THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (PG13)
Now showing/142 minutes/** 1/2
The story: Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is enjoying his job as a crimefighter. Haunted by the fear of harm coming to girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), he breaks up with her. Meek Oscorp employee Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) suffers an accident at work that gives him the power to control electricity.
There is lot of hugging and crying in this follow-up to the 2012 reboot of the franchise. Much of the waterworks occurs in the course of Parker (Garfield) making tough choices - giving up his love Stacy (Stone) to protect her and coming to terms with the loss of his parents.
The maudlin moments of overwrought emotion feel poorly integrated with the action sequences, which, as in all sequels, are longer and louder.
Director Marc Webb leans heavily on the use of shakey cameras during those moments, but makes up for it with his great awareness of action pacing and object placement. You always know where things are located spatially.
He is fond of whipping the camera around a scene, pointing out things people should be paying attention to, but thankfully, he saves that kind of intrusiveness for the showdowns between hero and villain.
The opening action setpiece, in which the audience is introduced to future bad guy The Rhino (gangster Aleksei Sytsevich, played by Paul Giamatti), is almost perfectly crafted.
But as with all blockbusters, by the time the final boss battle rolls around and overstays its welcome, audience exhaustion has set in.
Garfield and Stone continue to have wonderful personal chemistry together; one serio-comic scene of soul-searching just before the Times Square standoff between Spider-Man and Foxx's Electro features a particularly lively, interesting exchange between the two.
Their dynamic, and that between Garfield and Sally Field, playing his guardian Aunt May, is, no pun intended, electric. It is too bad that too much of it presses the sadness button too hard, for too long.