Perhaps it’s time to give Spidey a breather

April 27, 2014

When it was revealed that Spider-Man was headed to the reboot factory after only a decade since the previous reboot (and a mere four years since the last trilogy ended), “unnecessary” was the word that immediately sprung to mind.

The 2004 film, after all, was a labor of love from an accomplished filmmaker and pretty much covered all that needed to be said about the origin (spider gets radio-activated, boy gets bitten by it, much web-slinging ensues). The latest version was a serviceable summertime seat-filler, but aside from a more hipster-friendly dialogue and updated fashion trends, there was literally zip that made it feel like more than a campaign from Sony to cash in on its most prized franchise.

With the inevitable sequel, it provided director Marc Webb a chance to swing into other directions with our hero, setting it apart from the earlier versions. This was not to be the case with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” an under-written, overwrought slice of prepackaged spectacle that does not create one beat that we couldn’t familiarly tap along with. It also suffers from “Spider-Man 3’s” overstuffed villain syndrome that provides more false "endings" than a "Lord of the Rings" flick.

We join Peter Parker (played by Andrew Garfield) loving his Spider-Man duties but witness the effect it has on his relationship with gal-pal Gwen Stacey (played by Emma Stone). When his home city of New York begins to question his necessity, he plunges head-first into Spidey mode, putting him at odds with all around him personally. Old buddy Harry Osborn (played by Dean DeHaan) pops back into Peter's life to show support, but that's interrupted by the emergence of the latest villainous challenge, Electro (played by Jamie Foxx).

You can enter the rest of this film blindfolded and predict the results. Worse still, it's filled to thee brim with rather pedestrian CGI-enhanced battle sequences that look more at home on an X-Box screen than a fully realized motion picture.

Garfield is perfectly likeable in a handsomely gawky kind of way, and his delivery seems at home with this more cartoonish appproach to the super hero film canon. Stone is equally feather-light and frothily forgettable as Gwen.

Faring far worse is Foxx, who never gets a grip on his character, reducing him to a series of nerdish, nervous tics found only in the movies.

It helps none that when he emerges as Electro, his character design is as threatening as Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze in the cinematic boil known as "Batman & Robin." DeHaan also suffers, as he's about as threatening as a Care Bear, so when he makes the transformation to full-on bad guy, it's more laughable than threatening.

Add to all this the stench of familiarity that plagued the first flick and you have just another bloated "spectacle" that we feel obliged to see rather than want to. There is little left that qualifies its "Amazing" moniker and perhaps it's time to give Spidey a breather to let him (and Sony) invest their wealth more wisely.