Love and villains clash in sequel

by Alek Sanchez

Another summer of superheroes begins as the second installment of the “The Amazing Spider-Man” series swings its way into theaters. Andrew Garfield reprises his iteration as the quick-witted Peter Parker, with the lovable Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy by his side.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” opens up by shedding more light on the tragic disappearance of Peter’s parents, Mary (Embeth Davidtz) and Richard Parker (Campbell Scott), and further adds to the mystery of Oscorp Industries. As the film jumps back to the present day, viewers are thrust into the daily adventures of the web-slinger. Watching the film in 3-D was a treat, as moviegoers become fully immersed into a living New York City.

We are reintroduced to Gwen Stacy, Peter’s high-school love and the source of his internal conflict for much of the movie. Peter is constantly haunted by the image of her late father, Capt. Stacy (Dennis Leary). He promised to stay away from his daughter, for her safety. The internal conflict between being with Gwen and protecting her fuels most of the story along the way, leading to a nail-biting climax.

From Gwen to Peter’s Aunt May (Sally Field), the story does a great job in tying emotions together within the action, which is something other superhero movies fail to nail down.  A huge part of the emotional success is Garfield’s portrayal of Peter. His wise-cracking quips and witty banter help build a great chemistry between his friends and family, but also his foes.

And that brings us to the main villain: an introverted, forgettable nobody engineer working for Oscorp. No one remembers Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), but it isn’t until he suffers an unfortunate accident that left him as a shockingly powerful electromagnetic being, that all eyes were on him. Hell-bent on killing Spider-Man, the now-dubbed Electro teams up with Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), as they have a common vendetta against Spider-Man.

While the two work to set up the supervillain group, the Sinister Six, for the next installment, the unbalance of screen time and development leaves a lot to be desired. Again, a Spider-Man film falls into the pit of including too many villains and leaves the audience occasionally underwhelmed. If anything, Peter and Gwen’s relationship stands at the forefront of this film, and his enemies only serve to distract him from that.

Electro has a lot of potential here, but his insufficient screen time hinders any real development. Foxx does a great job in conveying the awkwardness of Max, but turns on the intensity as the killer Electro.

DeHaan pulls off this iteration of Harry/Green Goblin not just as a brooding and neglected heir to Oscorp with father issues, but also as Peter’s longtime, yet estranged, childhood friend. Unfortunately, he serves more as a subplot and nagging loose end rather than a full on supervillain gunning for Spider-Man’s head.

Even Aleksei Sytsevich, aka Rhino (Paul Giamatti) barely deserves any mention as he only functions as a prologue and epilogue for the film with his over-campy mechsuit.

By the end of the movie the action had me on the edge of my seat, and for the first time since “50/50,” almost to tears.  As a fantasy-filled action-adventure, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is full of high-energy thrills, witty banter and heartwarming moments. The story may be weaker than some, and the execution may have been slightly off, but maybe we’re just used to a higher standard of comic-book superhero movies in this day and age. Though it does not necessarily reach Marvel standards (as it is a Sony picture), “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a worthy addition to any superhero movie collection. Kick back, relax and watch the web-slinger go to work—you won’t be disappointed.

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Courtesy of Niko Tavernise/Columba Pictures/MCT