In another year full of superhero flicks, Marc Webb's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" fails to overcome the overstuffed nature that befell many other previous costumed heroes, including the previous Spider-Man in the third installment of Sam Raimi's films.
The thrilling cinematic advantage "Spider-Man" (once again played by the immensely talented Andrew Garfield) has over many of Marvel's other heroes, is the aesthetic pleasure of seeing him spinning his webs through the city. After a mysterious opening sequence involving Peter Parker's father uploading unknown information onto his computer as a hijacked plane spins out of control, we find Spider-Man doing exactly that, and it works.
The most child-friendly of all superheroes, Spider-Man is clever and cocky, and in an early scene Webb takes full advantage of the character's comic roots. Spider-Man, along with an extremely exaggerated number of cop cars, is chasing down an armored vehicle driven by Russian criminal and soon-to-be super-villain Rhino (Paul Giamatti). With every maneuver around Rhino's attacks he's making wisecracks, while never forgetting to stop and save all those who find themselves in danger's way.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield)?spends more time dealing with personal problems than spinning webs in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
The chemistry between Andrew Garfield’s Peter?Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy remains a bright spot in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
In addition to Rhino there's Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), a much misunderstood electrical engineer at Oscorp who takes his idolization of Spider-Man to a whole new level and, in typical super-villain fashion, becomes "Electro" thanks to a workplace incident that involves a lot of eels and some serious electricity. Electro makes for some very exciting visual set-pieces only to be subdued for the majority of the movie in a large vat of water, while becoming the subject of tests done by Oscorp scientists.
When he's not fighting villains, we see Spider-Man exerting a positive influence on his community - for example, saving a young boy with his science fair project from a gang of bullies - intercut with radio broadcasts of citizens talking about what a nuisance the vigilante superhero really is, without evidence of how he's negatively impacted anything.
The film takes a turn for the worse, and ceases to be the spectacle a Spider-Man film should be, spending too much time focusing on Peter's own personal struggles, like his attempt to discover the man his father really was, and what actually happened to him. Much of the film focuses on his struggle to balance his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) with his moral obligation as Spider-Man, and on his attempt to rekindle an old friendship with Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan), who turns out to want nothing more from Peter than to take advantage of his connections with Spider-Man.
To be fair, Webb does what he can to get the most out of his actors and to surpass the many troubles screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman laid out for him, and he somewhat succeeds. Garfield's chemistry with Stone lends the film enough romantic promise to keep the audience emotionally engaged, and Sally Field's emotional turn as Aunt May is able to keep her character's subplot from being entirely worthless. The film contains too many villains, subplots and side characters, and I have no idea why Felicia Jones was cast in this movie.
Much of this is due to Sony's attempt to follow the ultra-successful example Marvel Studios set with "The Avengers" by slowly integrating characters they plan to utilize more in their own future installments, and unfortunately "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" has one too many underdeveloped villains to get me excited for a "Sinister Six" movie.
2 stars out of 4.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence.