When I first heard about the Spiderman reboot, all I could think was how pointless it was. Yes, Spiderman 3 was bad – Peter turning into an emo, getting a side fringe and jazz dancing along the street winking at girls is the single most cringe worthy movie scene of all time – but did it really need a complete reboot? All they needed to do for Spiderman 4 was have less villains, and less dancing. But reboots obviously mean more money so only 5 years after the last Sam Raimi film Marc Webb was enlisted to take over the franchise.
I had high expectations for Webb as his sublime directorial debut (500) Days of Summer was oozing with originality and quirk, although I wondered how these aspects would translate to a superhero movie. The quirk comes from the beautiful Emma Stone who plays the awkward-yet-sassy geek Gwen Stacy. She seems to bring every character she plays to life through a mixture of intelligence and girl-next-door appeal, and here is no different.
There were many aspects of the film I felt improved slightly on ideas Raimi touched upon. First off, the phrase ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ isn’t uttered once, let alone 300 times. Secondly, Spidey in this film manufactures his own web from his vast scientific knowledge – this graft mirrors Nolan’s Batman: the self-made superhero. I also much preferred the less obvious transformation Peter goes through in The Amazing Spiderman. He doesn’t go to sleep and wake up with a six-pack like Tobey Maguire did – his reflexes merely begin to enhance, and then he seeks the rest of his answers to his new body through his interest in science. His enquiring also conveniently leads him to the film’s villain: The Lizard (Dr. Curt Connors) over-acted by Rhys Ifans.
Where the film falls a little short for me is with the casting. Stone trumps Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane, but only slightly, but Andrew Garfield just isn’t the Peter that Tobey Maguire was. Garfield’s performance, although is mostly good, often feels forced – he’s too good looking to act like a nerd but too ordinary looking to act like the tough guy, and it’s quite obvious that he’s 11 years older than his character’s age in real life. However, Garfield does deliver a few memorable moments, most notably when he teases a criminal with whip-sharp insults and by using his web to pin him to a wall. Ifans’ Lizard is not provocative enough as a villain to begin a rebooted franchise with: it lacks the omniscient taunts of Willem Defoe’s Green Goblin, and is only actually present very far into the film due to the retelling of the backstory. Ifans plays the character far too dramatically, in a way where it feels like Hannibal Lecter is metamorphosing into the Hulk at a tacky British pantomime. However, Aunt May isn’t an annoying 90-year-old woman in this film, which can only be a good thing.
Leaving the film, I felt a little empty; I did enjoy it, thoroughly even, but 2002’s Spiderman was too fresh in my memory to have a completely new movie experience. Not enough has been done to change the story to warrant a reboot. Still, there’s no crime without punishment, and maybe Spiderman being taken away from Raimi completely was an appropriate punishment for that nerve-shatteringly cringey dance scene… and wink.