*. The main story here has to do with the state of the franchise. Sony had the rights to the character of Spider-Man and were determined to follow up Sam Raimi’s trilogy with not just another trilogy but a whole spin-off universe to rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU. That’s why this movie is effectively just a placeholder, introducing a bunch of new characters willy-nilly and ending on a “to be continued” note. But box office, though strong, was still disappointing (there was a drop off from the previous film) and Marvel struck a deal with Sony in 2015 so that the franchise got cancelled, or perhaps more properly absorbed into the MCU. Leaving these two movies as orphans, and I don’t think particularly much loved orphans at that. Though on balance I don’t think they’re much better or worse than Marvel’s output.
*. I won’t go into any more of this because most people know more (and care more) about these matters than I do. It is a necessary part of the background though. This movie really is a mess if you want to see it as a stand-alone effort. The “you-have-to-be-joking” appearance of the laughable mechanized Rhino at the end says it all.
*. I’ll admit that when I heard Jamie Foxx was going to be appearing as the villain Electro I really got my hopes up. That could have been great. Alas, Foxx is hidden behind a wall of CGI and make-up, to the point where they might as well have made him a totally animated character and not bothered hiring an actor, or at least one as good as Foxx, for the part.
*. Instead of Foxx stealing the show the preternaturally creepy Dane DeHaan upstages him playing Harry Osborn. Though it’s a testament to how cluttered an effort this is that even at 142 minutes Osborn’s transformation into the Green Goblin is just sprung on us at the end of the movie where it plays out at as an anti-climactic hook into the (never-to-be-made) next film. At least Foxx’s Electro would be back (he’s signed to appear in Spider-Man: No Way Home), but for DeHaan’s Goblin it was the end of the line. I guess he’s still locked up in the local Arkham bughouse.
*. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone back as Peter and Gwen. Apparently they were dating at the time but there’s little chemistry showing up on screen. I can’t help thinking that neither of them really wanted to be here. And Garfield looks even goofier than he did in the first movie, which is kind of bothering. I mean Tobey Maguire looked goofy too, but not this weird. Then there’s Sally Field back as worried Aunt Mae and Dennis Leary as an unwelcome ghostly presence. What’s the point of having Dennis Leary around if he doesn’t even get to speak? That makes about as much sense as what they did to Jamie Foxx.
*. It’s all weak. The original Electro had been a hydro engineer who was struck by lightning (or something like that) while repairing a line. Since then he’s been rebooted several times. Here he’s a nebbish guy who falls into a tank of mutant electric eels. Yes, really. (Oscorp, in this universe, is the great spawning ground for superheroes and villains.) Anyway, as origin stories go this struck me as pretty darn silly.
*. There’s nothing special about the action stuff. The fight scenes are very big but weightless. Spider-Man literally gets bounced around like a human pinball in his fight with Electro but he just shakes it off. Gwen dies and I couldn’t care less. Or, to be honest, I felt a bit of relief. I didn’t like their romance anyway. But try explaining how you messed that one up to the ghost of Dennis Leary, Pete!
*. A big cheeseburger of a superhero movie that throws way too much at us, wallows in clichés, and isn’t much fun at all. Even die-hard Spidey fans didn’t seem to want any more of this crap. So it was time to hit the reboot button once again. As Smilin’ Stan used to say; Excelsior!