The demands of developing a serialized franchise take precedence over coherent drama in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a scatterbrained sequel that's so busy establishing future installments — and the dynamics that will drive them — that it functions as an awkward middle chapter without any stand-alone substance of its own. Picking up where its predecessor left off, director Marc Webb's sophomore superhero outing finds Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) continuing to investigate the secret research done by his late father (Campbell Scott). That sleuthing is complicated, however, by all manner of sketchily drawn conflicts involving his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who's poised to leave NYC for London, as well as both a lonely-nerd-turned-electricity-monster dubbed Electro (Jamie Foxx) and Oscorp heir Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who wants Spider-Man's blood to help stave off some sort of fatal mutant condition. Amid lens flare-drenched CGI action shot by Webb from multiple perspectives to convey a reasonably thrilling sense of his hero's web-slinging acrobatics, Peter and Harry's kindred daddy hang-ups are handled facilely, as is a third-act tragedy that's clumsily telegraphed from the outset. Meanwhile, Peter and Gwen share much cutesy stammering-dialogue banter, but their amour comes across as a contrived plot device rather than the passionate crux of this saga, which ultimately pays only token attention to issues of responsibility, guilt, and "hope" (the film's oft-repeated buzzword). Epitomized by production design that's all reflective-metal shiny and Spidey's cooler-than-thou wisecracking, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 affects a sleek, edgy attitude at the expense of anything hidden beneath.