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Article by Teddy Durgin

New Spidey is not quite amazing, but still very entertaining

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" has enough material in it for two or three movies. And that's the problem with it, but it's not as big a problem as some other reviewers are making it out to be. It's a good flick; it has loads of spectacle, action, heart and humor. But it could have been a great movie had the filmmakers not gone the Joel Schumacher "Batman" route and overstuffed their already crowded superhero flick. And while the first "Amazing Spider-Man" was a tiresome origin story a mere decade after the last "Spidey" origin story, at least it was a focused film with just one villain - Curt Connors' The Lizard. Now, with "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," rather than stay focused, the film gives us not one, not two, but THREE villains - Jamie Foxx's Electro, Dane DeHaan's eventual Green Goblin and Paul Giamatti's Rhino. Plus, there is the Peter/Gwen romance and a way-too-long subplot involving Peter's late father. After a needless flashback prologue involving Peter's dad, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" kicks in where it should have - with Spidey already in the middle of an action sequence, trying to stop the Russian mobster who will become the Rhino from getting away with an armored truck full of weapons-grade plutonium. The sequence is the best of its kind in a Spidey flick since the great subway train bit in Raimi's second "Spider-Man" film. It showcases Spidey's humor, his speed and strength, and it sets some kind of record for smashed cars with New York license plates. The film then does a nice job of picking up where the last one ended in terms of the emotional dynamics at work in this particular incarnation of the character and his story. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is trying to keep a promise he made to Denis Leary's dying cop from the first film - to stay away from his daughter, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Being Spider-Man is too dangerous to anyone who comes to care about him, he tells him with his last breath. But Peter can't stay away from Gwen. He loves her. And Gwen is adamant that she sets her own destiny. Meanwhile, at the evil Oscorp, the massive public company is still dealing with the stock-price fallout from the mayhem Connors caused in the first film. It's now under the control of the late founder's son, Harry Osborn (DeHaan), and he is afflicted with the same terminal illness his father succumbed to. His answer: He needs the blood of Spider-Man and its regenerative powers to live on. It becomes his obsession. Elsewhere (there are a lot of "meanwhiles" and "elsewheres" with this movie), nerdy electrical engineer Max Dillon is being put upon by all his Oscorp colleagues and the world, in general. But when he falls into a vat of genetically altered electric eels, he becomes Electro - think Emperor Palpatine crossed with one of those old plasma globes from Spencer's in the mall - and is able to manipulate the city's power grid with frightening results. Had the movie either been about Harry and his transformation to the Green Goblin or Max and his descent into Electro madness and coupled that A plot with the Peter/Gwen romance - POW! - you would have had a much better, tighter film. By trying to keep all of these balls in the air throughout, the film rushes through both villains' origin stories, you never quite know if you should feel any sort of sympathy for either Harry or Max, and subplots tend to come in clumps with little grace in the transitions. Two things elevate the film above its flaws, though. One, the cast. Garfield and Stone, in particular, are absolutely terrific together. Second, the action is off-the-charts! The Rhino vehicle rampage and the Times Square battle are pure big-screen bliss. And late in the film, it even has what I call its Tiananmen Square moment, and wow... just wow! The film is equal parts "Wow!" and "Huh?!" But it IS worth seeing.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.

 

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