider-man feels like a left shoe on a right foot. When you couple that with a tipped scale in favor of talkie-talkie in a movie that promised web-slinging and combat, you failed to catch the fly, Webber.