Spider-Man returns to swing and deal with angst in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the latest Marvel summer blockbuster.  This reboot of the Spider-Man franchise adds more villains and more drama but isn't all that satisfying.
It's high school graduation for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and the course of their love never could run smooth.  Peter is in love with her but is afraid her being around him could get her hurt (reinforced by his imagining her dead father -- to whom Peter promised he'd stay away from Gwen -- staring at him), while Gwen is considering a scholarship to Oxford, taking her far away from Peter.  And there's still the mystery of why Peter's parents Richard and May Parker (Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidzt) vanished, and what Aunt May (Sally Field) is doing to keep Peter provided for.

But superheroes need super villains, and ASM2 introduces two (technically three, but the last one is barely in the movie).  Max Dillon (Jaime Foxx) is a mousy, angry nerd who idolizes Spider-Man.  When an accident gives him electrical powers, he becomes Electro -- and his hero worship turns to hatred when he feels like Spider-Man is stealing all of his attention.  Meanwhile, Peter's old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) has just returned, inherited Oscorp, and found out that he's dying of the same degenerative disease that killed his father.  And Harry thinks the cure lies in Spider-Man's blood.

While ASM2 has more interesting villains than its predecessor, it also has some of the same annoyances.  The action often relies on a combination of slow-motion and freeze-frame shots, which is meant to show speed but gets distracting at times.  While Stone is spirited as the smart, spirited love interest with a mind of her own, Garfield always seemed more like a sullen cool kid than the nerd Peter Parker was supposed to be.  Jamie Foxx is fun as the uber-fan of Spidey, but most of that vanishes under a deeper voice and glowing blue makeup.  And Dane DeHaan is fine as Harry, though his villainous transformation happens so late in the movie it's almost unnecessary.  (The final villain could have been left out entirely.)  And the conspiracies seem to exist solely to keep churning out sequels.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has some exciting sequences, but the same problems as the last time (not to mention some glaring absences of subtlety) make it a movie that can be entertaining and then forgotten almost immediately.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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