Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone return for their second outing as Marvel’s web slinging superhero and best gal Gwen Stacy in the hot mess “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Three writers are credited with the screenplay and four with the screen story with the end result being an overly long and disjointed series of moments. There are too many characters, too many subplots, and an overall uncertain tone that ranges from light comedy to tortured romance to social commentary.
An encapsulated look at the scenes with Peter Parker’s parents (Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz) from the previous film gives way to a lengthy scene with them fighting for their lives onboard an airplane. Dr. Parker desperately attempts a computer download which proves inconsequential when it’s later discovered by Peter. Then we have Peter dealing with the exhausting demands of being Spider-Man while facing high school graduation. He’s also haunted by visions of Gwen’s deceased dad and a drawn out must-be-with-you but can’t-be-with-you relationship with Gwen.
A chance lifesaving encounter with an overlooked and downtrodden Oscorp employee named Max (Jamie Foxx) then makes a quantum leap to creating a super villain with a Mark David Chapman-like obsession to destroy Spider-Man. As if that’s not more than enough, we further get a terminal illness also turning Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) against Spidey, a nefarious Oscorp employee (Colm Feore) with a secret sanatorium and Paul Giamatti thrown in as a bald Russian baddie. It all leads to a pointless and anti-climactic battle very late in the film.
The equally scattershot musical score of techno-pop instrumentals, pop music vocals, and standard movie music glaringly stands out rather than underscores and hampers rather than assists the action. And then there is the stinger that comes shortly into the end credits. It's a shameless plug for the upcoming X-Men movie that has nothing to do with this film.
The sequel’s only positive aspect lies in the performances. Garfield’s angst-ridden kid turned citizen savior is complex and nuanced without ever being self-pitying. And he has earnest though tragic warmth and charm in his scenes with the adorable and energetic Stone. The remainder of the large cast all do great work with the material they’re given. The movie’s simply not worthy of their efforts.