So another year brings yet more reboots. This time a reboot of a series that had barely finished. Did we really need to see another origin story of Spiderman so soon after the first? Well yes and no depending on your view point, choice of style and a preferance of Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield.
So let's start with the obvious comparisons. Sam Raimi's take on Spiderman is a colourful full on popcorn entertainment. Mixing great action set pieces with some character development he managed to bring the super hero genre bang up to date. The original was a bit cumbersome in its choice of bad guy but the second was a supreme example of perfect blockbuster fodder. It had shed loose of its origin story shackles and broke free with a superbly memorable villain in the guise of Dr Octopus and had some astounding action beats, The third one....well probably best to skirt over that one.
So now on to Mark Webb's (as apt a name as any) take on all things Spiderman. The first thing you will notice is this is a broody, moody piece. Gone is the colour. Gone is the comic book feel. Here we have Andrew Garfield smouldering his way through Peter Parkers life. He embodies the modern gritty Spiderman. He has issues. Lots of them and they continue to grow as the film goes on. Teenage angst at its best here.
Andrew Garfield is overall great . He is easy to watch and takes on the role with gusto. There are times where the sarcastic wit of Toby Maguire is missed as Garfield's take can sometimes come across as a bit of an ass but on the whole he is likable. Mary Jane is dropped in favour of Gwen Stacy which is a bold and brilliant move. The dynamic between the two is sizzling and it makes for a welcome change from MJ's mooching about.
In fact a large part of the film is devoted to developing Gwen and Peter's relationship which presumably is being set up for some dramatic twists in future films. The time isn't wasted, it works. You feel a connection with the two and you actually want them to get through their troubles.
Next up is the big bad of the piece. The rather risky choice of a fully CG lizard. What could have derailed the film completely and been a huge disaster was actually handled well. The effects were decent and Rhys Ifans played the part well. It could have done with a few more actions scenes involving the Lizard and maybe something a bit more inventive than the monster b-movie finish we ended up with but overall a minor success.
The action is a little hit and miss too. There is plenty of it but some of the choreography is ropey at best. Also the point of view shots of Spiderman swinging through the city are a little jarring.
The film is dark and moody keeping in line with the current trend. It works on many levels but fails on others. For example the characters here are very cold. Even Aunt May and Uncle Ben don't convey enough to make you feel attached to them. Curt Connors is hard to invest interest in until he mutates. Luckily Spidey himself is generally relatable and can only grow from here. This feels like a stepping stone onto greater things and if they can wrangle the multitude of storylines and villains they have planned for the sequel we could be in for a real treat.
The story arc is tantalising. Hopefully we will see Spiderman soar again. On this evidence I am sure we will.