Action and villains galore for Spidey
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (PG13)
Action/142 minutes/Opens tomorrow
Poor Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) can't catch a break. His on-off girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), may leave New York for England.
His guardian, Aunt May (Sally Field), hides a dark secret about his parents, who abandoned him as a child.
And his old buddy, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) aka the Green Goblin, is dying from a disease.
Parker's superhero alter-ego, Spider-Man, is also in for a world of hurt. Enter Electro (Jamie Foxx), a power-hungry freak who looks like a neon-lighted Smurf.
Then there's the Green Goblin, a madman on a hoverboard, and last, and certainly least in the intelligence department, is Rhino (Paul Giamatti), a Russian thug in a mecha suit.
IF I had to pick my favourite superhero, it would be Spider-Man, a wiseguy who can fire one-liners as well as his webs.
But when he's not busy saving the world, he's Peter Parker, an average Joe with girl problems and money woes. You know, real-world concerns that don't bother Thor or Batman. And, sometimes, the people he cares about get hurt.
Sam Raimi, the director of Spider-Man 2, explored this human cost of heroism with Tobey Maguire's titular character abandoning his arachnid persona out of frustration. Those who have seen that sequel would experience deja vu with Marc Webb's sophomore effort in Sony's rebooted film series.
Andrew Garfield's Parker, like Maguire's, has a love interest who might ditch him, an adoptive mother who is suspicious of his extracurricular activities and a best friend who becomes his greatest foe.
However, this newer Parker has got the looks, the moves and the zingers to make all his woes go away.
It also helps that Garfield has palpable chemistry with his on- and off-screen flame, Emma Stone.
Villain Electro's prior human alter-ego, Max Dillon, is the real underdog here. After being saved by Spidey, the overworked and underappreciated Oscorp engineer develops a man crush on him.
Following a workplace accident and a misunderstanding with his idol, Dillon becomes the blue baddie Electro.
Jamie Foxx delivers an electrifying performance (pun intended) as his tragic antagonist transforms from an unassuming geek with a dorky comb-over into a walking Tesla coil who, through his control of electricity, is able to fry his enemies and plunge an entire city into darkness.
The action sequences, especially those of Spidey flying through the concrete canyons of New York, are exhilarating in 3D, with a massive car chase and a showdown at a power plant bookending the film.
Unfortunately, like Raimi's Spider-Man 3, the film suffers from too many villains. The Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) appears too late at the climax, although he gets to commit an act which will profoundly change Parker's life and the course of future sequels.
It is fans of Rhino who will get the short end of the stick - director Webb said he appears for only four minutes. While it felt longer than that, this doesn't diminish the fact that Rhino was merely an afterthought.
Also, the film comes off as an appetiser to an impending main course. Sony announced last year that, in addition to a third Amazing Spider-Man movie, there'll be two spin-offs: Venom and Sinister Six.
In its eagerness to set up the baddies for future instalments, the film is mechanical in its story beats - a little foreshadowing here, a revelation or two there.
And, horror of horrors, it ends on a cliffhanger.