It wasn’t until his third film that director Sam Raimi sent the Spider-Man series off the deep end.  Not to be outdone, director Marc Webb
does it in two.

While Raimi’s second film elevated the series by delivering one of the finest comic book superhero films, The Amazing Spider-Man 2
plummets to the bottom of the barrel.

This is an incredibly silly film that bludgeons its audience with bad jokes, nonsensical characterizations and an unintentionally funny
overreliance on slow motion computer-generated action sequences.

There was a vocal group of fans that was concerned when it was announced the film would include three major franchise villains.  Despite
Webb’s assurances, their worries were most definitely warranted.  All are poorly developed, and two are a complete joke.

Leading the way is Jamie Foxx as Max, aka Electro, a social outcast working for Oscorp.  After Spider-Man saves Max, he becomes
obsessed with the web crawler, and imagines himself as a close friend.  He talks to Spider-Man in his mirror, imagines them celebrating his
birthday and other delusions.

I believe this is supposed to be humorous, but it’s not especially funny, and Jamie Foxx appears to be as confused as the rest of us with his
awkward performance.

After Max is electrocuted and falls into a tank of eels (I hate when that happens), he gains the powers of electricity and translucent blue
skin.

While wreaking havoc in Times Square, Electro becomes incensed that Spider-Man doesn’t recognize his biggest fan.  And that becomes
the motivation for his hatred.

I understand the man has serious mental issues, but that seems like a very weak basis for a villain.

Harry Osborn fares slightly better as the heir to Oscorp and Peter Parker’s childhood friend.  At least we can understand that his terminal
illness has made him desperate for Spider-Man’s blood, which he believes can cure him.

Still, the whole deal with Spidey blood is a bit baffling as well.  Why is Peter so hesitant in giving his (all of a sudden) best friend a vial of
blood?  And after Peter discovers that, conveniently, only his bloodline is compatible with the super spider venom stuff anyway, it makes
the confrontation even more baffling.

Peter discovers that last bit after uncovering a video from his late father, formerly a researcher at Oscorp.

The opening scenes of the film show his parents fleeing in fear of Oscorp and leaving Peter to live with his aunt and uncle.  Wasn’t this
already covered in the last movie?  The sequence, which culminates in an action sequence aboard a jet, adds nothing to the film and
reveals absolutely nothing of importance.  In a film that shortchanges every character through its own excess, that’s simply unforgivable.

Oh, and speaking of Spider-Man, he’s actually in this movie too, though there is so much mind-numbing stuff with the villains, it’s easy to
forget.

That’s a shame, because, once again, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are very good as Parker and his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy.  Their funny
chemistry is the only thing keeping Amazing Spider-Man 2 from being a wholly unbearable film.

There are some really nice moments between them from both a comedic and dramatic sense, and it’s hard not to wish the film didn’t invest
more in them.

Stone is supremely likable as Stacy, and Peter’s guilt at the danger he puts her in by having a relationship with her is endearing.

There are also a couple strong dramatic scenes between Garfield and Sally Field (Who reprises her role as Aunt May).

Just about every other thread is terribly uninteresting, and our main characters are suffocated in their own film as a result.

Even a series-altering development regarding their relationship is shortchanged as the film draws to its merciful conclusion.  Webb
chooses instead to focus on setting up the next film (?) with an embarrassing scene involving a bald, tattooed Paul Giamatti with an ultra-
cheesy Russian accent.

I also have to note that this scene makes no sense editorially, as a crowd of onlookers is watching a police shootout from the sidewalk.  
Apparently CG bullets don’t frighten people like they used to.

Then again, when Sony Imageworks is doing the CG, I guess it’s hard to take it too seriously.  Spider-Man himself continues to look like a
cartoon, and Webb’s reliance on slow-mo only exacerbates the situation.

This sequel might also feature the biggest drop-off in score quality in history.  You all probably know I’m no fan of Hans Zimmer, but his work
in assembling a team of pop musicians to supplement his forgettable score is a catastrophe.  What we get is a jumble of different musical
styles with little coherence, many of which actively distract from the action onscreen.  To think this was chosen to replace composer James
Horner’s outstanding work from the previous film is, quite frankly, offensive.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a tiresome affair that is only saved from absolute misery by Garfield and Stone.  Unfortunately, their characters
are buried beneath a film that is overloaded with silly villains, mindless plot devices and unimpressive action.  These characters deserved
better after the triumphs of the 2012 reboot.

It gives me a new sense of appreciation for Spider-Man 3.  And that’s not a good thing.

* ½
(out of four)
THE AMAZING
SPIDER-MAN 2

Directed by: Marc Webb

Written by: Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Jeff Pinkner

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx,
Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti

Music by: Hans Zimmer

Cinematography by: Dan Mindel

Released: May 2, 2014; 142 Minutes