Andrew Garfield stars as Spider-Man alongside Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," out in theaters this week. Owen Gleiberman filed the following review for NY1.
Coming out of a comic-book blockbuster, you'd probably tend to say something like, "That was pretty well done," or "That wasn't very good." "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is the rare blockbuster about which you could honestly say both things at once. It's pretty well done, and it isn't very good.
A dazzling amount of craftsmanly pizzazz has been poured into this movie, and it's fairly well acted, too. Andrew Garfield gives a more confident, less neutral performance than he did in "The Amazing Spider-Man" two years ago. He's urgent and engaged, and in his love scenes with Emma Stone, which pivot around Peter Parker saying he can no longer be involved with Gwen Stacy, but only because he cares too much to hurt her, you can see these two gifted stars working to make the relationship feel like something more than the obligatory romantic subplot it is.
Then, there's Jamie Foxx. He plays Max Dillon, a stammeringly insecure employee of Oscorp who falls into a tank full of giant electric eels, which transforms him into the vengefully angry human super-conductor Electro. If you're going to have a villain who's a cross between Jim Carrey's pre-Riddler nerd and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze, it helps to have an actor as good as Foxx go through those motions. I liked the special effects that turn Electro's flesh into a luminous mask of high voltage.
Yet the skin-deep script doesn't give Foxx a chance to invest the character with any real danger. And that's the problem with the whole movie: Everything in it seems to have come out of a box that says, "Market-tested generic superhero fantasy; assembly required."
I wasn't bored at "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," but when you consider that the reason they decided to reboot this franchise in the first place is that the original Tobey Maguire trilogy had already wrung the material dry, the best that can be said of the movie is that you watch it in a state of eye-popping indifference. The author William Burroughs was famously quoted as saying, "Nothing is true; everything is permitted." In "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," everything is competent; nothing is amazing.