The webslinging hero battles a powerful new enemy when a downtrodden engineer develops lethal electrical powers in adventure sequel THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (12: Sony).
And a sprawling plot brings Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) face-to-face with skeletons in the family closet as well as an eerily blue-lit Jamie Foxx as Electro.
The latter threatens to throw New York into darkness and he overwhelms Spider-Man in their first, spectacular encounter in Times Square.
Meanwhile, there’s push and pull of a different kind with girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and childhood pal Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who finally inherits his father’s biomedical corporation.
Director Mark Webb’s film is a fine balance between comedy, pathos and action and his superhero saga is getting better, even if it is taking him a while to get into the swing of things. Unfortunately, Garfield can’t quite match Tobey Maguire’s vulnerability as Spider-Man in Sam Raimi’s franchise, which takes some of the weight out of later scenes.
The standout performance is DeHaan’s Osborn, slowly twisted by fear and loneliness.
> The world’s worst international soccer team, and its dogged attempts to haul itself up from the bottom of the global rankings, proves an engaging subject in crowd-pleasing documentary NEXT GOAL WINS (15: Icon).
With laughter, tears, a tragic backstory, an underdog saga and the novelty of the first transgender player, all the ingredients are there.
Only the disappointing performance of earlier football-themed docus threatens to subdue goalmouth celebrations.
The film begins during the early qualifying rounds for the 2014 World Cup. The national team from the tiny island of American Samoa has hit rock bottom. It hasn’t won in 17 years, during which time it’s conceded 229 goals and scored only two, with the 31-0 trouncing by Australia in 2001 remaining the worst defeat ever in an international match.
Hopes rise as the country prepares to compete in the Pacific Games in New Caledonia, but five straight losses and 26 given up confirm that passion and enthusiasm alone are not going to cut it at this level.
Potential salvation comes in the unlikely form of Thomas Rongen, a Dutch-born force of nature who responds to a plea by the US Soccer Federation for a professional coach to commit for one month and give the team a fighting chance.
> A PERFECT PLAN (15: Icon) is a contrived but occasionally diverting French romantic comedy starring Diane Kruger as Isabelle, an unadventurous dentist who’s about to marry her long-term boyfriend (Robert Plagnol).
But all the females in Isabelle’s family have a history of first marriages that end badly, so she decides to sidestep this trend by marrying and divorcing a random stranger in quick succession.
She chooses Jean-Yves (Dany Boon), an affable travel writer who forces her out of her comfortable, routine existence. The story that follows is entirely predictable, but the real problem is that none of the plot points are remotely convincing.
Kruger is impressively game in her first comedic role – despite being saddled with unnecessary pratfalls – and Boon provides dorky charm as the dictaphone-wielding love interest, but their rapport isn’t able to overcome the film’s shortcomings.