Direction: Marc Webb
Actors: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone
The first thing to be said about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is that, despite the overload of embittered new villains, the thrills are not overabundant. The superhero saga barely even justifies the continuing use of its titular adjective.
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At the start of the fifth installment of the series — after Sam Raimi’s origin trilogy (2002-2007) and the 2012 reboot — the parents of the protagonist perish in a plane hijack. The adolescent orphan who moonlights as an arachnoid vigilante (Garfield, reprising the role he took over from Tobey Maguire two years ago) is now determined to protect the people of Manhattan from the deathly designs of the vice brigade.
In the midst of all the mayhem, Spidey also finds time to woo his sassy sweetheart (Stone) and investigate the mystery surrounding his parents’ death.
The aptly surnamed returning director Mark Webb ups the action ante with sky-swinging set pieces but the rearranged plot is a jumble which merely stretches the running time to two-and-a-half hours. The script’s occasional attempts at dramatic intensity fall flat.
There’s cracking chemistry between the young leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. As it happens, the couple is also romantically involved off-screen.
Among the raft of new nemeses, count Jamie Foxx as the sad-sack engineer who falls into a vat of electric eels and transforms into an energy-sucking dynamo. It’s Dane DeHaan, however, who’s the standout as the wealthy childhood friend who shares a love-hate relationship with the crime-buster.
After a devastating turn of events towards the climax, the spectacle loses some of its snap. A coda seems tacked on only to introduce another thuggish megalomaniac (Paul Giamatti). Oh, and to remind spi-hards of two further sequels slated for 2016 and 2018.