More than most movies this Spidey begs the question: Is it necessary? 10 years ago Spider-Man by Sam Raimi with Tobey McGuire and Kirsten Dunst was released.
But I can’t think of an objective standard to answer the question. Instead, i’m going to ignore it and just talk about whether I liked this movie.
[This review contains minor spoilers.]
Marc Webb is the director, Andrew Garfield is Spidey/Peter, Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy, the love interest, Dennis Leary is Capt. Stacy, Gwen’s father, Martin Sheen is Uncle Ben Parker and Sally Field is Aunt May Parker.
Right off you can see it is an interesting cast. The only unfamiliar name is Spidey. There is also no JJJ or Daily Bugle staff is this version.
Garfield is a more interesting actor than McGuire is. I find that McGuire only has the one most befuddled look that he uses for most everything. Garfield has an amazingly expressive face. Eighteen different emotions play across it every time the camera is on him. He is interesting and effective in the role of Peter. Because he is so facially expressive, this Spidey seems to lose his mask in every scene.
The Gwen Stacy character is cool. Emma Stone brings life to an underwritten part. There is some background to the character – she has a research assistant job as Oscorp while still in High School. But soon she gets the role of reacting to things that Peter does.
The plot is in two parts. The origin of Spidey is retold and then his first adventure/heroics. The origin is significantly tweaked from the classic. There is no wrestling for Peter this time around. And when Uncle Ben meets his fate it is no longer just random bad luck – I like that bit. Peter’s parents, their disappearance and Peter’s feelings towards them play a larger role. Finally the only negative is that the classic line of “With great power comes great responsibility” is not included, but only a paraphrase.
The second part has the Lizard as the main villain. Plus complications as Peter starts to interact with Gwen’s father, Police Capt. Stacy. The Capt. Stacy parts are quite good, but the Lizard parts seem quite rote.
The effects are strong. That is expected, I think. Swinging is old hat now, but there are several neat web stunts.
The action is good, but unexceptional. There is a nice sense of threat to Spidey’s life. He’s still a novice and threatened by normal thugs. The Lizard is much tougher than he.
Finally the direction. Webb has a brisk movie with few lags, but with few flourishes too. There is nothing to distinguish this film from other Super-Hero flicks other than its pedigree.
In a few words, the movie has many excellent bits, but when all put together as a whole it is less than the sum of its parts. It is entertaining and exciting, but ultimately forgettable.