At two-and-a-half hours the new Spider-Man movie is almost equal parts action and story. The first fifteen minutes contains not one, but two wild action sequences that’ll make your eyeballs dance. If you haven’t had your fill of special effects for the week your thirst will be quenched early on. Then the onslaught of story begins. Jammed packed with plot, bad guys and lots and lots of moony-eyed love, it’s the busiest superhero movie in recent memory.
Fresh out of high school Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is being pulled in two different directions. He loves Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) but is troubled by a promise he made to her late father (Dennis Leary) that he would never let anything bad happen to her.
Meanwhile, Peter’s old friend Harry Osborn (Dane De Haan), heir to the OsCorp fortune, is battling a hereditary genetic disease he thinks can be cured with a dose of Spider-Man’s blood and Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), a low level OsCorp electrical engineer, has an accident that rewires him into Electro, a highly charged villain with the power to control electricity.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is this is a movie with several well-crafted dramatic moments. Too bad most of them feel like they’re lifted from another movie and dropped into this one as placeholders for the action sequences. Peter Parker is shedding tears over his love life one minute, swinging on webby vines through the streets the next. Both tones are well executed, but they often feel forced together.
Garfield works to distance himself from Tobey McGuire’s Spider-Man. First thing you notice is that he’s not as mopey as McGuire; as Parker Garfield is nerdy and angsty, not downcast and ennui ridden.
Secondly, he’s witty when playing the web slinger. The Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” movies didn’t use Spidey’s comic book sarcasm but Garfield’s Mach 2 version isn’t shy to let loose with some entertaining trash talking.
His portrayal is bright, punchy and more akin to the comic books than anything McGuire or Raimi put on film.
Emma Stone’s football-sized eyes and smart smile rescue Gwen from the simply fulfilling the girlfriend role. She brings some spark to the character and shares some good chemistry with (real life boyfriend) Garfield.
Speaking of sparks, Foxx could have used a few more as Electro. A bundle of neurosis before his electro charged accident, Max becomes one of the rare villains who was more interesting before he got his powers.
De Haan, who was so good in “Chronicle,” is interesting as Harry / Green Goblin. His obsession with finding a cure for his disease is a springboard for his transformation into the Goblin and Da Haan embraces a malevolence that makes the character memorable.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” has good actors—plus a fun cameo from Paul Giamatti—a love story and some good action—you will believe a man can swing above the streets of New York—so why does it feel somewhat unsatisfying?
Maybe it’s the two-and-a-half-hour running time, or the something-for-everyone mix of action, heartbreak and comedy, or perhaps it’s the fact that it feels like a well made copy of the first Garfield “Spider-Man” movie, which itself was a riff on the McGuire movies.