The summer movie season is officially here, and with comic book films leading the charge, we start it off with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which leaves us hanging as to whether we can accept the new version of the title hero.
But that’s not always a bad thing.
If you go...
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” rated PG-13
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
Running time: 142 minutes
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan.
Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and Craig’s West Theatre.
Even a superhero can have a day that’s not so super.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) may be able to perform incredible feats as his costumed alter ego, Spider-Man, but maintaining a good relationship with girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is far more of a challenge, with the reminder of her late father (Denis Leary) always hanging over Peter’s head.
The resulting breakup is the least of his concerns when some new people enter his life.
The first is an old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), heir apparent to the scientific company OsCorp, who’s seeking a way to overcome the hereditary disease that may claim his life. The second is OsCorp employee Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), who, thanks to a deadly electrical accident, has been imbued with an uncontrollable amount of power, leaving Spidey to harness his current.
All the while, Peter’s ongoing search for the truth about his deceased parents (Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz) may have more to do with his latest predicament than he realizes.
Garfield’s got a pretty good handle on the duality of the wall-crawler by now, capturing the immaturity that’s still present in Peter Parker and the seriousness that comes once he puts on the mask, though there are plenty of jokes to be had with either identity.
Stone also continues to be a welcome addition as the main squeeze of Spider-Man, contemplating taking her studies abroad even though she loves Peter dearly inside or outside his costume. It’s got to be a blow to the male ego even for a guy with super-strength that your girlfriend’s much smarter than you.
As the other woman in his life, Sally Field is a feistier Aunt May than we’ve ever seen, concerned that her nephew’s becoming too obsessed with his past and little realizing what she should be worried about instead.
If you wonder how Steve Urkel might have appeared as an adult, look no further than Foxx’s nerdy nobody, stricken with a bad case of hero worship — on top of apparent schizophrenia — after a brief encounter with the webslinger that doesn’t last long once he gains his own unique abilities.
Shocking ones, you might say …
You knew that bad pun was coming with the villain known as Electro, shown here without the tacky lightning bolt outfit and instead looking more like Dr. Manhattan of “Watchmen” fame, with a voice that’s full of crackling reverb.
We all have our demons, but few are so unhinged as throwaway son Harry Osborn, who can’t measure up no matter how he tries. DeHaan is excellent in a role in which James Franco never felt quite right, making Harry more malicious amid his desperation, as you’d expect from someone with scads of money who doesn’t want to end up like dear old Dad, with a quickly glimpsed Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper) looking like Howard Hughes toward the end.
And there’s no missing a glint of green on the old man’s skin.
The Spider-Man mythos gets a noticeable tweak in this latest adventure of the Marvel Comics favorite, which may have fans quoting either creator Stan Lee’s famed “Excelsior!” in support or echoing nay-saying Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson’s email response to Peter’s snapshots of himself incognito to make a few freelance bucks.
In a word: WRONG!
It’s not one or the other here, because there are pros and cons.
The effects are top-notch as always, but the story is shaky as a whole and for whatever reason, the bad guys of the Garfield Spider-Man make less of an impact than they did when Tobey Maguire was wearing the red and blue.
Some inescapable ties to another series featuring this color scheme don’t help, either, though we are seeing Spidey move in a different direction, which is encouraging.
What really makes this better than it might have been is the movie's portrayal of the spirit of the hero at the center of it. Peter Parker’s world is one that’s so relatable because of his minor problems, not the big ones, and those small snippets with him and the people he loves are what make all the difference.
Anyone with spider-strength can lift a car over their head. It takes a real man to spin a love message on the Brooklyn Bridge.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” may be polarizing in some ways, but it’s also an indicator of better stuff to come. What’s more, you can’t walk out of this movie without a healthy appreciation for everyday heroes, and isn’t that the most super thing we can get in return for the price of admission?
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @TheBocksOffice.