Fans of superhero movies felt it was too soon for a Spider-Man reboot in 2012, but most also (grudgingly) agreed that "The Amazing Spider-Man" was good, even though it revisited the character's origin story. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" continues director Marc Webb's vision and tries to be bigger and better than the first film. There are too many screenwriters in the kitchen, though, and the overly busy and disorganized plot ends up weakening the movie's strong points.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has become quite comfortable in his role as a crime-fighting superhero as he swings around Manhattan and takes down the bad guys. Spider-Man rescues Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) from an oncoming vehicle, and Max becomes slightly obsessed with the superhero. Peter resolves to break up with Gwen Stacy to keep her safe, fulfilling the promise he'd made to her dying father (Denis Leary) in the previous film. After a workplace accident that would have OSHA cringing, Max finds that he can control electricity and becomes Electro. Peter must save New York City, keep Gwen (Emma Stone) safe, and earn money as a photographer to help Aunt May (Sally Field) with the bills.
I'm in the minority, but "The Dark Knight" was my least favorite film of the Nolan trilogy because of the presence of two villains. Most of the movie dealt with The Joker, and just when it felt like the film was wrapping up, Two-Face became a menace and was defeated in the final 30 minutes. The movie would've been much stronger if it had ended after Batman defeats The Joker, rather than treat Two-Face as an afterthought.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" features three villains — Electro, Green Goblin, and Rhino — but none of them get enough screen time to flesh out the characters so the audience can understand their motives. The first film, which focused on only one villain, Lizard, managed to accomplish that feat. Instead, what we get is Electro changing from a fan to a foe in the blink of an eye, and Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan, channeling Edward Furlong in "Terminator 2") devolving from being Peter's best friend to becoming the Green Goblin in a few days' time.
In addition to the deluge of foes, there's a lengthy subplot that should've been saved for the third film, as its omission wouldn't have affected the rest of the movie. Instead, it's shoehorned into this entry, further diluting its impact.
Given all of these disparate elements, it's not really a surprise that the story doesn't gel. There are simply too many things vying for your attention, and the movie doesn't focus on any of them long enough to make a lasting impression.
Although the movie is packed to the gills, one component that's missing is Spidey's connection to the people of New York. So much time is spent on villains and unnecessary subplots that there wasn't enough room to showcase him interacting with New Yorkers. It's implied when Peter comes home at night, exhausted and with a filthy costume, but that scene doesn't address the void.
Despite these shortcomings, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" manages to advance the franchise in a few ways. The CGI for Electro is great, and when he grows stronger and can disintegrate into thin air and zap lightning from his fingertips, it's a sight to behold. Spider-Man flies through the air and performs impressive acrobatic feats with ease, demonstrating how his abilities have progressed from the first film. There are also a couple of slow-motion "bullet time" sequences during more intense battles.
There's something very convincing about Garfield as Peter/Spidey, whether he's showing up late for his high school graduation, spouting flippant one-liners as he dispatches enemies, or wrestling with the decision to love Gwen or keep her safe. Garfield and Stone are the best thing about the movie, and apparently their on-screen chemistry is just as strong off-screen.
The post-production 3-D is passable, and there are a handful of scenes designed specifically for the effect, but you're not missing much if you opt to skip it.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is the ADHD of superhero films. Although the CGI work is impressive and Garfield and Stone have charm to spare, there are too many different things going on at once, and the movie ends up meandering and overstaying its welcome. This really could've benefited from more prudent story choices and editing.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 2 hours and 22 minutes. It is showing in 2-D, 3-D and 3-D IMAX.
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