Three-and-a-half out of five stars
It's obvious that Andrew Garfield loves playing Spider-Man. He loves the costume, he loves the dialogue, he loves Peter Parker’s attitude, and he loves the way Peter loves Gwen Stacy.
And that's why "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is so much fun to watch.
In the sequel to 2012's "The Amazing Spider-Man," Peter continues to struggle with his origin. Why did his parents leave? He needs answers. We, the audience, get to fill in the blanks a bit with an exciting and moving opening sequence involving Peter’s parents (played by Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz).
Before long, we're back in present day, with a supremely confident, if not kind of cocky, Spider-Man swinging through the Big Apple, looking for ways to help. He finds one in the form of a stolen truck filled with vials of plutonium. He saves many civilians, including Max (Jamie Foxx), an excessively awkward, nerdy fellow who happens to be an electrical engineer for -- guess who? – Oscorp, the science research company that gave us the first film's villain. Spider-Man makes loner Max feel special, and it's a moment Max will never forget. He builds a shrine to Spider-Man in his apartment and even carries on pretend conversations with his hero. Foxx is pitch-perfect in the part.
When Peter is wearing his mask, life is great. But when the mask comes off, he has less control over things, and that’s a major issue as far as his girlfriend, Gwen (Emma Stone), is concerned. Peter is haunted by the promise he made to Gwen’s dying father in the first film, which was to protect Gwen from harm by leaving her out of his life. Director Mark Webb is at his best when guiding Garfield and Stone through the push-pull of these scenes. Garfield and Stone, a couple in real life, have palpable chemistry.
This tale becomes even more colorful with the introduction of Harry Osborn, played by the impressive, young Leonardo DiCaprio lookalike, Dane DeHaan. When Foxx’s Max has an unfortunate accident, turning him into the electricity-eating and generating baddie Electro, young Osborn’s newly acquired leadership of Oscorp is compromised. He's got other issues as well, one of which will lead to Harry’s transforming into a familiar green Spider-Man nemesis.
Electro is a thing of beauty, as is his rampage in New York City’s Times Square. Whatever was spent on special effects for the sequence, it was worth it.
"The Amazing-Spider-Man 2" is hardly perfect, but it is satisfying. In many ways more cartoonish than “The Amazing Spider-Man,” at the same time Peter and Gwen's love story, and Peter’s insatiable desire to find out what happened to his parents, gives this sequel a more realistic feel than its predecessor. Although it drags at times and is simply too long, dampening the emotional impact of some key plot points, the fine performances -- particularly Garfield’s and a fine closing scene -- will leave you thinking this Spider-Man is still kind of amazing.