“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” casts a very wide web — looping in three crackling arch-villains and some minor evil-doers, a sweetly tortured love story involving broody Peter Parker/Spidey and brainy-cute Gwen Stacy, a dizzying CGI arsenal of swinging acrobatic effects and physics-defying fights and a swooping, eye-dazzling Cook’s tour of Manhattan landmarks.
It’s all by way of cobbling together a new chapter of the Marvel Comics superhero saga that’s stuffed to the gills and dangerously close to being overcooked as it attempts to be all things to all movie fans. In the hands of the opportunely named returning director Marc Webb, the movie maintains a delicate balance. As he did in 2012’s first film, Webb manages this so-called rebooting of the franchise by juggling some tried-and-true foundation elements and origin details with a few new wrinkles in an effort to satisfy super-picky comic-book fanatics and to court the more casual crowd of summer popcorn munchers.
For the most part, Webb succeeds, although at a cost of making a film that feels overlong, overplotted and narratively mechanical.
The emotional linchpin of the story is Peter Parker (30-year-old Andrew Garfield) juggling his upcoming high school graduation and superhero duties as Spider-Man with his burning ardor for perky Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, the very definition of perk) and keeping in mind his oath to her dying police-chief father to shield her from danger by breaking off their relationship.
This time out, Garfield seems to have settled easily into the dual role, and he swaggers and swings through the big action scenes with athletic aplomb, while still projecting a funny, sexy, awkward boyishness that makes Parker so appealing. Matching him quip for quip and sparking up some surefire romantic energy — perhaps fueled by the actors’ widely publicized off-screen romance — is cupcake-cute Stone, whose essential, earthy allure makes Gwen’s eventual fate (comic-book fans will know what we mean) all the more distressing.
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‘THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2’
PG-13 2:22 2 1/2 stars
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan. (Sequences of sci-fi action/violence)