Screen Gems review: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"

Courtesy: Sony Pictures

May 2, 2014
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2"
Studio: Sony Pictures
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence

In the second installment of the rebooted saga of Marvel`s web slinger, Andrew Garfield returns in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."

His Peter Parker is still head over heels for the love of his life, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). As they navigate their relationship, Parker is concerned his alter-ego might be a problem as their relationship deepens. That concern is bolstered when Peter discovers the giant company Oscorp has been conducting surveillance on him.

Of course, Oscorp is the place which produced the villain of the first movie, the Lizard. And now it appears that more shenanigans are afoot. The corporation serves as the birthplace for yet another super villain. This time it's a lowly

And now, more shenanigans are afoot as Oscorp is the birthplace of yet another bad guy with powers. Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) is a lowly engineer ignored by his co-workers. The one bright spot in his life is his hero, Spider-Man. Max idolizes the hero, and when they have a chance meeting on the street Max feels like they've bonded.

However, Spider-Man is unaware of the impact he's made on Max's life. For him it's just another day of saving people. When Spidey doesn't show up for Max's very lonely birthday, the man's feelings of adoration and love turn to anger and hate. Max feels abandoned and betrayed by his idol, which fuels a rage we'll see play out as the story progresses.

In his despair, Max runs into trouble at work. His concerns about the safety of Oscorp's workers fall on deaf ears. An accident plunges him into an experimental tank full of electrical eels. Through chance, Max is tranformed into a being who can control and transmit electrical energy.

Still seething at Spider-Man, the newly-created Electro plots his revenge on his former idol.

Meanwhile, Peter has no idea of what's going through Max's head. During his investigation of Oscorp he finds that the company is at the center of many of his life's tragedies. Peter's childhood friend Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan) re-enters the picture to lead the company. The son of Oscorp's founder takes over the company's daily operations. He has many questions about his own life which Harry says only Peter can answer.

In the midst of trying to unravel the mysteries surrounding Oscorp's connection to the death of his parents, Spider-Man still swings through the city. He's saving lives while trying to maintain a balance in his personal life and keep Gwen happy. Garfield's take on the character is much different than what we saw from Tobey Maguire. He's more confident and self-assured. But matters of the heart are still difficult to navigate and they ultimately prove to be Peter's biggest weakness.

Through the trials and tribulations of his life, Peter's main concern is to keep Gwen safe. To uphold the promise he made to her dying father in the first film, Peter decides its best to cut off ties with her. That leaves them both miserable. Peter realizes that without Gwen life doesn't have much meaning, so he rectifies his mistake and the pair reunites. Unfortunately, superhero love stories rarely have happy endings.

The story moves to its climax when Electro causes a city-wide blackout. Spider-Man and Gwen try to stop him, but an even more dangerous foe makes a surprise appearance in the film`s final stages. Spider-Man must somehow find a way to defeat two incredibly powerful foes while keeping Gwen from harm.

There are many things to like about this movie. Garfield and Stone are perfect as the young lovers Peter and Gwen. They`re funny and sarcastic and sincere. The chemistry between them is a true highlight.

On the other side of the coin, Foxx and Dehaan are very good as the film`s antagonists. At first friendly with Peter, they become unstable, hard to predict and very deadly.

The costumes and special effect are top notch. Spider-Man has never looked better. His powers and abilities are clearly defined as we see Spider-Man do his thing, including several sequences which are shown in slow-motion. He looks like the real deal. This story has action and a deep story with mystery and suspense. It contains just about everything you would want in a top-notch superhero movie, with the exception of a satisfying conclusion.

I didn`t like the way the story takes a dark turn near the finale. I know that the twist is true to the character`s comic book roots, but I fear the franchise will be severely damaged if it moves forward.

We will see.

On my rating scale, despite my misgivings with the climax, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" earns THREE DIAMONDS. The shaky finale keeps it from being a great movie. Instead, it's merely very good.

FOUR DIAMONDS=A fantastic movie! A must see!
THREE DIAMONDS=A good movie with minor flaws.
TWO DIAMONDS=An average movie with some entertaining scenes or performances.
ONE DIAMOND=A very poor movie with few entertaining scenes or performances.
LUMP OF COAL=Skip it, it's just plain awful.

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