Review: I've been sitting on this review for a while. Not a long time, on opening weekend I was at a Con and then I got Con Crude and was sick as balls the following week so I finally saw this last Wednesday but I've been waiting to write a review. The problem is I don't really know what to say about this movie. It's just kind of meh. Also, just so you know, there will be some major spoilers in this review because some of my observations include major plot points so if you don't want SPOYLARZ don't read on. The non-spoiler version is, wait for DVD, you don't really need to go out of your way to see this one.
First off the acting is great. I really like Peter and Gwen. I like their relationship, I like their interplay and I like the scenes their in. I like Peter and Harry, the plot is contrived in getting them together but their relationship is solid. They seem like two people who are friends and I liked the scenes they were in. Jaime Foxx is solid as Electro, Rhino is great and Sally Field puts in a fantastic performance as Aunt May. Finally the special effects are fantastic, Spider-Man looks totally real as he zips through the city and those scenes were more immersive than the video game they released. I liked what they did with Norman, he looks like an old goblin on his deathbed but I would have liked to see him actually be Goblin rather than die in the first act. Another highlight was Peter experimenting with his webs again. I hope there is a scene like that in every movie, Peter being a scientist never gets old. In the Raimi movies we never got Peter the Scientist it was mostly Peter the Photographer. There was a science element but it I never felt like Peter was all that bright in the Raimi movies. Here I feel like he is actually pretty intelligent.
Alright, now the bad. The plot is just mostly forgettable. I don't really remember the details of the plot. I remember the big plot points but it's just not a movie that sticks with me in any big way. That being said the Gwen Stacy moment blew me away just in how well they were able to keep that secret and with how brutal it is both physically and emotionally. Other than that, however, it's just lackluster. The transition of Harry from normal to Goblin is a little uninteresting (he gets angry). His team up with Electro is decent but Harry felt rushed in his fall from normal person to madman. I really could have waited until the next movie to see him become Goblin. In that vein I also wasn't a huge fan of the Goblin's look. It wasn't terrible, I preferred it over the Sam Raimi Willem Dafoe Goblin but not as much as Sam Raimi's James Franco New Goblin. Harry's constant forced smile was a little grating and stupid and it looked like it made the actor drool profusely.
My biggest complaint is with Rhino. I love Paul Giamatti and I think he did good with what little he had but they also gave away the final scene, literally the last 30 seconds before the credits, in the trailer. The whole Rhino situation would have been better right at the beginning. Spidey chases down unarmored Rhino during the car chase in the opening scene but instead of catching him Rhino plugs in that isotope that he was stealing into the suit of armor and attacks Spider-Man with it. You would have to change nothing, the crowd behavior, the kid in the Spider-Man costume, Spider-Man's attitude and even the gag where he webs up human Rhino at the end (of course they would have had to film Spider-Man ripping him out of his mech) would all still work. More importantly it would all still work without having to shortcut Peter morning Gwen Stacy. We could have saved all that emotion for a whole additional film rather than skipping ahead months and hot-shotting the comeback.
The bottom line is this: the acting is great and the story, while containing flaws, is serviceable. I don't think you will leave the theater disappointed. Is it as good as the first one? No, not really. The first one was bringing in this whole other, darker, tone, that I thought was great for the franchise. This one changes tone drastically and we go from the dark colors and muted costume to dripping florescent colors and classic bright red and blue costume. So in some ways they undo much of the first film but it's still a decent carnival ride while it happens. My local theater has dirt cheap prices on Tuesday so if I find myself with a day off on a Tuesday while this is still playing I might just go see it again but I can't really say it's one of the best comic movies. The most I could say is that it's one of the better ones. It's worth watching, I just don't know if it's worth watching in theaters.