THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 is slightly better than its predecessor, but we unfortunately still haven’t gotten a great Spider-Man film from either the Raimi trilogy or the reboot. 

Picking up where the reboot left off, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is becoming much more comfortable in his new skin. New York has begun to warm up to Spider-Man and he’s got legions of fans. 

It’s still tricky though for him to balance his crime-fighting alter-ego with his responsibilities. There’s also that promise he made to the dying Captain Stacy (Dennis Leary) that he would leave his daughter Gwen (Emma Stone) out of it. Always nagging at him, he can’t decide to commit to her or not, even though he clearly loves her. 

Problems arise when pushed-around OSCORP lackey Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) is accidently mutated into a being of living electricity. Calling himself Electro, he channels his anger at the world toward Spider-Man and anyone who gets in his way. 

Adding to the confusion is the return of Peter’s childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan). After the death of his father Norman, he inherits OSCORP but also discovers that he is dying from a rare genetic disease and probably will die horribly if he doesn’t get an antidote. Could Spider-Man’s blood hold the key? Desperate to live, Harry will stop at nothing to find out. 

As with the previous film, there’s a lot to like about THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. Once again it’s on track tonally. It’s exciting and fun. Director Marc Webb allows there to be situational humor but keeps the film firmly tethered to a more realistic approach and not veering into the flights of comical fancy that Raimi’s did much to the vexation of fans. 

I also liked Electro. I found him to be a compelling villain even though he got a little over the top at times. Visually he’s really striking and even I was wondering how Spider-Man would defeat him, as he seems nearly indestructible. 

My big issues came with the human elements. Garfield and Stone are terrific as the star-crossed lovers but it’s too much. It’s as if the entire multi-season FRIENDS’ Ross and Rachel “will they or won’t they” love affair has been jammed into one movie. Peter and Gwen break up and get back together so many times in this film that I couldn’t keep track. 

Another issue is the “Too many villains” syndrome. It’s not as bad as in SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007), which was a complete mess, but it’s still too much plot to jam into one film. 

At the end of the day, I enjoyed THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 but they’ve really got to make these films better. I want to LOVE these movies like I do the other Marvel films. THE AVENGERS and CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER have raised the bar so high and I wish SONY would follow their lead. 

One final note. I saw the movie in IMAX 3D. It was only the second film I’ve seen in IMAX (THE DARK KNIGHT being the other). It was pretty damn impressive and the 3D worked for me. Unlike most 3D films, which feel like a waste of the technology, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 utilized it well. I’m not exactly recommending you to see it in 3D, but if you do it actually might be worth the extra cash.


MAY 2, 2014