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Review: It's easy to get caught in emotional web 'Spider-Man' weaves

Fans shouldn’t be surprised when opinions of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 vary widely from fantastic to meh when it opens Friday (May 2).

Jamie Foxx stars as Max Dillon, the man who will become Electro, one of Spider-Man's (Andrew Garfield) deadliest enemies.
Used with permission of Columbia Studios

It can be messy. It features three villains from the Spidey Marvel Universe – more if you count the corporate weasels in suits. Those villains: Electro (Jamie Foxx), the Green Goblin/Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and the Rhino (Paul Giamatti) generally make for a rollicking good time at this particularly movie.

Director Marc Webb gives just enough of each without completely torpedoing the plot and turning it into one of Joel Schumacher’s stabs at bringing Batman to the screen.

It can be noisy and overwhelming in that regard, reminiscent of hitting a Metallica concert, but for those who are game, it’s worth seeing in the theater.

Webb, as he did with the first film in his Spidey series, balances the film’s dubious elements with its best. In this case, it's those overwhelming aspects, which in some respects possess a huge “wow” factor, with the movie’s emotional elements, which elicit several raw moments.

Webb and writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci (that duo brought us the Star Trek reimagining) and Jeff Pinker know Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield). They know his interactions with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and his Aunt May (Sally Field).

Parker’s suffering from deep, relentless guilt over ignoring Gwen’s dead father’s request that he stay away from his daughter after the events of TASM. He longs to find out what possessed his parents, who are assumed dead, to leave him with his aunt and uncle as a young boy.

And he’s at conflict with himself over the role he should assume as Spider-Man in New York City. Those elements work well in TASM2 courtesy of splendid work from Garfield. But this is a superhero movie, correct?

Those moments don’t work quite as well, despite the best efforts for the actors playing the baddies. Foxx has the most fun as Electro. DeHaan, whose character suffers from as much angst as Garfield’s Parker, primarily because he’s dealing with the prospect of a premature death and Giamatti’s screen time is limited.

He’s about as limited as the story that Webb and the scriptwriters try to tell. It’s not difficult to see them working, but there’s not much surety in where they are going with TASM2. In short: they’re not giving up secrets very easily. Fans can only hope that all is revealed in the third film in the series.

Webb was a novice at big budget, effects flicks when selected to direct the first Spidey movie. That’s no longer the case and it shows on the screen with some jaw-dropping special effects. He just needed a little more plot to go with them.

Movie: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti
Studio: Columbia
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence.
Running time: 142 minutes
George’s rating: 3.5-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com