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‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′

by Kaori Shoji

Spider-Man returns once again — something other superheroes also have a tendency of doing. Marvel Comics’ entomological superhero, aka Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), is up to his web-spinning ways again in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ — the second in the rebooted “Spider-Man” movie series launched by director Marc Webb.

The film is released in Japan a week earlier than the U.S., which is unusual — and everything about it screams “blockbuster.” It has non-stop, gravity- shattering action, relationships riding the emotional rollercoaster, a look into the back story of what happened to Peter’s parents (one of the focal points in the last “Spider-Man”), and the introduction of new, formidable foes. And all that takes place over a whopping two and a half hours. Every minute pushes the envelope on what constitutes excruciating entertainment.

This time around Peter is much more confident, completely in his element once he dons the Spider-Man suit: flying between skyscrapers to serve and protect, and also to beat the hell out of the baddies that threaten New York. Very convenient for the NYPD — all they have to do is show up later with handcuffs.

When it comes to his lovelife though, Peter falters. He loves Gwen (Emma Stone) but can’t get over the death of her father. As for Gwen, she’s a modern woman with her own agenda and having a superhero for a boyfriend doesn’t really hold much cachet for her. So it’s pretty much an on-off thing — unfortunate for the lovebirds and for the movie, which would have benefited from more quality time between these real-life lovers. When they do embrace, they’re likely to be hurtling though the air at the same time, with Spider-Man’s sticky web threads spewing out in all directions. Not a situation conducive to romantic conversation.

On the other hand, Gwen experiences some competition when it comes to grabbing Peter’s attention and keeping it. Jamie Foxx plays the main villain, who begins as Max, a painfully awkward and emotionally needy designer at Oscorp (where Parker Sr. worked before his mysterious exit). Max is reborn as Electro — an electrical power guzzling, blackout triggering monster, and when he starts feeding off New York’s energy supply, Peter is forced into a face-off. Electro just will not let up, which amounts to a lot of work for Peter and a catastrophic electricity bill for the city.

Then there’s Peter’s childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who hangs around saying sinister things before morphing into the nasty and manipulative Green Goblin.

This second outing does have its faults (including a dizzying pace that makes it hard to savor the film) but it definitely delivers the thrills, suspense and a sheer, undiluted adrenaline charge. No one but a girlfriend could expect more from a superhero.