* review

In Marc Webb's sequel, the villains steal the show, while the lame love story between Peter and Gwen disappoints.

Andrew Garfield, left, and Emma Stone in a scene from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Courtesy Marvel Enterprises
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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Director: Marc Webb

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan, Felicity Jones

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Marc Webb may have the perfect surname to direct The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but there's something rather threadbare about the sequel to his 2012 reboot. Perhaps it's that Sam Raimi's recent trilogy still feels freshly minted. Or that Andrew Garfield is no more worthy a web-slinger than Tobey Maguire. Or even that with the arrival of Harry Osborn – the rich kid friend to Spidey's alter-ego Peter Parker – the story feels like a Raimi rerun. At least Webb had the good sense to cast Sally Field as Peter's aunt.

Here, the villains steal the show: Jamie Foxx is electric as Electro, a geeky Spider-fan who works in the bowels of conglomerate Oscorp and gets the shock of his life when he falls into a vat of hungry eels. Paul Giamatti is also wonderful as the tattooed man-mountain The Rhino, despite being little more than a glorified cameo. And best of all, the rising star Dane DeHaan as Harry, who takes over Oscorp from his ailing father, only to find himself at odds with Garfield’s spandex-sporting superhero.

While this trio of nasties interchange neatly, what disappoints is the rather lame love story between Peter and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), as she deliberates about uprooting to study in England and he mopes around after her.

Reputedly, producers cut scenes of Shailene Woodley as Peter’s other big love, Mary Jane, for fear of too much plot, but maybe a triangle was what this needed. Yes, there’s romance, but the emotions feel about as real as Manhattan’s digitally rendered skyline.