You can blame Marvel and Sony for keeping this Spider-Man sequel from being truly amazing. Obsessed with setting up sequels and spin-offs, the story at its core keeps getting buried by throwing in action scenes and introducing new characters.
Like Spider-Man 2 a decade ago, the romance at the center of the film is so good and engaging that the often breathtaking action scenes sometimes pale in comparison. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone"”a couple in real life"”have an unbeatable chemistry that brings all their scenes to life. It's an island of authenticity in an ocean of CGI.
But this is a summer sequel, so not only does it have to be bigger than the original, as has been decreed by Marvel, it must also introduce characters for at least two other films. This is utter nonsense, diluting a good movie with scenes that don't add anything to what we're watching right now. All that other stuff should be saved for the obligatory post-credits scene.
There's a simple but compelling story, with Peter (Andrew Garfield) trying to keep Gwen (Emma Stone) out of harm's way, even if that means ending their relationship. And Electro (Jamie Foxx) at least has some interesting motivations. (Just like The Lizard, he's an ordinary guy driven mad by corporate oppression.) And there's a good dynamic between Peter and the recently returned Harry (Dane DeHaan), but it still needed more. DeHaan is a tremendous young actor, but he can only do so much with a severely underwritten role.
That's part of the paradox of The Amazing Spider-Man 2: it's long at nearly two-and-a-half hours. But it's also feels like an incomplete draft of a story. By the time Harry inevitably shows up as Green Goblin, it's as if he flew in from a separate movie.
To add insult to injury, the movie doesn't end when it should. There's a great, devastating ending "”that will come as a shock only if you've never read the comics"”that would have ended the movie on a down note. It would have been a gut-punch, but one of the many things The Dark Knight proved is audiences can accept a movie that ends with a bummer. But The Amazing Spider-Man 2 adds this 15 minute epilogue to cap everything with a slow-motion action shot.
At once overstuffed and half-baked, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hampers its blend of spectacular action and tender romance by being forcefully shaped into a sequel delivery service. Its well done elements are nearly ruined by adding too many studio-dictated ingredients.