Marc Webb’s frenetic The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens with a forced hysteria; following a short prologue involving Peter Parker’s father, Spider-man (Andrew Garfield looking more and more like 60’s era Anthony Perkins) chases down a truck full of plutonium through the streets of New York. It has an abundance of close calls, web-slinging, one-liners and destruction but fails to project a genuine sense of urgency or even feel like things are actually happening. It all feels like a Universal Studios theme park ride. Gears shift quickly and Peter catches up with girlfriend and recently graduated Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). They have one of many,many (see:many) relationship conversations that feel at once cute, awkward, silly, contrived and occasionally sweet. These scenes give us something to cling to as well as some thoughtful moments between Peter and his aunt May (a wonderfully emotional Sally Field).
We also get Spidy foe Electro (Jamie Foxx) who starts out in full nerd cliché mode (pocket protector, comb over and obligatory chip on his shoulder ) and ends up with a massive, synthesized voice and impressive CGI make-over. I really loved how he looked. And yet the long build up to his villainous transformation gives way to some shrill battling that ends rather abruptly and then he’s gone.
That’s ok because while this is all going on there is yet another storyline involving Peter Parker’s old friend Harry Osborne (Dane Dehaan) who has recently inherited his father’s company OsCorp but then is fired by said company via some confusing narrative that just further adds to the film’s long ( and I do mean loooong) and tiresome running time. He eventually begins his journey towards becoming the Green Goblin thanks to some leftover venom from the radioactive spiders that Peter was bit by. New York city is rife with costumed, science-orientated villains.
I am not sure what possessed the filmmakers to feel obligated to stuff so many elements into this entry. Oh, I should mention that there’s yet another villain (Paul Giamatti doing everything but acting) revealed near the end in a scene that is beyond ridiculous. I wasn’t able to fully embrace the quieter, well acted character scenes because they were broken up by frantic, borderline-silly action scenes and bloated exposition that proved more distracting than anything else. Unlike the recent and excellently realized Captain America sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks and feels like a very expensive piece of machinery with plenty of bells and whistles but little else. Not recommended.