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Director: Mark Webb
Writers: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner and James Vanderbilt
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan, Jamie Foxx, Sally Field and Paul Giamatti
Studio: Columbia/SONY

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ was better than the first movie. That’s where the good times end. The same giant issues with tone and the desperate need to always present a threat runs like a shit brown streak in Spidey’s red and blue bodysuit. While Marvel has managed to do the impossible by creating a real comic book movie universe, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” falls into the same traps as “Man of Steel”. You have a giant and easily recognizable cultural and comic book icon, but there are so many creative cooks trying to for a unique stamp on him. Ultimately, he just becomes an action figure where every kid has jotted their initials on his feet.

Marvel needs to find a way to cut a deal with SONY to bring the web head back into the fold. Standing alone, we find a Spider-Man that plays like the DC cinematic heroes of the late 70s through the 90s. A hodgepodge of dialed down personalities and characters that appeal to the direct middle of the audience and offer nothing in serious value. Actors take a paycheck, put on a few appliances and then grimace and act impressive for the cameras. Character is gone by the end of the picture, as the studio is racing for a film that can earn a three day weekend and then die on the vine. This isn’t a film, it’s a checklist to making back a budget.

What does work and works amazingly well is the relationship between Stone’s Gwen Stacy and Garfield’s Peter Parker. It helps that they’re in love in real life, but you feel that chemistry and connection onscreen. When the time comes for Gwen Stacy to embrace her comic book roots, it feels real and it stings as much as when Gerry Conway wrote it. However, it’s coming at the hands of a Green Goblin who begins losing his personality from the moment he shows up onscreen. Chris Cooper was smart for having his name removed from the film. Thankfully for SONY, he wasn’t Mason Verger level vocal about it like Gary Oldman.

While our screening didn’t get the Shazam infused end credits or the UK’s special scene from “Days of Futures Past”; the film did leave me with hope. I see a Rhino that finds support from a character actor who wants to be part of the long haul. I see the effort to build a strong supporting cast that will start to give Peter Parker much needed dimension. Mark Webb is finally starting to play with shots and gets a sense of the fluid nature of web slinging. But, then you hear and see those promo shots for The Sinister Six. Those six quick clips online will stick in your head, as you think about how misbalanced and bland most of the revamp villains have been in the first film and this sequel.

That feeling of unease will continue for most fans, as the film continues its media stride. Casual fans will dig the Electro fight sequences. Hell, they’ll like seeing the Rhino at the end of the movie. But, this is nothing but spectacle bookended by a few scenes of Peter and Gwen caring about each other. It could’ve been a lot better, but the film works on that basic level.

RELEASE DATE: 05/02/2014

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