Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Importance of a Good Movie Villain, or, What Marvel Has Done Right and Sony Keeps Forgetting

I've had over a week now to process The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and my initial thoughts have stuck with me. Admittedly, they're not very deep thoughts - it is exam time, so you'll have to excuse me.  

Firstly, the CGI was a hell of a lot better in this one.  There were no clunky lizards this time, thank goodness.  The first one left me wondering, if guys like Neill Blomkamp can make convincing-looking Prawns on his home computer with a budget of bugger-all, why can't Sony with all its millions do at least as well?

Secondly, the main cast is top-notch.  Andrew Garfield really does do beautifully that mix of gangling teenager and graceful superhero, and his interactions with Emma Stone and Sally Field continue to sparkle.

This is, without question, a better movie than the last. There are two main problems, though, and they are big enough to damage the fabric of the whole thing.

The story itself is a mess.  I mean, it's like someone took a fruit crumble and put it in the washing machine.  No - that's a bad analogy, but I'm pleading temporary insanity due to assessment-time brain failure.  Now I'm craving fruit crumble....  You catch my drift.  It's all over the place.  No real through-line.  Deep revelations and bits of dramatic and action-packed things happening here, there and everywhere but by the end you've still no idea what Electro was actually trying to do.  Something about taking back a power grid. Does he want to destroy it?  Live in it?  Keep all the power for himself?  Hold a rock concert?

That leads me to the other problem, which you've already guessed if you've read the title of this post.  Star Wars has Darth Vader and the Emperor.  Star Trek has Khan and the Klingons and the Romulans and Q and the Borg.  The Avengers have Loki.  Batman has The Joker.  Spidey  In theory, the Green Goblin should be a great villain.  He's Spidey's former best friend, after all.  The character of Harry here is good, but the Green Goblin still just doesn't cut it, and Electro is very forgettable.  I can't put my finger on why. It's a problem I'd like to explore in detail sometime:  what makes a good movie villain?

If you've got any theories, put them in the comments.


  1. A white cat and a willingness to kill the hero's hot assistant/girlfriend. Or a hot girlfriend and a willingness to kill the hero's cat.