THE REEL: Spidey swings and misses in new sequel

THE REEL with Ben Conniff

By: Ben Conniff

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” has several individual pieces that work well on their own but never quite congeal into anything special.

It’s no “Spider-Man 3,” but “amazing” this ain’t. There’s simply too much going on for the film to gain its focus.

For starters, things pick up right where “The Amazing Spider-Man” left off.

As he balances his duties as Spider-Man with his commitments to girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has established himself as New York City’s greatest defender.

Yet the attention of the public, the love of his girl and the satisfaction of cleaning up the streets isn’t enough for Peter. He’s still riddling the mystery of his parents’ disappearance, with which he makes a couple of exciting breakthroughs.

Meanwhile, other demons start creeping up in Peter’s life, such as the return of Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and the memory of Captain Stacy (Denis Leary); the latter of which puts tension on Peter’s relationship with Gwen.

The one-on-one moments between Peter and Gwen provide ample time for the lead actors to showcase their stellar chemistry. With director Marc Webb’s keen eye for romantic comedy (he also directed “500 Days of Summer”) these scenes make for some of the film’s most engaging moments.

I’d take Garfield and Stone over Tobey Maguire and Kristen Dunst any day.

If there weren’t enough plotlines to follow at this point, three supervillains enter the fold.

Two of them have their origins explored while the third, Rhino, sets up the next sequel.

The shy scientist Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) specializes in electrical engineering for Oscorp and suffers a near-fatal accident which turns him into the villain Electro.

I had heard beforehand that Electro’s vendetta against Spider-Man was half-assed, as if he simply woke up one day and decided to squash the spider. I’m glad to say that isn’t the case. His reasons for pursuing Spidey make sense.

I just wish the musical score from Hans Zimmer and his “Magnificent Six” (among them Pharrell Williams) didn’t feature vocals that awkwardly mimic the dialogue between the characters on their first encounter in Times Square (“He lied to me”/”That Spider-Man”/”He is my enemy!”).

No kidding, Sherlock.

For me, this detracted from the visceral impact of the big Times Square-off, despite the scene looking dazzling in terms of visual effects.

As for Harry Osborn, his psychosis is much more fleshed out here than it was in Sam Raimi’s original trilogy. We understand exactly what Harry’s emotional state is, why he feels that way, and why he also harbors a grudge against Spider-Man.

As he showed in “Chronicle,” DeHaan is an actor who’s capable of making that “young villain from a dark place” thing convincing.

The look of his Green Goblin is also way more terrifying than Willem Dafoe’s Power Ranger suit in the original “Spider-Man.”

 “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is like Thanksgiving dinner – marginally satisfying, even if its plate is a bit overstuffed.