Early Reviews: Critics Tangled Over 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' Villains

·Contributor

Critics are already weighing in on "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" and its mob of villains more than three weeks from its U.S. release.

The Story
"The plot gets itself tangled up in multiple villain strands," notes Leslie Felperin at The Hollywood Reporter," sharing a common gripe among early reviewers. Mark Adams at ScreenDaily agrees, saying the film "comes close to losing its way due to its overly-plotted baddies," resulting in "a rather unwieldy sense to its structure as characters slug it out for screen time."

As far as the villains themselves, Jamie Foxx is receiving mixed reactions for his portrayal of Max Dillon/Electro, while Dane DeHaan ("Chronicle," "Kill Your Darlings") is getting almost unanimous praise for his sly turn as Harry Osborn/The Green Goblin. And Paul Giamatti's Aleksei Sytsevich/The Rhino? Well, there's just not a whole lot to say on his role because it's pretty small.

Jaime Foxx
THR's Felperin is one of Foxx's defenders, saying the Oscar-winning actor, "even under all the prosthetic make-up and visual effects ... manages to project a literally white-hot rage and damaged psyche."

Stefan Page at HeyUGuys is a fan, too, comparing the "initially endearing" character to Elsa in "Frozen" and writing that Electro is a "wonderfully constructed antagonist" who "earns our sympathy and becomes more relatable and real," though regretting that ultimately "the character is underused and his potential is not fulfilled." And Dibdin at Total Film says there's "a real poignancy" to the unfortunate antagonist.

[Related: Dane DeHaan Gives Us the Creeps as Green Goblin in 'Amazing Spider-Man 2']

Others aren't feeling the electricity:

"The naturally dynamic Foxx never seems comfortable with the workplace-wallflower characterization. ... [Electro is] little more than a warm-up act for the more serpentine villainy of Dane DeHaan." —Guy Lodge, Variety
"Jamie Foxx's Max Dillon is a particular problem. ... The shortcuts to pathos in his character feel milked and blatant." —Tim Robey, The Telegraph
"Foxx is an overly-mannered nightmare." —Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist

Dane DeHaan
Foxx's partner in crime is getting much better marks, with Lodge at Variety praising DeHaan's "louche, faintly lascivious performance" as Harry Osborn — aka the glider-flying maniac Green Goblin — and that "the promise of his continued presence is the chief reason to anticipate the already-scheduled 'Amazing Spider-Man 3.'"

Dibdin at Total Film echos the thought, claiming that "when DeHaan is on screen it's impossible to look anywhere else."

"DeHaan fares much better [than Foxx], playing a Harry Osborn who's more jittery and complex than playboy smarmy like his predecessor James Franco." —Simon Reynolds, Digital Spy
"DeHaan remains a hugely charismatic presence. ...is basically a replication of DeHaan's performance in the far superior ‘Chronicle.’" —Lyttelton, The Playlist
"The character echoes the one he played in 'Chronicle.' ...With his angular, androgynous beauty and piercing eyes, DeHaan is well cast." —Felperin, THR

[Related: 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' Director Marc Webb Takes Fan Questions About Spidey's Villains]

Paul Giamatti
Lyttelton also says the film is "wildly overstuffed." So stuffed, apparently, that little room was left for Paul Giamatti's Rhino, observes Daniel Krupa at IGN who says the actor "is limited to cameos, providing short action sequences." Still, says, Felperin, "[he is] maniacally gleeful, especially when he comes back in the last scene as the Rhino, evoking memories of Mole Man in 'The Incredibles.'"

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" opens in the U.S. on May 2.