'The Amazing Spider-Man 2': What the Critics Are Saying

11:27 AM PST 05/02/2014 by Ashley Lee

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone return for Marc Webb's sequel, with villains played by Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan and Paul Giamatti.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 swoops into theaters Friday, with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone returning to tackle Jamie Foxx's Electro, Dane DeHaan's Green Goblin and Paul Giamatti's Rhino in the Marc Webb-directed sequel.

Sony's $200 million-plus sequel earned a pleasing $8.7 million in its Thursday night North American opening, and prerelease tracking suggests it will match or best the $95 million domestic opening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has already earned nearly $150 million overseas, where it began rolling out two weeks ago. It opens in another raft of markets this weekend, including in China on Sunday.

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Read what top critics are saying about The Amazing Spider-Man 2:

The Hollywood Reporter's film critic Leslie Felperin wrote that "the plot gets itself tangled up in multiple villain strands, but in the main, this installment is emotionally weightier and more satisfying than its predecessor." What's the key? "In truth, none of the many subplots or action sequences, zesty though they are, have as much combustible power as the scenes featuring Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Gwen, benefiting here as did the previous film from the fizzy, tangible chemistry between Garfield and Stone.… Blockbusters by their very nature have to appeal to a mass audience, and yet little tweaks and touches here and there add a freshness, a quirkiness that make this feel like a blockbuster franchise teenagers can embrace as well as their dads."

The New York Times' Manohla Dargis called the film "a sequel that, until a late, lamentably foolish turn, balances blockbuster bombast with human-scale drama, child-friendly comedy and gushers of tears." With multiple villains, the script has "an almost rhythmic predictability: Spider-Man fights a villain; Peter hangs with family and friends; repeat." And after scenes that station an interesting Stone as a secondary character to Spider-Man -- "a brief, irksome reminder that most women in the big comic-book movies continue to be consigned to supporting roles, and especially antediluvian ones, good for ogling and saving and not much more" -- a "blunt, uncharacteristically violent development is true to the source material, but it’s a bummer and a blown opportunity."

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Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times said that while Peter and Gwen share some satisfying moments, the bond between Spidey and everyone else in the movie "has lost its personal touch," as in a scene with a kid that needs saving that feels contrived in comparison to the franchise's first film, "as if the writers realized that connection was missing." Regarding the villains, "Foxx does what he can to make Electro interesting, but as characters go he's little more than a souped-up light show. DeHaan fares a little better. His bad Harry, a bitter and entitled youth, is right in the actor's sweet spot," and of the action sequences, she wrote, "There are only so many ways to spin that web before it stops being cool."

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The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips gave the sequel two stars, as "a reasonably entertaining melange, shot every whichaway, a little hand-held here, a little bob-and-weave there, capturing the swoony, combative couple at the story's center." Of the conversational scenes, he noted that a good amount of time "can be attributed to loose flaps of dead air preceding simple lines of dialogue meant to be whipped through with a little urgency, contributed by Garfield and by Dane DeHaan."

Richard Corliss of Time wrote that the film "goes frantic and rote by turns, mislaying the power of the central love story and piling on the mutant adversaries." The "less-than-worthy sequel to the 2012 picture" reminded him of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, when it was "believed that the series could be extended simply by signing big stars to play new villains. Here, Foxx "disappears into the CGI effects," DeHaan is "not a proper rival to Garfield," and Giamatti's "late arrival in the movie smacks of the screenwriters’ desperation to make their action-scene quota."

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee

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