Marc Webb’s second installment of the re-booted Spider-Man franchise feels like a throwback to the super-hero movies of a decade ago – the first Hulk, Bryan Singer’s X-Men movies, Mark Steven Johnson’s Daredevil. It’s all spectacle, explosions and a dash of romance. It’s melodramatic rather than dark, angsty but not tortured.
On those terms, it’s a solid outing for the web-slinger. But the super-hero genre has evolved. Marvel is busy patching together the kind of multi-layered, crossover universe that exists within its comics (something DC is set to break into with its upcoming Batman vs Superman); meanwhile, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy mines altogether darker, more psychologically difficult territory. Webb’s movie looks decidedly two-dimensional in comparison.
This time Spider-Man – the excellent Andrew Garfield – faces off against Electro (Jamie Foxx), one of the few villains left after Sam Raimi tried to use them all in the third installment of the original trilogy (keep up…). Foxx shouts and screams and blows lots of stuff up, and does a perfectly acceptable job of it, but none of the over-long set pieces feel very original.
Peter Parker’s relationship with Gwen Stacy is the movie’s saving grace – Emma Stone is dreamy as the love-interest and Garfield is at his best when he’s moping. Watching the two of them becomes sweet relief from the all-too-familiar action sequences.
First published in City A.M.