“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is the fifth Spider-Man movie in 12 years and the second in the current version of the franchise, and it often feels like a reboot of a reboot — as if the current franchise is stuck in a sort of “Groundhog Day” of superhero movies, in which they keep making the same one over and over, and each time get just a little further away from the goal.
In other words, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” doesn’t quite measure up to Sam Raimi’s 2004 “Spider-Man 2” (which was great fun, and one of my favorite superhero movies of the current millennium). Nonetheless, it’s still pretty enjoyable, almost entirely due to the enchanting chemistry between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy.
Garfield, though now 30, has an uncanny way of turning himself into a gangly teenager; his Peter has a shambling walk and a mumbly voice that perpetually seems to be climbing a hill and down again. Stone, always a charmer — she’s got one of the best giggles in the business — seems to bring out a sweetness in him, and the two of them are a treat together, even (maybe especially) when they’re arguing. Based on the evidence here, particularly a delightfully slapsticky sequence mid-film that ends with Garfield literally kicking up his heels, I don’t know why these two aren’t signed for a rom-com. I’d watch it, quite possibly repeatedly.
Elsewhere, we return to the Norman Osborn (an oddly uncredited Chris Cooper)/Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) subplot, complete with the not-previously-seen villain Electro (Jamie Foxx), and it all feels pretty much like what we’ve seen before: dark corporate doings, a city endangered, cars flying through the air to be effortlessly caught by Spidey.
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The 3D effects are impressive — as always, the sight of Spider-Man soaring above the Manhattan streets is pure popcorn fun — and the performers give it their all, particularly Sally Field as gentle Aunt May and Foxx in his early scenes (before he’s rendered nearly unrecognizable) as Max Dillon. But the filmmakers haven’t found a way to make this installment feel new. You root for the kids, but “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” seems to lack purpose — and, for that matter, amazingness.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org