Garfield gives Peter a touching sensitivity and Spidey the playful wryness the
Marc Webb is back in the director's chair, and with the help of an extensive special effects force and the very talented cinematographer Dan Mindel, delivers a great many sticky stunts involving building-hopping, crime-stopping and the crashing and crushing of roughly a million cars. But as "Spider-Man 2" so emphatically proves, there are only so many ways to spin that web before it stops being cool.
As the film opens, Spider-Man is doing a little street cleaning in
Then it's a sprint for Peter to make his high school graduation before Aunt May (
Gwen's speech is a swell one about living your best life that somehow sounds very
In "Spider-Man 2," all things evil exist in the towering skyscraper where Oscorp is headquartered. It's the company Peter's dad worked for before he disappeared — more about Peter's missing parents will be revealed in one of several plot detours this movie takes. The company's secret mission to save founder Norman Osborn from a terrible, and terribly ill-defined, disease has failed.
The screenplay heads in many directions and turns to multiple villains including the infamous Green Goblin (DeHaan) to answer that question. The most visible is Electro, a muscled-up and electrified
As is usually the case with comic-book bad guys, Electro wasn't born that way. Since
DeHaan fares a little better. His bad Harry, a bitter and entitled youth, is right in the actor's sweet spot, though it was better served in "Kill Your Darlings," where he played the Beat Generation's Lucien Carr.
What doesn't work as well in "2" is the human factor, the one beyond Peter and Gwen's complicated entanglements or the superhero showdowns.
The bond between Spidey and the fearful and fleeing masses, which should be emotional and strong, has lost its personal touch. Done well — as it was in the original "Amazing" when the saving of a boy led to a father helping a wounded Spider-Man in grand fashion — the interaction between the ordinary guy and the extraordinary one captures the heroic spirit we look for in these films.
There's a kid in harm's way in this movie too, but the scenes feel contrived, as if the writers realized that connection was missing. It is, but their fix doesn't fix it.
Spider-Man's real struggle is always between taking care of the people he loves and the world he's destined to save. That story arc is there in "Amazing Spider-Man 2" and provides some of the film's most moving moments. But frankly Electro has a better chance than love does of surviving all the pyrotechnics, and that is ultimately what brings this high-flying "Spider-Man" down.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Running time: 2 hours, 22 minutes