Before I headed into the cinema tonight I will freely admit that I wasn’t sure that Spider-Man really needed rebooting yet, after all it was only 5 years ago that we were subjected to Spider-Man 3, which tarnished the legacy of the Sam Raimi/Toby Maguire trilogy by being, frankly, awful and wasting a couple of great villains in a mess of a movie.
So could director Marc Webb and his team, including 28-year-old Andrew Garfield as 17-year-old Peter Parker, add something new to the ‘Spidey-verse’ and bring some life back to the cinematic incarnation of this character?
Well, I’m happy to say, the simple answer is very much yes.
What the team behind this version of your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man has done has taken elements of the original comic, elements of the Ultimate run of the comics and elements of the Sam Raimi movies to create a new version of the characters that is still suitably reverential to the source.
The first thing that the movie does which works very well is introduce the back story of Spidey’s family in a slightly tweaked way which hints at what is to come before fast forwarding to Peter Parker as the geeky teenager he was always meant to be.
It’s here that Garfield really steals show as, despite being more than 10 years older than Peter, he is genuinely convincing as the teenager and I think this is where the film really works best, as it gives the whole thing a heart that is very much-needed and is a strong part of the Spider-Man comic books.
Accompanied by Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey, delivering an equally spot on performance, they form an emotional heart to the story which works much better than the Peter Parker/Mary-Jane Watson relationship ever did in Sam Raimi’s film which, by the end, is near heartbreaking – especially for a formerly teenage geek like me.
Away from the emotional bits the film delivers big on the action too with The Lizard (aka Dr Curt Conners), as played by Rhys Ifans, working as a surprisingly effective villain who is given a few nice touches of a fabulously crazy split personality and a largely inexplicable, but perfectly suitable, underground lair.
As the film moves on and the action set pieces become the main thing, there was only one moment where it seemed to fall into CGI things hitting each other, but this was soon brought back down to earth and it never sinks as low as the likes of Transformers as all the set up (which does take quite a while) gives the fight scenes a sense of fear and emotion for Peter, Gwen and Dr Connors alongside the spectacle of Spidey vs The Lizard.
With supporting performances from Martin Sheen and Sally Field that really ground Peter Parker/Spider-Man in a family unit it makes for the best adaptation of the Spidey story on-screen yet and, with a sequel inevitably in the works, I hope they can keep up the balance between the Peter/Gwen relationship and the Spidey/villain events as well as they have here.
(Seeing Willem Defoe back as Green Goblin without the pointless helmet would make the sequel pretty much perfect too, but I think that might be wishful thinking on my part).