Movie review: 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' falls well short of 'Wow!'

What It's AboutMay 1, 2014 

Oh, Spidey, what a tangled web you've weaved. The second installment of the franchise reboot showcases dizzying aerial stunts and fantastic adrenalin-rush thrill-ride camera work, but forgot to focus on giving the disjointed story some oomph and credibility.

Overstuffed yet feeling empty, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" spent more effort on looks. Therefore, it deflates midway.

The laborious result fails to ultimately connect despite introducing three super-villains and emphasizing heartache. Peter Parker is tormented by his abandonment as a child and his parents' secrets, and deathbed promise to Gwen's dad that he can't keep.

Performances

All of the actors try so hard to make their roles meaningful, but they could only do so much with what they were given on the page.

I like Andrew Garfield as the gawky, geeky teen Peter Parker, but the filmmakers want him to be cool and a nerd, and you can't be both. The quips he spouts as the cocky confident superhero are mostly lame, and remind us how Sam Raimi's earlier trilogy did a much better job with character development.

Because Garfield and leading lady Emma Stone, as brainiac Gwen Stacy, are a real-life couple, director Marc Webb lingers the camera too long on their encounters, too much time on gooey looks to indicate how deep their love is. We get it. Move on.

The pair's chemistry is a definite plus, and they make the complicated teen love story believable, but hammering the points about the pitfalls of a superhero in a relationship gets excessive, particularly when the villainry arc isn't well-established.

Oscar winner Jamie Foxx is neither convincing as a dorky electric engineer nor evil destroyer -- but the visual effects of Electro, and the havoc he wreaks, are impressive.

Up-and-comer Dane DeHaan ("The Place Beyond the Pines") is a bland Harry Osborn, but demonstrates he can grow into Green Goblin effectively in the next film. Paul Giamatti shows up to introduce Rhino, with little impact.

Basically the sequel sets up the next installment much better than focusing on the matters at hand.

What Works

Spidey zipping around Manhattan is marvelous eye candy, and the point of view is astounding -- the visual effects teams have advanced their art form.

But then there is overkill -- exorbitant, redundant scenes of destruction where fireballs erupt, debris flies everywhere after explosions, and the city is in ruins. It's taken to extremes when you're just watching things blow up again and again.

I'll watch Garfield and Stone in anything, so I'll be back for the next rounds, but really like to be engaged in the story.

What Doesn't Work

Sorely in need of editing and restraint, "The Amazing Spider-Man" disappoints. Instead of 'amazing,' it's merely average, when it had the tools to "Wow!"

The drippiest movie cliche -- a montage to a popular hit song -- is unearthed here without conviction.

Marvel releasing this soon after "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" isn't a smart move at all, because it invites comparison, and the patriot from World War II fares much better than the brooding orphan who scales skyscrapers.

2 1/2 stars out of 4

Director: Marc Webb

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Field, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Chris Cooper, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Paul Giamatti, Denis Leary

Rated: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence

Length: 2:22

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