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.”