Critical Mass: Will critics hamstring Spider-Man more than Electro will?

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Image Credit: Niko Tavernise

With The Amazing Spider-Man 2, one of comic-books’ most popular and cinematically reliable heroes is back in action. Perhaps a little cynicism has seeped into the franchise, what with it being rebooted so soon after Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire’s perfectly acceptable trilogy, but Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield have maintained the spirit of the character and instilled his universe with intense stakes and emotion. And lots and lots of backstory. And lots and lots of character seeds for future sequels and sidequels. But I digress.

This time, Spider-Man faces at least three supervillains, notably the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), Peter Parker’s frenemy and the wealthy heir to the Oscorp fortune. There’s also Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and Electro (Jamie Foxx), who’s been showcased extensively in the film’s trailers. Like Peter, Electro is the result of an Oscorp accident, a dweebish scientist named Max who falls into a tank of electric eels. (I hate when that happens.) “He transforms into a cool, glowing blue villain named Electro, who’s like a high-voltage cross between The King of Comedy‘s stalker Rupert Pupkin and Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen,” writes EW’s Chris Nashawaty. “He’s a powerless man who now has more power than he knows what to do with.”

While all current superhero tentpoles now seem bloated, at least the current Spider-Man series can rely on the genre’s truest romance, with real-life couple Garfield and Emma Stone providing believable sparks. At the end of the last film, Peter vowed that he wouldn’t put Gwen Stacy in harm’s way, but as they graduate from high school and their feelings for each other develop and mature, he finds that might be impossible. It’s a solid, human foundation to heap gigabyte over gigabyte of comic-book action.

Read Nashawaty’s entire review, as well as a round-up of other notable critics, below.

Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)
“Director Marc Webb’s dizzy, slickly enjoyable sequel gets a ton right. It’s a Marvel spectacle that manages to deftly balance razzle-dazzle, feel-it-in-your-gut slingshot moments of flight and believable human relationships. There’s psychological weight to go with all of the gravity-defying, webslinging weightlessness.”

Ty Burr (Boston Globe)
“I’m still not convinced we needed a new Spider-Man series, but at least this installment is interestingly mediocre instead of actively bad. Andrew Garfield seems more than ever to be channeling the spirit of the late Anthony Perkins … and the idea that Peter Parker might have a little Norman Bates in him is perversely cheering.”

David Edelstein (New York – Vulture)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is bloated and often boring and has absolutely no reason to exist, but that it also hits its marks. No fanboy will pass it up. No studio head will lose their job.”

Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald)
“But the heart of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, just like the previous film, is the bond between Peter and Gwen … Even if you took away all the superhero stuff, you’d watch these two in anything. That’s why The Amazing Spider-Man 2 grows stronger and more engrossing as it unfolds.”

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle) ▲
“When Stone and Garfield are together onscreen, they practically glow. At the same time, the movie deftly reminds us, at every turn, that their relationship could be dangerous, and Peter’s anxiety becomes ours. How rare it is with an action blockbuster to come out talking about the characters and the actors and not about explosions.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times)
“Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have terrific chemistry, but as is with the case with far too many superhero movies, the plot is a bit of an overstuffed mess, with at least one villain too many and a final act that could have been just about perfect if not for being overly occupied with setting up the next chapter in the series.”

Manohla Dargis (New York Times)
“As played by Emma Stone, who has the zing of a screwball heroine and the depthless eyes of an anime character, Gwen brightens The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a sequel that, until a late, lamentably foolish turn, balances blockbuster bombast with human-scale drama, child-friendly comedy and gushers of tears.”

Drew McWeeny (HitFix)
“I’m not sure which of the writers decided that Batman Forever was the touchstone to use for this movie, but Dillon follows pretty much the exact same arc as Jim Carrey’s take on The Riddler, going from a fan of the hero to an enemy as love and admiration curdle to something darker when they’re given power of their own.”

Betsy Sharkey (Los Angeles Times)
“Since Spider-Man, at nearly two and a half hours, has so much time on its hands, we get the pre-Electro story, which involves stolen blueprints, forgotten birthdays and bad teeth. Foxx does what he can to make Electro interesting, but as characters go he’s little more than a souped-up light show.”

Liam Lacey (Toronto Globe and Mail)
“DeHaan who looks like an overgrown child, doesn’t have the charisma James Franco brought to the same role, but he’s believable enough as a pampered rich baby who throws an epic temper tantrum when Spider-Man declines to give him a potential life-saving blood transfusion.”

Ann Hornaday (Washington Post)
“Some cracks are showing in the character’s internal dynamic. Spider-Man’s cheeky one-liners have always carried the ring of giddy liberation, the gee-whiz expressions of a shy teenager in the throes of newfound power and freedom. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, they just sound snarky.”

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 53
Rotten Tomatoes: 56 percent

Rated: PG-13
Length: 142 minutes
Director: Marc Webb
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan
Distributor: Sony

I’m not sure which of the writers decided that “Batman Forever” was the touchstone to use for this movie, but Dillon follows pretty much the exact same arc as Jim Carrey’s take on The Riddler, going from a fan of the hero to an enemy as love and admiration curdle to something darker when they’re given power of their own.
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/motion-captured/review-amazing-spider-man-2-gets-so-much-right-but-still-has-first-films-flaws#fX4IaZD0IOqRbKSJ.99
I’m not sure which of the writers decided that “Batman Forever” was the touchstone to use for this movie, but Dillon follows pretty much the exact same arc as Jim Carrey’s take on The Riddler, going from a fan of the hero to an enemy as love and admiration curdle to something darker when they’re given power of their own.
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/motion-captured/review-amazing-spider-man-2-gets-so-much-right-but-still-has-first-films-flaws#fX4IaZD0IOqRbKSJ.99

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