DVD Release Date: August 19, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: May 2, 2014
Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi action/violene)
Genre: Action/Superhero
Run Time: 142 min.
Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Embeth Davidtz, Campbell Scott, B.J. Novak, Chris Cooper

Considering that Tobey Maguire had donned the iconic Spidey suit for the third time a mere five years before The Amazing Spider-Man hit theaters in 2012, the rebooted origin story had a definite been-there-seen-that vibe. Nowhere close to the "amazing" promised in the title, the film wasn't a total flop, thanks to a talented cast including Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Emma Stone (The Help) and Rhys Ifans.

With the obligatory set-up out of the way, director Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) must've decided to really swing for the fences because The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is light years ahead of its predecessor. It's not only a fantastic Spider-Man flick, but one of the best superhero offerings in recent memory, boasting spectacular special effects (every scene is more eye-popping than the last) with no sacrifice of quality storytelling.

It really helps that Garfield is such a terrific actor. Anyone who saw the young actor hold his own with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in a Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman couldn't help but marvel. No doubt, roles like Salesman and The Social Network have more prestige than playing a superhero, but it's still quite a feat when a 30-year-old plays a recent high school graduate so convincingly.

Garfield's Peter Parker is the perfect mix of gawky and self-assured, conflicted and committed to the cause of helping people. His performance truly anchors the movie. And thanks to easy chemistry with his real-life love Emma Stone, who plays onscreen girlfriend Gwen Stacy, we see that being Spider-Man comes at a high price for Peter personally. When you've chosen to protect your fellow man from danger but hope for a rewarding life outside of work, it's a lot to juggle, and that struggle is a recurring theme.

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While Spider-Man's most challenging conflict has always been with himself as he balances life as a civilian and superhero, there's a new set of stakes that help set The Amazing Spider-Man 2 apart. For one, he learns what really happened with the parents who abandoned him all those years before. He also reconnects with his old friend Harry (Dane DeHaan (Chronicle), a dead ringer for a young Leonardo DiCaprio). Like Peter, Harry knows what it's like to lose his father, and hopes that his friend can help save him from a disturbing fate.