When this film was first announced, I, like most, felt it was too early for a reboot. The Sam Raimi franchise began a mere 10 years ago, and was hugely successful. I then heard that the director of (500) Days Of Summer (Marc Webb) was attached, so was curious as to what new life would be breathed into a franchise which peaked at the second, but dropped for its third.
This new film is enjoyable. Andrew Garfield can act (a lot better than he did in 2007’s Doctor Who two-parter Daleks In Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks) and brings Peter Parker to life really well. Emma Stone is a nice on-screen presence too, and looks very nice parading around in stockings. Rhys Ifans is also very good as Curt Conners (aka The Lizard), and Denis Leary delivers a believable and likable Police Chief George Stacy. One of the film’s strengths is the film’s characters, as here they are not one-dimensional good or bad guys. Bully Flash, for instance, is the first one to express his condolences to Peter following the death of his Uncle, and becomes friendlier towards him. Connors also has moments at the end of the film which are both bad and good, despite his alter-ego just being plain bad. Even the smaller roles are good, C. Thomas Howell, for example, gets to repay Spider-Man’s rescue of his son Jack by later assisting Spider-Man. It is good to see the citizens not taking him for granted.
The Lizard looks cartoon-like. I almost expected Captain Kirk to be fighting (like the Gorn in Classic Star Trek’s Arena from the first season). However, given that this is a movie based on a comic book, this can be forgiven, as maybe the intention was to make it look more like a moving comic, right down to the look of the Lizard. The finale scenes all look beautiful though, especially the blue snow. However, this film has been so well trailered that most of the end scenes have already been glimpsed. The 3D looks ok in parts, but then shortly you forget it’s there, until the last part of the film where all of a sudden the film has tremendous depth (for the customary last Spider-Man’s swinging through the city to close the film and start the credits). The city though, looks beautiful. It is vibrant and colourful. Stan Lee also gets his usual cameo, as a librarian in a more humerous moment of the film.
There is a strong sense of déjà vu watching this film. All the main dramatic beats are the same. Uncle Ben runs off after Peter, Peter allows a robber to escape, the same robber murders Uncle Ben with a gunshot. Peter’s discovery of his powers are very similar too, although the scene on the subway injects more humour than the previous film’s. Peter’s getting bullied by Flash, and then humiliating him. It’s all too familiar. Even the initial rescues, and the look of Spider-Man swinging through the city, all look too similar to the previous 3 films. There’s also the origin of the Lizard. He is a nice scientist who befriends Peter, then becomes evil when he self experiments (in the same way Norman Osborn does in 2002’s film). And he’s green. Green Goblin/green Lizard. The feeling that we’ve seen it all before is too prevalent for me. There is also a moment in the sewers, where Connors has an argument with himself (or his alter-ego) which also feels very similar to Osborn in the 2002 film.
There is a post-credits scene involving Dr. Connors hearing a voice that hints at more mystery surrounding the fate of Peter’s parents, and sounding suspiciously like the previous franchise’s Goblin. It has been reported recently that this voice we hear is not Norman Osborn though, but instead someone else in Osborn’s employ. It’s a good sequel set-up, though we’ll probably have to wait until the sequel in May 2014 to find out who this is (or at least until they’re casting the sequel).
So in all, this feels like we’ve seen it all before. There’s not that much new or exciting here, and to see Spider-Man’s origin story told again, so shortly after the previous films feels a little like repetition. That being said the film delivers on its expectations. Th trailers didn’t excite me so I was rushing out to see this film. They instead made me imagine a film that would be fun and enjoyable, and this film is that. It is a good beginning to a new trilogy, which from the last note, looks set to have much more exciting things to come.