Critics weigh in on Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone's return to the world of the web-spinner
Will the second time be the charm when it comes to “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”?
Sony Pictures’ follow-up to its 2012 reboot doesn't land in U.S. theaters until May 2, but audiences in Europe are beginning to get a look at the wall-crawler's latest adventure (the better to steer clear of this summer's World Cup).
Initial notices were mixed — Some reviewers complained that the picture is bloated and charmless, while others praised stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone‘ for their romantic chemistry and lauded the action sequences.
The film finds Spider-Man/Peter Parker facing off against Electro (Jamie Foxx) and the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), while fending off the Rhino (Paul Giamatti) for good measure. It's an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to franchise building that hints at future sequels and spin-offs, some reviewers noted.
One piece of criticism that had Sony Pictures’ public relations team reaching for the Tums, was Oliver Lyttelton's evisceration of the film. The Playlist critic slapped the picture with a D rating, grousing that it made him consider avoiding future Spider-Man films like the plague. From an over-stuffed plot to scenery-chewing performances, nothing escaped Lyttelton's withering gaze.
“The sequel, hitting less than two years after the first (and respectively, two and four years before the already-scheduled third and fourth films, not to mention the ‘Sinister Six’ and ‘Venom’ spin-offs that are in the works) doesn't just double down on what didn't work in the first film, it manages to undo some of the good qualities of the original as well,” Lyttelton wrote. ”The result is a film that kicks off the summer blockbuster season with a resounding thud.”
Lyttelton's review was savage, but David Edwards’ assessment may have been even worse.
In a take-down of the sequel, the Daily Mirror critic evoked “Batman & Robin,” the fanboy nightmare responsible for fever dream visions of George Clooney in a nipple-accentuating bat suit.
“Shortly after wrapping ‘Batman & Robin’ its star, George Clooney, turned to director Joel Schumacher and quipped, ‘I think we might have killed the franchise,'” Edwards wrote. “I wonder if Andrew Garfield said the same thing after watching the finished print of this squished spider of a superhero sequel.”
Simon Reynolds at Digital Spy had some qualms with the film, hinting that commercialism dwarfed creativity at times, but he nevertheless seemed to enjoy the latest cinematic chronicle of costumed vigilanteism.
“Peter's past, present and future all intertwine in a sequel that offers bang for your buck,” Reynolds wrote. “That said, you can't help feel the franchise bean counters at work here thanks to all the ominous foreshadowing and unresolved character arcs. Too many cooks and all that…”
The Guardian's Tim Robey was left cold by Foxx's Electro, but he had no trouble feeling the heat between Garfield and Stone.
“They light the film up with a sparkle and sadness it couldn't live without,” he wrote.
It's hard to escape the feeling of deja vu, Guy Lodge of Variety wrote, noting that round two of Spidey's adventures arrives with barely a break between Sam Raimi's earlier trilogy. Yet, he did imply that the teenage hero was still good for a few more adventures.
“Continuing Peter Parker's investigation of his shady family history while serving up a brace of villains — one more familiar than the other — for him to contend with, this bloated but enjoyable outing will pull in enough crowds to justify Sony's reluctance to relinquish this heavily built-up creative property,” Lodge wrote.
Perhaps the most enthusiastic reaction to Spider-Man's latest mission to save Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs from disaster belonged to The Guardian's Xan Brooks. Despite the familiar material, he lauded director Marc Webb for finding ways to make it feel fresh and for crafting pure popcorn thrills.
“‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2' seems to know exactly what it's doing,” Brooks wrote. “Webb's film is bold and bright and possesses charm in abundance. It swings into the future and carries the audience with it.”
Get ready for round 3 (or 6, depending on who's counting).