, Newburyport, MA


May 2, 2014

Movie review: Not-so-amazing 'Spider-Man 2' undercut by overkill

And so the summer movie season begins — with a big sprawling superhero mess.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” follows the old dictum, “If you don’t know what to give the audience, throw everything you can think of at them.”

Unfortunately, that old dictum rarely works, and it certainly doesn’t here.

In this follow-up to the 2012 reboot of a franchise that’s now coughed up five films in 14 years, Spidey has to deal with girlfriend problems (as always); solve the mystery of the parents who abandoned him; help a friend battle a terminal disease; and fight not one, not two, but three super-charged bad guys while also continuing to do his standard job of foiling everyday crooks and neighborhood bullies.

With all this going on, you’d think there would be action sequences everywhere, but not so much. Things start out with a goosed-up car chase sequence, and there’s a colorful battle in the film’s middle that takes place in Times Square, but for the most part, director Marc Webb saves the big guns for the film’s grand finale. And while those fireworks are at times impressive — with the movie weighing in at 142 minutes — they take too long to arrive.

So, the story — or the stories. One involves Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) worrying that he’s putting girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in too much danger via his Spidey shenanigans. Since those shenanigans caused the death of her cop father last time around, he’s onto something.

But then Peter also is haunted by the unexplained disappearance of his parents when he was a small boy. What was his dad (Campbell Scott) up to while working as a scientist at the monolithic Oscorp?

Speaking of Oscorp, Peter’s long-gone childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) suddenly returns to New York City to take over the giant corporation when his father (Chris Cooper) dies. Harry and Peter walk around New York for an afternoon and suddenly remember they’re BFFs, so Peter is, of course, saddened to hear Harry’s dying of some genetic defect.

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