Spider-Man has always been the super hero I identified with most. Sure, I wanted adamantium claws and the corresponding facial hair, but how useful would that really be? And if I'm honest with myself, I'm no Logan. Despite the fact that spiders creep the heck out of me, Spider-Man is a champion of the bookish-folk. He's a goof—always joking, to himself, for the most part, and wiry. He teaches us to laugh at ourselves, laugh at the small stuff, and laugh at the big stuff. Spider-Man is the little guy, which is why I think it makes an odd sense that he's separated (at Sony) from the rest of the Marvel group (Disney).
So, since this new Spider-Man movie has come out, reviews have been popping up all over the place, like here for Forbes (by Mark Hughes, who I think nails it), here for Wired, here for NYT and here's the ever-surly Christopher Orr's take, for The Atlantic. And I suggest you give all of them a look, they'll teach you a lot about how movie reviews are supposed to sound. The best way I can describe it is like trying to describe something while standing very, very far away. Like, you had the thing in your hands, but then hid it and ran a mile before stopping to talk about it... maybe this piece will sound the same. I wonder why critics seem, by and large, so crotchety. If I keep writing about movies, will I end up the same way? If I am crotchety while using clever, review-y jargon, does that make it better? Granted, I got pretty crabby about Terrence Malick, twice, but in a fun, funny way, right? So that makes me better, yes...
But yeah, there were a few things that this movie got me thinking about. 1) I will always be a little grumpy about the fact that every super hero movie is not rated 'R', and, by recognizing that, be okay with it, 2) The claustrophobia of villainy in superhero movies (does it ever work? How (not)?), and 3) a spoiler-laden end beat on how some bold choices made by this movie in the third act might be changing the stakes for this film genre. You know what? Scratch that. I won't go beyond saying "I think some bold choices made by the filmmakers change the stakes for this film genre."
Moving on. Be warned, I get a bit more specific concerning the plot here. The wretched Spider-Man 3 had three villains, and so does this. It seems a common consensus that the last thirty minutes of The Dark Knight were a bit of a stretch, like Nolan should have just let Two-Face kill a couple cops then disappear until the next movie, where could have by then organized his own crime syndicate. The Avengers was equally crowded, though more by heroes than Villains. Yes, Whedon new what he was doing, but since he let the audience watch the heroes battle each other, which is what everyone wanted, Loki felt more like a nuisance than actual threat. But back to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and how this claustrophobia of villainy is an inherent part of comic-book adaptations, especially Spider-Man.
Let's face it. All of these movies, however original the screenplay, are adaptations of graphic novels, and just as adaptations of traditional novels must play by their source material's rules, so must this genre. reviewers have derided the "Tangled Mess of Plotlines," how "utterly wasted Giamatti" was as Rhino bookending the film, and how Osborn's Green Goblin was shoehorned into the final act. Sure, Harry Osborn was an empty device used to move plot; he was absolutely no match for Spider-Man, and also detracted from the weight of Electro's place as super villain. But this is the world of Spider-Man, and comics. There's always something going on. Someone, somewhere is doing something they shouldn't and the hero has to stop them. Think of the Arkham games, especially Arkham City. Batman has to, in the span of one night, take down virtually every single villain he's ever known. This is the nature of pretty much every superhero universe. Marc Webb did with Rhino what Christopher Nolan should have with Two-Face, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, was fun, shiny, sufficiently acrobatic and sentimental, all while delivering a movie appropriate for children that appeals to adults.
Final Note: Shout out to "Paranoia," the Electro theme. It kicks so much ass, and even manages to complicate and develop the character.