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Review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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This review originally appeared on Quora.
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Answer by Ken Miyamoto, Produced screenwriter, former Sony Pictures script reader/story analyst, former Sony Studios liaison

Two steps forward, one step back. 

No, I don't have a Paula Abdul song in my head. That was the first thought I had when the closing credits started to roll for The Amazing Spider-Man 2

A little context here. I was never a fan of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy. I hated the casting. I hated the special effects. I hated the direction. It had it's brief moment. Perhaps the first 35 minutes of the first film. I never understood why people were calling Spider-Man 2 the best superhero movie to date at that time. And then there was the dancing in the third film We won't go there. 

Keep in mind that I wanted to love each and every one and went into that theater with hope and forgiveness. Hell, I worked on Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 on the studio side during my Sony days. I knew that crew. Sam Raimi's office was across the main street from mine. 

So when Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man came to light, I had a big smile on my face. Finally, they got it right. Finally, I had the Spider-Man movie that I had been waiting for. Perfect casting with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and all the rest. In my eyes, it was a perfect reboot. It had the perfect tone. It had the perfect amount of Spidey humor and edge. Two steps forward for the Spider-Man franchise. 

Sadly, on this late Sunday viewing, I watched as they took one big step back. I almost said two steps, but the only saving grace was the continuing casting of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.

Friends, I've figured something out. I'm sure I'm not the first, but it's all clear now. I've discovered how Marvel and Disney have truly f***ed the superhero genre over for other studios, namely Sony (Spider-Man), Warner Brothers (Batman, Superman, and Justice League characters), and to a lesser degree until we finally find out on May 23rd, Fox (X-Men). 

These studios are playing catch up to Marvel's The Avengers and their characters. Marvel took charge six years ago when they launched Iron Man at Paramount, instigating their brilliant Phase One map out for what would lead to The Avengers. Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man franchises that built to The Avengers.

It was and continues to be a masterful plan. A slow build. One with patience. 

Sadly, this has caused a ripple effect with every other studio superhero property. Everyone is trying to catch up. Everything is looking to create that multi-franchise box office beast. 

The problem is, they are not just rushing. They are sprinting.

Thus is the key problem with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. We're given a central villain with the likes of Electro. We're then force fed the Rhino in bookend cameos. And we're introduced to a new character who happens to be Peter Parker's best friend all of the sudden. Harry Osbourne. Before we know it, Harry has gone crazy and in the span of a few seconds, he stumbles upon the Green Goblin suit and glider, as if he went shopping at a villain mall (Oscorp) and say, "I'll take that one." 

And speaking of that villain mall (Oscorp), we are now force fed the Sinister Six villains to such an extreme degree that all excitement about these characters is lost because apparently the villain suits were created by Oscorp and now the "mysterious" Mr. Fierce, by order of Harry, is simply just going to find men to fill those suits. 

Lame.  I'd love to find a more articulate word, but that is the only thing that comes to mind.  Lame. 

This is all pure proof that Sony is merely playing catch up Marvel/Disney. Plain and simple. Especially with the announcement of a Venom movie, as well as Sinister Six movies, on top of Spider-Man movies. It's horrible. Just horrible. I love you Amy Pascal (co-head of Sony Pictures). Yes, I stopped that security guard that didn't know who you were from harassing you and kicking you off of a set, and I'd do it again in a heart beat, but this plan of Sony's for the Spider-Man franchise is just horrible. 

Back to the film at hand...

One big step back for the Spider-Man franchise. The humor in this film is cheesy, over-the-top, awkward for the audience, and just doesn't play. The great thing about the first The Amazing Spider-Man is that they nailed the humor perfectly. It was subtle. Just the right timing for Spidey quips here and there. With this sequel, they decided to go borderline "Joel Shumacher Batman Movie." Jamie Foxx's Electro, namely the origin beginning with him as Max, reminded me too much of Jim Carrey's camp origin story for the Riddler. Although Carrey's worked in a weird way. Foxx's take, both performance-wise and via the script, was horrible. Contrived. 

The Rhino? Even worse, despite the fact that Paul Giamatti's character was only onscreen for a total of a few minutes.

Harry Osbourne/Green Goblin? Epic fail. I'm sorry media. Dane Dehaan did not prove that he was the "It Boy in the making" with this film. His performance was overly forced from the get go, as if he were conjuring this hybrid look and sound of Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. His scenes with Andrew Garfield were so utterly forced on his part. Partly due to the script and partly due to his performance. And this character comes out of nowhere. We're force fed his relationship with Peter. We're force fed his anger at Spider-Man. We're force fed his "turn" into the Green Goblin.    

The story reveals were meager attempts at creating deep mythos and a multi-franchise build.

The more I think about it, the more I dislike this film to be honest. The only saving graces were again, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and perhaps Sally Field to a lesser degree. The chemistry between these two characters is perfect and the final saving grace of the film was the outcome of that relationship in the end. Amazing and pure moments. 

Sadly these two characters and these two amazing performances are lost in Sony's feeble attempts at mimicking what Marvel has created with The Avengers multi-franchise.   

Marvel, I love you for what you've done, but fear the ripple effect you've caused in Hollywood. It has affected Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Justice League, etc. I don't fault you for that Marvel. I fault the studios overseeing those franchises. The people rushing these films into that format. 

It leaves only Fox with the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past. Fortunately for them, they had this comic inspired time travel twist to reunite beloved characters and combine them with recently introduced ones from X-Men: First Class.

Let's be clear. I don't want to see a Sinister Six movie. Not with the ingredients, or lack there of, that Sony has offered with this sequel. I don't care about a Venom movie. And with the events of this sequel, the casting that so shined has been drastically affected. 

I'll pay to see Andrew Garfield in the title role again. That's pretty much it.

I am battling with myself as far as what star rating to give The Amazing Spider-Man 2 here on Quora. I started at three stars, changed it to two, changed it back to three, and then back to two, which is what I am sticking with. Two stars. Sigh.

This breaks my heart, but it is what it is. And to be honest, my expectations for Batman vs. Superman and the Justice League film have gone down drastically. We'll call it the Marvel Ripple Effect Factor. If this is what studios other than Marvel/Disney are going to give us, then man, that just sucks. 

Imitation is supposed to be the biggest form of flattery, sure, but in this case, it's just embarrassing for Hollywood. I'd rather see studio executives have the balls to say, "F*** that. That's not us. That's not Batman or Superman. We did The Dark Knight for f***sakes. We'll go our own way." But the game is the game. Onto the next one. Come on, X-Men: Days of Future Past... don't let me down...

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