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This image released by Sony Pictures shows Dane DeHaan in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’. (AP)
Garfield, Stone save Spidey 2 Zack Snyder to direct ‘Justice League’

Deep into “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” my 11-year-old companion was confused about a certain plot point — justifiably, I’d say — and demanded an immediate and thorough explanation. “Shh, not now. Later!” I hissed. Because, though I didn’t admit it, I really didn’t want to miss an Andrew Garfield-Emma Stone kiss. And who knew when the next one was coming? With great chemistry, you see, comes great kissing. Let’s just say this unequivocally: Whether or not my young Spidey fan would agree, the best thing about the “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” the second installment of director Marc Webb’s series reboot, is that infectious chemistry between Garfield and Stone.

In fact, given that this overstuffed, overly long film is a sequel to a sequel, and that it spends a gazillion dollars retelling a story (in 3-D and IMAX) that the world already knows, you could argue that the Garfield-Stone dynamic is the real justification for the whole enterprise. This isn’t just because the two happen to be real-life partners — though it can’t hurt. Garfield is a sensitive actor who brings a quirky blend of intelligence and goofiness to Peter Parker, and a welcome hipster edge to the role that the wide-eyed Tobey Maguire didn’t have in the earlier incarnation of the Marvel character.

As for Stone, she’s just so darned charming. And though it’s again a stretch to imagine her as a high school student, heck, we’ll take it. (In fact, Stone is 25 and Garfield is 30, so we’re just gonna have to give them a pass on this. At least they get their diplomas this time.) Another winning presence is that of Sally Field, touching as the now-widowed Aunt May. The reliable Field gets one terrifically emotional scene with Peter that may have you reaching for a tissue. As for the plot, though, that may have you reaching for a notepad. There are not one, not two, but three villains (at least!) here, and all sorts of backstories — something for everyone, which means too much.

The most important backstory involves Peter’s parents, and what really happened to them once they abandoned him as a tot (hint: it involves a very fast-paced plane ride). Back on terra firma, we start with an even faster-paced urban chase involving Spider-Man, a hammy, Russian-accented Paul Giamatti, and some plutonium, distracting Peter/Spidey from Gwen, who’s anxiously awaiting Peter’s arrival at their graduation.
Peter does arrive, miraculously, but we quickly learn that the key obstacle to their relationship remains in place: Peter’s fear of putting Gwen in harm’s way. Haunted, Peter just can’t commit (they always have an excuse, right?) Not surprisingly, Gwen gets very charmingly annoyed, and kinda sorta breaks up with him. But these two can’t stay apart for long.

Meanwhile, there are big goings-on at Oscorp, that huge bioengineering corporation headed by Norman Osborn. With Norman on his deathbed, son Harry (Dane DeHaan) Peter’s old buddy, returns from boarding school. The pale, wiry DeHaan is entertainingly creepy as he descends into desperation. Then there’s the unappreciated Oscorp employee Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx). When he falls into a vat of mutant electric eels (OSHA would have a field day at Oscorp), he morphs into Electro, a glowing monster who can manipulate electricity and suck the power from a whole city (Foxx is more convincing as the villain than the self-effacing scientist).

In this age of multi-tasking, Peter/Spidey sure has his work cut out for him — taking care of New York, of Gwen, and of the endearingly curious Aunt May, who, in a funny moment, wonders why, when Peter does the laundry, he turns all the clothes red and blue? Where will it all end? Well, at least two more sequels (to the sequel, to the sequel) are planned, and any number of future confrontations loom. Which of the villains will re-emerge to challenge Spidey? Shh, not now. Later! We’re thinking about that kiss. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” a Columbia Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “sequences of sci-fi action/violence.” Running time: 142 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

Warner Bros has announced that its untitled “Man of Steel” sequel, which is tentatively titled “Batman vs. Superman,” will lead directly into a “Justice League” movie that will be directed by Zack Snyder, the studio’s president of worldwide production Greg Silverman confirmed Sunday night. Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill are expected to reprise their roles as Batman and Superman, respectively, and Gal Gadot will likely return to play Wonder Woman. Warner Bros has not scheduled a release date yet, though there conflicting ideas regarding the studio’s possible plans. The Wall Street Journal suggests “Justice League” will not hit theaters before 2018, while Latino Review claims the film will be released in May 5, 2017, and that Snyder plans to shoot “Batman vs. Superman” and “Justice League” back-to-back.

While Silverman didn’t reveal which other DC superheroes will join the aforementioned trio, expect to see The Flash, Aquaman and Green Lantern again, though it’s unclear if Ryan Reynolds will don the power ring or whether the role will be recast. One casting rumor that has been circulating around Hollywood for more than a year is that Affleck’s close friend and collaborator Matt Damon is being sought to play Aquaman, though to be fair, Jason Momoa has also been rumored for that role (among others), and he is expected to appear in “Batman vs. Superman” in some unknown capacity.

“Mad Max” filmmaker George Miller had previously developed a “Justice League” movie that Warner Bros came close to producing in 2008, though ultimately the project was scrapped. Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing for Warner Bros, also revealed that the studio is keen to make a “Wonder Woman” movie, but that a spinoff is dependent on the script. “Batman vs. Superman” is slated to hit theaters on May 6, 2016, the same day Disney and Marvel plan to release “Captain America 3.” The Wall Street Journal was first to report the news. (Agencies)

By Jocelyn Noveck

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