'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' review: Blockbuster sequel will make your Spidey senses tingle

Rating

4 Stars4/5

Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:37 PM ET

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is truly amazing — but only some of the time.

The beginning is a bit tangled up. The end of the movie is also a web-blocker. That is because director Marc Webb’s blockbuster doesn’t offer an effective set-up for the looming Sinister Six spinoff. Spidey 2 also features a less-than-effective resolution of the matters at hand, including Spider-Man’s big battles with the sequel’s newly-created villains: Electro (Jamie Foxx), Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan).

In between, however, Webb picks up where his 2012 reboot left off. And he does it with more gonzo energy, less restrictions, more fun, lots of comic book sarcasm in Spider-Man’s asides, plenty of murky drama and just the right amount of insanity to keep the web-slinging franchise on-edge. For almost two hours, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is thrilling as it crashes through its action sequences and then humanizes its key characters in the interludes.

In addition, with exponential improvements in digital special effects, our spandex hero now moves with a beautifully balletic precision that was never possible when Sam Raimi created his Spider-Man trilogy from 2002 through 2007. Because of technology, Tobey Maguire’s old-school Spider-Man now looks a deranged drunk in comparison to Andrew Garfield’s elegantly airborne superhero.

In the latest instalment, Peter Parker/Spider-man (Garfield) is reluctant to continue his romance with gorgeous Gwen (Emma Stone). Damned fool — and this ensures Spider-Man is no longer cool — but the spectre of Gwen’s dead daddy (Denis Leary) continues to haunt Peter/Spider-Man. Leary’s scowling face pops up everywhere. This rift sets up the romantic melodrama that is to come throughout the epic, 142-minute running time. Peter and Gwen are almost as romantically complicated as Rhett and Scarlett in Gone With the Wind. Both the engaging Garfield and the charming Stone are wonderful to watch together.

Meanwhile, Peter is more intent on finding out what happened to his parents (information that we get to know, in exhausting detail). Peter cross-examines Aunt May (Sally Field, at her best and reminding us why she won two Oscars). In a parallel universe — because Spidey 2 has excessive plot — we see the rise and possible fall of Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan in a career-making move), the machinations of Oscorp’s mad Menken (Colm Feore) and a subplot involving a crazy man (Paul Giamatti) and the Russian mafia (because Americans need someone foreign to hate). Even more critical here is the transformation of a loveable super-nerd into psychotic Electro.

The Electro part of the movie is absolutely stunning. Geeky Max Dillon (Foxx) is a marvellous character, an electrical engineer who works for Oscorp, feels marginalized, loves Spider-Man and is perfect material for a supernatural makeover when he gets fried. When Foxx is playing Electro — who looks like a homage to the false god in Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis — he is equally effective in transforming a victim into a victimizer through anger. The villainy of Electro is not just a random act, it is a zealous reaction to persecution. Throw in the Josef Mengele/Dr. Strangelove hybrid named Dr. Kafka (Marton Csokas) and you have the makings of social satire.

But, of course, this is a Hollywood comic book superhero movie. So the serious stuff is played with but not really dealt with thoroughly. That is okay, because I did not expect a highbrow, socio-political commentary. What we get instead is a weird and sometimes wonderful ride into the superhero fantasy world. It is enough to make your Spidey senses tingle again.

Twitter: @Bruce_Kirkland

bruce.kirkland@sunmedia.ca


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