The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (12A)
TWO is company but three super-villains are a crowd in Marc Webb's action-packed sequel to his 2012 blockbuster, which successfully rebooted the Marvel Comics' franchise.
A Russian mobster in rhinoceros-shaped armour, a maligned Oscorp employee who can shoot electricity from his fingertips and an iconic green-skinned imp with daddy issues all vie for our attention during a rough'n'tumble 142 minutes.
The film's special effects wizards oblige with dazzling sequences of Spider-Man swinging at breathless speed through the skyscrapers of New York.
Such is the dizzying velocity of these set pieces, director Webb repeatedly employs slow-motion to make sense of the blurs of blue and red spandex.
For all the sequel's technical prowess, which is considerable, it's the screen chemistry of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, who met on the first picture and have been dating ever since, which provides more bang than the digitally rendered pyrotechnics.
When the two actors stare into each other's eyes, we can feel the electricity crackle between them.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens with a protracted flashback to the night Richard Parker (Campbell Scott) and his wife Mary (Embeth Davidtz) leave their young son in the care of Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen).
The reason for this sudden disappearance continues to haunt Peter (Garfield).
So too does the ghost of Captain Stacy (Denis Leary), whose daughter Gwen (Stone) is Peter's on-off-on-off girlfriend.
While Peter hones his powers, childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns to the Big Apple to assume control of Oscorp in the wake of the death of his bullying father, Norman (Chris Cooper).
Harry's ascension coincides with an industrial accident that transforms nerdy employee and Spider-Man fanatic, Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), into an electrically charged monster.
Thus Peter must potentially give up his life to protect Gwen and Aunt May from harm.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fleshes out the back story of the Parkers and their involvement in secret experiments.
Peter and Gwen's turbulent romance is the cornerstone and the film soars – rather like the titular hero – whenever they are together.
Foxx's portrayal of the pathetic bad guy with unimaginable power coursing through his veins is more miss than hit. The script doesn't spend enough time with his corporate nerd before the metamorphosis into Electro. Consequently, gear changes between action, romance and comedy are not as smooth as they could be.
Thankfully, DeHaan is terrifically tormented as the heir to the Oscorp empire, who clings forlornly to the hope of a transfusion of Spider-Man's blood to cure his genetic woes.
The sins of two fathers weigh heavily on their sons, laying the foundations for a battle royale between the wily web-slinger and an iconic adversary in a third instalment, earmarked for release in summer 2016.