I agree with people saying the movie was trying too hard to set up a franchise, you could have picked any two of the three main threads and still had a solid, well-packed movie (the Rhino stuff was more of a teaser for ASM3). Mostly good scripting, although Sally Fields really got stuck with some of the worst clunkers...she may be good, but she can't work miracles.
Okay, that's enough space. Here's a cut for people actually still using LJ.
Green Goblin killed Gwen Stacy.
Unlike the original death, where she was only involved as a victim, a tool to use against Spidey, a sort of proto-fridging, they make it very VERY clear that this time she's dying a hero.
Yeah, the specific details of her death are the same. Goblin's actions cause her to plummet to her death, Spider-Man catches her but too late, and the harsh laws of physics largely ignored for most of the movie get their horrible revenge for being so maltreated. Snap.
But instead of being in the position to be killed because she's a victim, Gwen is there because she charged into danger. She helped save the city, without her Spider-Man might still have stopped Electro, but not before hundreds or thousands died. He made every effort to keep her out of the danger, but she stole a police car and chased after him.
While the movie doesn't come out and have Peter say as much, what had to be eating him up during the graveside montage is that absent gaining powers of her own, this was pretty much how Gwen was going to die. Period. She loved him too much to stay out of his life, and she had inherited her father's strong ethos and wouldn't stand by and watch when she could help (something made pretty clear in the first movie). And she's SMARTER THAN SPIDER-MAN. So, as long as Peter kept using his powers to make a difference, she'd be there too...for as long as a physically-normal human could survive doing it. Which was not very long at all, as it turned out.
In a movie already packed with plotlines, Gwen's was the one that actually tied the movie together. Her valedictorian's speech at both beginning and end justified what heroes do, be they super or regular. Yeah, she died, but she died because she chose to live in a way that doomed her, but she refused to let that doom stop her.
The "S" doesn't stand for hope. The hot blond supergenius stands for hope.