A sometimes less than amazing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 takes up Peter Parker's story where the most amazing The Amazing Spider-Man left off. Our favorite web-spinner graduates from college, his romance with the effervescent Gwen Stacy ratchets up a notch and a dangerous new villain -- Electro -- emerges.
Peter Parker and the lovely miss Stacy cannot get it figured out. Feeling guilty over the death of her police chief dad in the first movie, Parker can't forget that he promised him to leave Gwen out of his life. But love is love. It drives everything. So they play "yes, I do, but no I don't" young love games for a chunk of the movie.
Director Marc Webb -- who did the first movie -- also directed 2009's best love story (500) Days of Summer. He's a master at the subtleties of love and romance and brilliantly executes the romantic sections from the script by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner.
It doesn't hurt that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have excellent chemistry and are skilled, natural actors. Their give and take and superb dialogue turn The Amazing Spider-Man 2 into a terrific love story. It's deep and three-dimensional, and quite unusual for a flick based on a Marvel comic book character.
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While the love story is practically pitch perfect, Spider-Man is not just a romantic 20-something looking for love in all the right but wrong places. He's an action icon, a comic book hero. Danger in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 lurks in all the right places.
Jamie Foxx plays Max Dillon, a nice guy, loner scientist working for Oscorp. Spider-Man saves his life early in the movie, and he's a big fan. When Max accidentally gets super-charged by an electrical malfunction, he becomes energy sucker Electro.
Spidey tries to connect with the guy, but their relationship short circuits.
Parker also reconnects with his old friend Harry Osborne, who now runs Oscorp. That involvement connects to Electro and leads to big danger for Spider-Man, Gwen and humanity.
This is where the less than amazing opening comment becomes relevant. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has two villains, a long and involved love story, Peter trying to sort out why he was abandoned by his parents, guilt over this and that, Harry's hassles and so on.
Yes, the love story is critical to the life of Spider-Man. So are villains and how they threaten his loved ones. But in the history of Spider-Man, these threads are pushed over dozens of issues of the comic.
Unfortunately, Webb and his writers cram it all into one movie.
At 142-minutes, there is just too much of everything. Huge chunks of the movie and additional and unneeded plot lines are little more than fluff and filler. They add 30-unnecessary minutes to a long movie.
Remove the fluff and the scattershot parts of the plot, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is good. What makes this a must-see is Webb's use of effects, stunt artists and exceptional sets. Webb has you believing the web-spinner is really doing his thing. Shots of Spider-Man flying between buildings and doing death-defying dives while shooting out sticky lines of web are incredible. You believe it's all real and possible.
And that makes the not so amazing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 -- ironically -- most amazing.
Director: Marc Webb
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidz, Stan Lee
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, some violence. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.
-- Is Mr. Movie most amazing? Let him know yes or no at www.tri-cityherald.com/arts/mrmovie.