Director Marc Webb, Andrew Garfield and the wonderfully erudite Emma Stone return to the world of web slinger Peter Parker in in the follow up to The Amazing Spiderman (2012).

The first movie was what many people deemed an unnecessary reboot of a franchise that had already fallen someway short with what would subsequently be the final part of director Sam Raimi's input into the mythos with the flawed but enjoyable Spiderman 3 (2007). If Raimi managed to do anything in those pictures it was to mould the directorial style which he had used to great success on the horror movies he had worked on like The Evil Dead (1981). This was particularly prevalent in his second entry into the series as shards of glass were hurled at innocent bystanders as Spiderman looked on. The man behind the new franchise invokes the same methodology here in terms of the fact he brings his filmic history to bare again by invoking the spirit of his indie romantic comedy 500 Days of Summer (2009) and projecting his love of intimacy and relationships onto what is a distinctly comic book narrative. This feature of his work here represents the movie's greatest moments and also adds gravitas to the overcrowded bombast at play during its runtime.

Starting off at an indeterminate period of time after the first movie, here we find Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker conflicted about his role of Spiderman, his relationship with the love of his life Gwen Stacy, and the death of his parents. Joining the cast are Jamie Foxx's Max Dillon and Dane DeHaan (superb in Josh Trank's Chronicle) as Harry Osborn. These two men will come to be the foes of Spiderman and also point toward the fork in the road for any analysis of the movie. Because the story is overcrowded with villains it means that the narrative is somewhat disjointed. The villains of the piece almost feel shoehorned in and catastrophically underdeveloped. In most comic book movies this flaw would result in a wretched movie bereft of a central narrative structure. The Dark Knight (2008) and its thematic concerns were defined by the Jack in the box anarchy of Heath Ledger's superb portrayal of the Joker.

His placement in the story is central to the story arcs of each main protagonist despite the fact that he is only intermittently on screen. In The Amazing Spiderman 2 the same thematic device is used but instead of coming from the antagonist it actually comes from the thoughts and ideas of one of the central characters in Gwen Stacy and the speech she makes on her graduation day. She informs the audience that we "have to rise above the things we suffer" and it is a prevalent part of the story that only her lover and our hero Spiderman are able to do rise above themselves as the antagonists fall victim to their own past desires and agonies. I felt the narrative scope of the movie was defined by the female character to be a truly inspiring part of the design of the whole movie. This idea is reinforced by again by the beautiful monologue from Emma Stone's character at the start of the picture, a speech whose prevalence only becomes clear once the title card has ran at the end of the movie.

The fact that the movie's thematic dexterity arises chiefly from a female character is particularly inspiring and a great choice from the scriptwriters who also deserve credit as well as Marc Webb for giving the audience a romantically dramatic arc that is more compassionately beautiful than in any other comic book franchise around (even the underrated Lois Lane/Superman dynamic from Zack Snyder's Man of Steel). Gwen Stacy and Peter have the best moments in the movie and their chemistry is well served by a romantic choice of music in their scenes - one of which is framed by Phosphorescent and the use of the song 'Zula' which plays as Gwen and Peter meet up in China Town. Scenes like this are aided well in musical terms by Hans Zimmer and the Magnificent Six which includes Pharrell Williams, former Smiths guitar man Johnny Marr and Junkie XL whose music features on the deluxe edition of the soundtrack. The score veritably honks out dubstep breaks combined with Zimmer's orchestral style.

The movie is not perfect and I would hasten to add that some aspects of the plot do not work (some of Jamie Foxx's story arc seems to have been teleported in from Batman Forever). However these are all minor complaints amongst a great set of the moments that encompass the best of comic book feature film making. To me a good comic book movie should make you want to be more than you are, and on this level The Amazing Spiderman 2 succeeds in spades. Its romantic heart stems from the love of Spiderman's life. Gwen Stacy was so beautifully brought to life in the Jeph Leob, Tim Sale graphic novel 'Blue' and Webb manages to combine the iconography of this character with his own directorial flourishes to give us a wonderful addition to the Spiderman cannon. The fact the narrative context of the main character's specificity and story grows from a female protagonist is organic and beautifully rendered. Thanks to Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield for catching me in their web.