Spidey’s fine, but far less than ‘Amazing’

If there’s a tie that binds most of the characters of the Marvel Universe together, it’s the mutability of the supposedly immutable human body. Characters are poisoned by radiation, zapped by electricity, bitten by spiders or broken, crushed, ruined or whatever.

And as Spider-Man cracks in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” just “shake it off. It’s just your bones, muscles …”

But the real world doesn’t work like that. That’s one reason this comic book world has such a lasting appeal. Bullies are foiled, criminals are caught and great wrongs righted with supernatural intervention by supernaturally augmented humans.

“Amazing 2” is kind of about that. It’s a violent film, with blood and death in between the digitally animated brawls. Human bodies are tortured and broken, and there’s not always a web slinger there to stop that flipping police car, that hurtling bus, that Russian psychopath or that jet that’s about to crash.

It’s not an altogether pleasant experience. Things tend to drag as director Marc Webb has problems with focus, keeping the many story threads straight and continuity (watch Gwen Stacy’s outfits). Many otherwise faceless extras pop off the screen as if he’s about to give their nameless characters the same significance as Stan Lee himself, who always has cameos in these Marvels.

But Andrew Garfield finds his voice as the character, making his second try at Peter Parker a caffeinated wise-cracker, enjoying his notoriety, talking to himself just like the guy in the comic book. He’s funny.

Clueless Aunt May (Sally Field) wonders why he has soot all over his face.

“I was … cleaning the chimney!”

“We HAVE no chimney!”

Peter hums Spider-Man’s theme song and hurls himself into situations with a teen’s recklessness. He almost misses his and Gwen’s (Emma Stone) high school graduation, dealing with a villain named Aleksei (Paul Giamatti).

But even though he doesn’t carry the angst of Tobey Maguire’s Spidey, Peter has problems. He sees Gwen’s late dad (Denis Leary) everywhere he looks, and remembers his promise to the dead cop to distance himself from his daughter, because of the danger.

Peter hasn’t seen the opening scene in the movie, in which we flash back to Peter’s parents’ (Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz) grisly deaths. And Peter has no idea that his great chemistry with long lost rich-kid pal Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) will go nowhere, because some of us remember 2002’s “Spider-Man” and how Harry turns out.

Jamie Foxx is an ignored, humiliated electrical engineer who has an accident involving electric eels and power lines. That transforms him from a Spider-Man fanboy into a glowing blue guy in a hoodie. In the ethos of this movie, Peter/Spidey reasons with the tormented villains, trying to connect with the doomed rich kid (Osborn) or this “nobody” engineer.

“You’re not a nobody, you’re SOMEbody!”

Except for Giamatti’s Russian. He’s just … bad.

Returning director Webb relies, again, on the 3-D (and IMAX, in some theaters) flying effects to cover the rough patches — and there are many — in “Amazing 2.” While Garfield and Stone have a nice sass to their scenes, Webb can do nothing to give this relationship the longing and heat of the Kirsten Dunst/Tobey Maguire moments from the earlier films.

And Webb’s team of screenwriters don’t find any pathos in all this computer-animated flying and fighting, not until the finale.

So while this “Spider-Man” is, if anything, more competent than the first film, it’s still not one that demands that you stick around after the credits. There’s nothing there.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2 ½ stars)

The Spidey reboot is back for a sequel that’s better than the first, thanks to Andrew Garfield’s wise-cracking Peter Parker, but director Marc Webb (seriously?) has difficulty keeping his plot threads untangled.

Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence

Opening: Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Pacific Place, Sundance Cinemas Seattle, Wodinville, Blue Fox Drive-In, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor Plaza.

More in Life

New documentary chronicles Obama’s last year in White House

“The Final Year” doesn’t paint the administration in rosy colors, but it isn’t too critical either.

‘Forever My Girl’ takes a page from the Nicholas Sparks genre

The film based on a novel by Heidi McLaughlin is a well-worn tale of lost love and redemption.

Curries continues home-cooked Indian cuisine at new location

The restaurant, now located on Evergreen Way, also puts an Indian spin on Northwest cooking.

International guitar tour led by Lulo Reinhardt stops in Edmonds

International Guitar Night, now in its 18th year, is Jan. 24 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

New Cascadia Art Museum exhibit showcases mid-century designs

The exhibition includes ceramics, furniture, clothing, sculpture and jewelry from 1948 to 1966.

This beefy ex-cop has a delicate hobby: intricate paper-cut art

You can see Tom Sacco’s creations at the upcoming Everett Art Walk.

Slow-roasted vegetables make sumptuous sauce for pasta

Make the basic but good spaghetti with red sauce blissfully better with this recipe.

Mocking meatloaf: One man’s loaf is another man’s poison

Some don’t like it and some do. Here are six meatloaf recipes to try.

Roasted Brussels sprouts can be the apple of picky eater’s eye

Toasted sesame seeds and diced apple add flavors that compliment the sprouts’ earthiness.

Most Read