DIRECTOR: Marc Webb
May Contain Spoilers!
Is five years long enough for a reboot? Did Sam Raimi’s trilogy need rebooting? No, not really, besides the bloated third instalment but I think that a lot of this comes from the age of Toby Maguire, and the obvious eventual involvement for Spidy in the ever evolving Avengers project.
Let’s face it, Spider-man is the jewel in the crown of the Marvel movie universe, with a successful trilogy already under its belt, a solid fan base, both on and off the page, The Avengers (2012) which was made up of a collection of lesser known heroes, Spider-man needs to move on from his own solo movies.
So, gone is Danny Elfman’s score and Rami’s light touch direction, but also gone is the horrendously misjudged role of Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) who would spend the final act of each film, screaming whilst wet and wearing flimsy dress. Here, we have the much better, stronger and sassier Emma Stone, playing Peter Parker’s other love, Gwen Stacey. Her father is a New York cop (Denis Leary), the Osborns are present only by name, with the villain of the week being The Lizard (Rhys Ifans).
But there are two real stars of the show, one is the new Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), still a geek but much tougher and more likely to become the vigilante Spider-man that Maguire’s incarnation. Cockey, smart and after his encounter with a radioactive spider, super, but the web slinging is nicely handled, this time not a part of his mutation, but a practical tool he picks up from Oscorp. The second is Marc Webb’s direction.
I first came across Webb with his earlier movie, (500) Days Of Summer (2009), which was good rom-com and when I heard that he was going to tackle Spider-man, I knew that we on to a good thing, and I was right. Whist the action is typical, with moments of flair, the heart of the story, is the romance between Parker and Stacey, modern and idie in tone, this is something which is often overlooked or underwritten in films such as this, but here, it’s believable and plays well.
The plot is simple and plays out similar to Raimi’s, with the untimely death of Parker’s Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) by a robber who Peter had let escape and his becoming Spider-man in order to track the killer down, but meanwhile, a scientist who is trying to do good, creates a monster from within himself and plans to turn the rest of the population of New York into reptiles just like him.
His motivations make sense, the solution, though telegraphed is solid and Stacey’s role in the finale is to actually to help rather than hinder, as Mary Jane did bu being tied up! The tone is sharp and modern, up their with Iron Man (2008), a likeble cocky character with an edge. The look is in many ways too similar to Raimi’s trilogy to justify a reboot, but this is more to do with a recast more than anything else and with his role in The Avengers sequels immanent, I can see why, and Garfield is a great choice for the role of Parker.
One of the best modern Marvel’s, up there with Iron Man (2008) and The Avengers (2012) but do not expect something completely different, just a Spider-man for the 2010’s, rather than the 2000’s…
N.B. This is a review of the 2D version.