Concepts are good, but story is better
In his critique, Film Crit Hulk Smash provides a terse diagnostic of Amazing Spider-Man 2 (“Hulk’s Burning Questions for the Amazing Spider-Man 2,” birthmoviesdeath.com, May 6, 2014): “WHY DOES THIS CREATIVE TEAM KEEP FLIRTING WITH CONCEPTS AND THEN NOT ACTUALLY DEALING WITH THEM OR EXPLORING THEM? […] WHY DO WRITERS CONTINUALLY NOT UNDERSTAND THAT SCREENTIME ISN’T ABOUT POSITIONING THE LOGISTICS OF WHY PEOPLE DO WHATEVER, BUT ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIPS AND THE MEANING OF THOSE RELATIONSHIPS?” And there’s so much more quotable stuff in there.
Arthur Tebbel is just as harsh: “Stop teasing me on the Sinister Six if you can’t give me one compelling villain in this movie. Stop giving me the mystery of Peter Parker’s parents when you can neither give Aunt May enough space nor have Peter remember the death of his uncle.” (“Box Office Democracy: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, www.comicmix.com, May 5, 2014).
And to really drive it home, SouronsBane1 adds: “What’s even worse is the fact that there are a number of more minor subplots that come up out of nowhere, have valuable screen-time dedicated to setting them up…and then they ultimately end up going nowhere as well.” (“Why It Didn’t Work: The Amazing Spider-Man 2,”www.comicbookmovie.com, May 28, 2014.)
The idea here isn’t to belabour the point on this movie that certainly had its share of bad reviews, but to learn something and improve our own writing abilities. We often get the impression that writers and screenwriters want to stand out for ever-more-complex plots, when it takes a lot of effort to express a simple story. Simplicity doesn’t mean lack of complexity, but it should mean lack of complication. And when we’re polishing grand ideas, we tend to forget the small details that make a real difference. The question we should ask ourselves is: “Does this plot have too many improbabilities, too many gratuitous coincidences, that in the end the reader will more interested in pointing them out than in getting absorbed into the story?” The answer isn’t simple, but a little logic should be deployed in a story.