Don’t rub your eyes, you’ve seen this story before, high schooler Peter Parker is bitten by a genetic changed spider, gains super powers, learns that with great power comes… Well he learns it but those words are never really used. It’s a lot like Spiderman that came out in 2002, yet it somehow feels older than that film, the movie is dark in tone, graphics are a mess and in the end they squeezed the fun out of Spider-man. Now not everything is bad here, the actors are actually better, it’s closer to the comics in many ways, but its when it decides to stray from the comic that things get really messy and really silly.
This series really shouldn’t have been rebooted, a sequel would have worked fine. I get the interest though in rebooting it, you get a new at bat(Sorry for the baseball lingo). The bonus to that though is we get Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and he is frankly perfect for the role. I buy him as a geek, he also handled all the emotional scenes very well. Really there is a lot more weighing on Garfield since the movie itself is a mess and none of that is his fault. He and Emma Stone who plays Gwen Stacy are so good together on screen you almost forget all the other nonsense that happens… Almost. They along with the other actors really try and it shows and frankly they almost save this sinking ship… Again, almost. We get Spider-man’s intro AGAIN accept this time we are introduced to his parents who will probably come up in sequels but are barely important to this film.
Martin Sheen plays Uncle Ben, his screen time is limited but when he is there his heart is felt on screen. He and Garfield are very good together. Sally Field plays Aunt May who has even less screen time, but I’m sure as more movies come along she’ll get a little more to do. Uncle Ben’s character though and what happens to him is where the movie really starts to slip, as a reboot we go through everything again… So they had to change Spider-man’s creation a little, which frankly is pointless. Instead of Ben being killed while waiting for Parker, he is killed trying to stop a robber. Peter in a weird way could have maybe stopped the man. He knows what the guy looks like and learns that the robber had a star tattoo on his left wrist. This is what leads Parker to become Spider-man… To find this man and get revenge. So he goes out and attacks any criminal that looks like the killer. That is simply stupid.
The films other huge problem was the villain, Rhys Ifans plays Dr. Curt Connors who knew Parker’s father. He is missing his right arm, so he dedicated his scientific career to help those who are impaired. This leads him to testing a formula Parker help create on himself. This turns him into a human sized Lizard. It also seemingly makes him go insane as he then tries to turn every citizen of New York into Lizard people. First problem is the Lizard looks nothing like he does in the comics, maybe wears him lab coat once, he has human face… They got everything wrong. Even to the end where Connors is essentially looked at as a terrorist.
The action I have to say is very solid in places, a fight between Spider-man and the Lizard in the high school is very impressive. Still what plagued Spider-man 3 essentially hurts this film. They simply had too much to do. They re-started the franchise, introducing us again to Peter, they brought in his parents story line, Uncle Ben’s death, Peter’s love story with Gwen Stacy, The Lizard’s arch… It was just too much. A lot felt rushed and it became clear why they rebooted it this quickly. They are using this film as a launching pad for others.
I don’t mean to be this negative, there are a lot of positives, the acting is really strong and worth the price of admission. The direction is a mess as is the story. They tried to ground Spider-man too much, like Nolan’s Batman films somehow was a shadow over this movie. You cannot make a movie based in a “real world” when having the villain be the Lizard, it just doesn’t work. After seeing this film I simply sat back and wish that Sony let Marvel take this product back.