The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Dir. Marc Webb

[Columbia Pictures; 2014]

Styles: action, adventure, comic book adaptation
Others: The Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Superman

If you were still — after 2012’s lackluster reboot — wondering to yourself why Sony Pictures was moving forward with another run of Spider-Man movies in the wake of Sam Raimi’s trilogy, the answer may come clear to you with this second Marc Webb installment. The plan, apparently, was to put the character of Peter Parker into a modern context and make him relatable to today’s average moviegoer.

On paper, this is how the character is supposed to be: the goofy nerd turned superhero by unusual means. In the original series, Tobey Maguire’s Spider-man added an emphasis on the human in superhuman. But the writers of Amazing Spider-Man 2 instead have turned Parker &dmash; played now by Andrew Garfield — into the perfectly exaggerated post-Apatovian hero: quick-witted goofball who, when he’s not stopping buses from flipping over and thwarting the evil plans of a supervillian, is agonizing over his lot in life. He’s kinda emo. Pluck him and Emma Stone (who plays Gwen Stacy) out of this film and drop them in the plot of romantic comedy and their obvious chemistry and repartee would shine. But spot-weld it into the plot of a costumed superhero film and the rapid shifts in tone are enough to give you seasickness.

What surrounds all of Spidey’s romantic and personal misadventures is a pretty solid action flick. As he’s juggling his day-to-day life with what he sees as his responsibility to protect the people of New York, he runs afoul of both his old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and Max (Jaime Foxx), a nebbish electrical engineer obsessed with the web slinger. In the case of the former, the young billionaire is suffering from the same genetic ailment that befell his father and is convinced that Spider-Man’s blood, with its healing elements, is the cure. Spidey disagrees and sends him into a rage; he vows vengeance. Max, on the other hand, is subject to a terrible accident, which turns him into a being that feeds off electricity. Or as he deems himself: Electro. Spider-Man does his best to reason with Max, but to no avail. Electro is captured, tortured, and eventually joins forces with Harry to bring down the hero and the world. But you might have surmised all that from the commercials that have been inundating our world for the past two months.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 is your typical cornball comic book fare, yet it does find some honest to goodness thrills. The fight scenes may be beholden to the world of CGI, but they don’t have the hyperactive brain smearing that ruined even the original Spider-Man trilogy. The final standoff between Harry, Electro, and Peter — with poor Gwen Stacy an unwitting pawn in the action — is particularly wowing, with tense moments.

This being a modern action film, though, the heartache and tortured soul of its main character must be folded into the story somehow. Cue the montage of Peter trying to figure out the fate of his scientist parents to the tune of some Irish folk/Mumford & Sons knockoff, or shots of Spidey spying on his beloved from afar because he just… can’t… let… go. Take some cues from the most recent Captain America (TMT Review) and give us only as much backstory as will help get us to the next big action sequence. Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.

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