Spidey's "greatest adventure"?
Don't believe everything you read on billboards and movie posters.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2"★ ★
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Sally Field, Paul Giamatti, Dane DeHaan
Directed by: Marc Webb
Other: A Columbia Pictures release. Rated PG-13 for violence. 142 minutes
For all of its visual bombast, unrelentingly generic action sequences and overwritten Saturday-morning cartoon dialogue, Marc Webb's chronologically overweight "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" retreads Sam Raimi's arachnid trilogy from a decade ago without adding much new.
Too many villains. So little time for personal life.
This noisy, busy movie begins with what turns out to be a superfluous action sequence showing how Peter Parker's dad and mom (Campbell Scott and Mary Parker) met their aerial demises while trying to escape the corporate clutches of the corrupt Oscorp company.
This paves the way for a second opening action sequence in which teen Peter Parker (again played by Andrew Garfield) dons his Spidey suit to stop a Russian heist of radioactive tubes during a madcap chase through New York.
The sequence gives us a dramatic, immersive Spider-Man POV of what it feels like to be a metropolitan Tarzan, swinging from high-rise to high-rise with athletic abandon.
The segment quickly spirals into trite and distracting "Matrix"-like effects -- bullet-time stop motion, speeded-up and slowed-down footage -- almost as if Webb had just seen "The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" and become inspired by its visual gimmickry before attempting to beat "The Blues Brothers" world record for "the most crashed squad cars in a single chase scene."
Then, Peter's in real trouble.
His crime-stopping good deed causes him to miss his high school graduation ceremony where the lovely Gwen Stacy (reprised by the fetching Emma Stone) delivers a moving speech on making your life count.
Peter still loves Gwen, but the promise he gave her late cop daddy (Denis Leary) to forget about her looms over him like a specter. Literally. Peter sees visions of Gwen's dad, scowling at him with accusatory anger like Banquo's ghost dressed in blue.
The on-again, off-again romance gets shelved for a while after an emotionally needy, nerdy Oscorp electrical engineer named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) falls into a pool of electric eels and becomes "Electro," a blue mass of supercharged circuits with an insatiable appetite for raw power from New York's already overtaxed grid.
Foxx creates a fascinating supervillain who begins as a lonely "invisible" soul desperate for recognition and approval in a corporate world that treats him with cold indifference.
There's almost a King Kong vibe in Foxx's performance in how we understand and sympathize with him even as he devastates New York's Times Square out of rage and frustration. (He does not climb the Empire State Building.)
Had the bloated screenplay for "Amazing Spider-Man 2" (credited to Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner and James Vanderbilt) focused on the Spider-Man/Electro conflict, it might have created some real-world resonance about the dangers of ignoring the powerless and needy.
But the movie barrels along with two more supervillains waiting in the wings: Peter's former school pal and Oscorp heir Harry Osborn (a superbly charismatic Dane DeHaan channeling a youthful Leonardo DiCaprio), and the robotic Rhino (Paul Giamatti's Russian bandit from the second opening sequence), both making late-breaking debuts in the third act.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" remains a boy's domain. Self-sacrificing Aunt Mae (Sally Field) is hardworking support staff for her nephew Peter. Felicity Jones' Felicia becomes little more than Harry's dutiful executive assistant.
Even though Gwen comes on strong with empowered rhetoric ("It's my choice!" she shrieks to Peter. "My choice! Mine!"), there are severe consequences for uppity girls in this movie.
It might be forgivable that Electro's destruction of Times Square (with thousands of people beneath collapsing buildings) produces not a single casualty, or that Rhino blasts off a kajillion rounds of military-grade bullets and never hits a single New York cop or bystander.
But no sneak-peek Marvel tagline at the ending?