Ashland, Ore. – I’m actually very surprised at the mixed reviews for the newest Spiderman installment. I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable film, and I like it as much as last month’s The Winter Soldier. The fact that the latter has a 35 percent higher approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes shocked me.
Many viewers were rightfully concerned going into Spiderman 2. A large part of what killed the previously successful Sam Raimi series was an overabundance of shoddy villains. Raimi’s Spiderman 3 featured three villains, all of which were incapable of creating compelling antagonists. Since the newest Spiderman film also boasts three baddies, fans were justly nervous. However, I think they handled the villains well. Not masterfully, but well. Instead of three central antagonists crammed under the spotlight, one took center stage, another took an important but minor roll (think Two-Face from The Dark Knight), and the other was essentially a cameo. The villains were interesting, and the audience felt sympathy for them – something that Spiderman 3 villains had trouble with. The characters weren’t as compelling as the Lizard or Doc Ock in previous installments, but they weren’t uninteresting.
Multiple villains aside, the character dynamics between Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) steal the show. Their interactions seem more genuine and interesting than the majority of on-screen romances, and the characters are far more likable than the previous series’ counterparts.
However, it is clear that the studio struggled with the storytelling. There are several little moments in the trailers for Spiderman 2 that never actually occur in the film. In fact, it seems like a large plot element was edited out in post-production, among other changes. But aside from that the story is well-crafted, though predictable. The film is put together well enough to where even if the audience can guess exactly what happens, the telling of the story triumphs over any of the twists.
Above all else, this Spiderman film succeeds in its goal to get the audience thinking long after they’ve left the theater. This is something The Winter Soldier tried to do very heavy-handedly, and only partially succeeded at. This Spidey sequel has just the right amount of thought put into it. But with very clear sequel hooks, it’ll be interesting to see if this series will continue to deliver fresh material, or succumb to the “curse of three” like its predecessor.