By Luke Crumley
Starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Emma Stone (Zombieland), Rhys Ifans (Mr. Nice), and directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer). This new reboot to the franchise, follows Peter Parker (Garfield) as he again navigates his way through teen social dilemma’s, tries to find out who he is and where he fits in life, and his first high school crush…oh and being a super hero who swings around New York, on webs, after being bitten by a radioactive spider.
Abandoned by his parents at an early age and left with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), he spends most of the first act feeling lost or being bullied and pining after Gwen Stacy (Stone). While in the basement, with his uncle, Parker discovers an ominous briefcase of his father’s, containing a top-secret folder holding cryptic codes and genetic theories. Parker quickly becomes consumed with his father’s abandoned work and is eventually led to an old colleague and friend of his father—Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans). Connors, a scientist on a humanitarian mission, takes DNA from other creatures and places them in humans to help cure diseases or other ailments. Connors—having only one arm—is most concerned with splicing human and reptilian DNA for the lizard’s regenerative capability.
Parker, while seeking out Connors, breaks into a top-secret lab and finds his way into a spinning chamber of radioactive spiders. The venomous vortex of a machine comes to a halt causing the spiders to fall all over him. Making a quick exit he doesn’t notice the one specimen that hitched a ride under his shirt collar and later bites him, turning him into the “friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man” we all know so well. Shortly after, Connors’s funding is cut and he’s kicked out of the project—out onto the street—for not expediting human testing. He’s given the night to clear out his things but surprisingly he advantageously tests the reptilian serum on himself. It works as he awakens with a new arm…but he’s also a giant, angry lizard. So we as the audience are now treated to a third act full of razzle-dazzle 3-D special effects, as these two heavy weights duke it out.
When word got out they were going to not only do another Spider-Man, but a reboot, one question rose, which ran pretty similar to the rest of the fans of the franchise: Why? Only six years after the third-and-worst Raimi Spider-Man, what reason is there to make another? And hearing they were giving the Franchise to Webb, there was even more confusion. After seeing the film, it was shockingly impressive. Webb directed his actors and scenes quite well and stepped into the action-adventure genre with a graceful hand. The film doesn’t leave the sensation of breathlessness or break new ground–but as far as summer popcorn flicks go, it hits with perfect timing and instills that summer-movie feel. They did try to darken up the feel of the film—not that it’s comparable to a certain Christopher Nolan film, but it doesn’t play that comic-book goofiness like Raimi’s interpretations.
Further, the relationship between Gwen Stacy and Parker was built in a believable and fun way without turning the feel of the first act into an indie romance. The biggest issue, with the film, is it seemed to play on its Raimi counterparts just a bit too much. There were certain similarities such as Connors having conversations with himself, to illustrate just how crazy and unstable he’d become, which mirrored the scenes of the same nature, with Willem Dafoe in the first Raimi Spider-man. (Although you’ll find—if you stay after the credits—he may not have been talking to himself.) And other times, it seemed to pander to what audiences felt was missing from Raimi’s trilogy. With a sensibility of Raimi did that with Parker and Mary Jane so Webb’s doing this with Parker and Gwen Stacy in the current reboot. Sometimes it seemed to be done with a smirk or a sort of this-is-how- you-do-it attitude. And other times it seemed to just be by accident. Either way you’re left wondering if you’re sitting in a theater, watching a movie for the first time. Viewers can expect there to be six moments of déjà vu. Was there really a point in making this movie? Audiences will leave feeling torn. Ultimately it’s likeable, but the overall effect was comparable to throwing a new coat of paint on something.