“Do you have any idea what you really are?”
In the seemingly constant cliché ridden realm of comic book origin stories, filled with embedded daddy-issue tales, we are set once again on the arduous task of being shocked that a troubled teen such as Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) gets the chance of the century and becomes Spider-Man. To say that I, like many out there in the movie loving world, felt a necessary skepticism going in this film that rivals that of a heckler at a comedy show, as if to say, “make me like you, I dare you,” would be true.
Marc Webb (previously directed (500) Days of Summer), who just happens to have the right name for the job here, does a lot of tinkering to some of the details – i.e. we get a different love interest, a new delivery system for the iconic “power and responsibility are directly related” and somehow Peter Parker is different – in just enough of a way that I have to say that I’m happy with the film.
I’m not sure whether it’s the fact that I was never truly tired of the Spider-Man franchise, and yes I do know that Spider-Man 3 was a major misstep but at the same time I found enough goodness in it at the time that I knew that I wasn’t over with these characters, but somehow going into this movie I was more willing to view this as the part three I really wanted – with some form of time-travel that allowed Peter Parker to be in high school again – weird, huh?.
Every Spider-Man fan on the planet, including Raimi I believe at the time, wanted to finally get a movie with The Lizard as the villain. Now with a reboot the first thing that the studio needed to do to make sure that the film stood out from the rest was not only to appease fans angry at what horrible treatment Venom got but also provide a villain we never got to see before, so the Lizard it is and it is glorious.
What I appreciate with this entry is that Spider-Man, while never devoid of this aspect in the Raimi films, seemed to be a lot more like the Spider-Man I remember as a child watching the TV cartoon from the 90s and reading the comics. There was a sense of dark satirical bordering on teasing nature of his constant need to be funny in the face of his enemy and in every scene where he was slinging building to building. Garfield’s approach to that element of Peter Parker/Spider-Man came off a lot more believable than any attempt that Tobey Maguire made in the three films he did.
Unlike the now seemingly untouchable Dark Knight series of films which seem to always have a thematic thread stretching out over each movie as how they want to test Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man movies, and this one in particular, doesn’t seem to have that ostentatious (in a good way) nature to it. It’s very much a directly set up and well executed superhero movie where a good guy and a bad guy eventually have to face off in order to save the girl, street, town, or even the country (that is if you’re John McClane). It’s fun and offers little to complain about in a way that’s almost ripe for internet gripes, but the truth of the matter is that they’re wrong.
One of the most important things, I think at least, in a truly well put together action film – which this movie is – is for the movie not to slow down long enough for us to have to think about what it really happening. Unlike films like The A-Team and Lockout we are getting more character development than just realizing that this gun is big enough to beat the bad guy at the end, but at the same time Webb’s film definitely adheres to that logic. While being hyper-critical would only ruin the experience the film does enough to assure that the roller coaster ride of seeing someone swing across New York City is fun again.