Director: Marc Webb
Writers: James Vanderbilt (story, screenplay), Alvin Sargent (screenplay), Steve Kloves (screenplay)
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
With a director called Webb, how could this not be amazing? Exactly, this is streets ahead of Raimi’s offerings (despite personally being a huge Sam Raimi fan) but they really were too mushy and casual for my liking. Sony’s new reboot of Marvel’s Spider-Man hits all the right notes in my opinion, especially in the casting department. Maguire was just too…well, too wet for my liking. I have nothing against the guy so whether it was direction or script I’m not sure (or he just isn’t an actor suited for that role). Garfield on the other hand nails the portrayal of Peter Parker as far as I am concerned with his geeky, cocky and youthful portrayal of everyone’s favourite web-slinger.
The film opens to Peter (Garfield) shouting for his father in his fathers study. Drawers are open, papers thrown around and the room is in a state of general disarray. Peter’s parents are hurriedly running around before leaving the house with him. They take Peter to his Uncle Ben’s (Sheen) and Aunt May’s (Field) house where he tries to eavesdrop on the conversation they have. Peter’s parents then leave him there as they leave. We then quickly fast forward to the present day and to a teenage Peter along with all of his teenage problems and issues. During a clean out of the basement with his uncle Ben, Peter comes across a leather briefcase that belonged to his father leading to Peter to start investigating their disappearance all those years ago.
Ok so let us start with the major talking points regarding this film. Was it completely unnecessary and unneeded? Very likely so yes. Does that make it a pointless film? One could argue that yes it does (and I hate remakes, reboots, re-imaginings and re-whatever else) and this would fall into that category. Do I hold the same view with this film as say something like Tarantino ripping off every great foreign film he has ever seen? No I don’t. Why? Well maybe I am a hypocrite and also maybe I don’t really see superhero films or franchises like this being the same as a classic one-off film. Hell, this franchise has been done to death over the years, and yes I include the awesomely, terribly bad short-lived TV series too. Was five years long enough to wait to reboot the character again? I guess your mileage will vary depending on your personal opinion of the previous three films.
My personal opinion of the three preceding films wasn’t great if I’m being honest. I’m sure many will hold them in high regard as the first decent Spider-Man films to have come along. I didn’t for various reasons, including those I stated above. Was it also right or wrong for Sony to re-use many scenes or make them similar? Another debatable point indeed but they did and so it is what it is. The only thing there, is did they manage to improve on those instances. I for one think they did. Was the former trying to be a more mature Spider-Man rather than this version? I think they were aiming for that, but Maguire and Dunstan (in my opinion) ruined any chances of that along with the script they had to work with. Is this iteration perhaps aimed at a more younger audience? I would say so yes and I think it works, while this one also has its darker moments.
So what does this new reboot version have going for it? Well for one, and this is a big one, Garfield is head and shoulders better than Maguire in pretty much every aspect for me. His looks, his physique (and let’s all remember folks and remove the rose-tinted from the Raimi films, Spidey was never big, never overly muscular or imposing in any way). Garfield was perfectly cast, acts the character wonderfully and is brilliant with his cockiness and the old Spidey sarcasm. My biggest issues with the Raimi films though is, Spidey wasn’t really Spidey at all. Maybe I am biased with this one but I also feel the interaction between Peter and Gwen (Stone) is infinitely better, but then maybe I just prefer Emma to Kirsten.
The rest of the cast are equally as good, Ifans, Sheen and Leary all shine, though it is a shame (personally) that Sheen did not have more screen time, but the time he does fill he fills big. Sally Field really doesn’t have a lot to do in this one and is somewhat wasted for someone with her credentials, but like the others she does add a star quality and a ‘name’ to the cast. Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors is excellent and hams it up wonderfully as The Lizard. Likewise, Leary is near faultless as Gwen’s father and Captain of the force. Other supporting characters are well cast and all play their parts well enough.
Another plus I have for this film is that it takes much longer for Peter to become Spider-Man. We get a lot more back-story regarding Peter and what happened with his parents than we ever did in the previous trilogy. I feel this is to the betterment of this new reboot and works well with our new antsy Parker. We learn more about Peter and thus connect with him better. The second huge plus for me is the web shooters. what was Raimi thinking in all seriousness? Back to how it should be, Peter showing his genius and intellect by designing his wrist worn web shooters. How they always have been, how they always should be. Spider-Man is just physically enhanced due to the spider toxins. He is not Brundle spider.
It really is a shame that Marvel did not keep Garfield on in the role of Parker/Spider-Man as I feel he really brought something to the suit. Overall though this is a funnier, less nerdy, more intricate telling of Spider-Man and his origins with a much more human and believable Peter Parker. If you have seen the Raimi trilogy and not caught this yet, just keep an open mind and enjoy a visually good looking film which is based in more physical reality. If you have not seen any of them, I personally really would just stick with this. Sorry Sam.
The Sage’s Rating: