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  • Jared Huizenga

Spider-Man not quite as amazing the second time around

When I first heard a few years back that Sony had planned to reboot a movie series that kicked off (and was wildly successful) during my college days, I laughed at the idea.

Sure, “Spider-Man 3” was bad. I mean, like, really, really bad. But had enough time passed since the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire led trilogy ended to really warrant a reboot? Had technology come so far in such a short amount of time that it made sense? Were there enough compelling Spider-Man stories out there?

Upon release of “The Amazing Spider-Man” in 2012, I found the answer to all of those questions to be an emphatic “yes.”

This weekend Spider-Man is back on the big screen for the fifth time in 12 years with the release of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which again pairs director Marc Webb with Andrew Garfield in the titular role.

This time around Peter Parker must figure out how to balance the demands his life as a masked super hero with that of a college student, a doting boyfriend to Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), a fledgling newspaper photographer, a devoted nephew to Aunt May (Sally Field) and a son who’s long been searching for answers as to what happened to his long-lost parents.

He must also deal with Electro (Jamie Foxx) – a former Spidey fan turned arch nemesis by a series of unfortunate events involving water and electricity at Oscorp – and Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) – the heir to vast fortune, medical maladies and Green Goblin alter ego of his father, Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper).

For nearly 2.5 hours, Spidey swings, shoots and mopes (yes, Garfield again brings a touch of “Emo” to the hero) his way through the city, protecting its citizens from evil.

The problem is, it’s not quite as amazing as the first time around. Where the Raimi/Macguire pairing improved from film one to film two, the Webb/Garfield and co. fall short of their initial work. Mind you, there’s nothing horribly wrong with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” – it’s just not as good as its predecessor.

The cast is very good throughout, even those with smaller roles like Field and Cooper. The story moves along at a good pace and takes some known (to hardcore Spider-Man fans), yet semi-unexpected from the traditionally safe and unwilling to not provide a happy ending Hollywood culture and the last few minutes do nicely to set up future sequels and spinoffs.

The main “problem” is the film’s complete reliance on technology. Sure, CGI is fun, but at times it seems to be the sole driving factor moving the story. And the sound – Dolby ATMOS – is often outstanding, but at times a little overwhelming … especially when Electro’s dialogue is mixed with the electronic music of the film’s score/soundtrack. If you thought Bane was hard to understand in the “The Dark Knight Rises,” there will be times you absolutely hate Electro.

While it failed to reach my expectations, I really did enjoy the film. But there’s a lot of story to be told with the character(s) and I hope that moving forward in the series (two announced Spider-Man sequels and Venom and Sinister Six spinoffs), that the cast and crew move to work a little more on that aspect as opposed to constantly relying on technology to do the work.

★★★ of ★★★★★

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