I know that the general response to the idea of this reboot was that it was far too early. Raimi finished up his trilogy in, what, 2007? That wasn’t too long ago. Could the appropriately named Marc Webb really have anything new to add?
Well, yeah, as it turns out. This is a darker take on the Spider-man mythos, with the new Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) dealing with the angst of his parents’ disappearance, which may or may not have been because Richard Parker came up with a formula for combining animal and human DNA. Peter’s problems at school are a little more tense than the single fight scene Toby Maguire had in the first film. And Peter’s new love interest, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is far more interesting than Kirsten Dunst’s MJ.
The romantic aspect is the biggest surprise for me. Gone is the one character pining for the other (and then reversing that for the sequel). Both of these kids are really into each other, which makes for scenes which are still somewhat awkward, but far less cringe-inducing.
The villain this time around is Curt Connors (teased in the Raimi trilogy, but never actually used), a genetic scientist who is missing an arm and wants to grow it back. What better way than to infuse himself with lizard DNA! Actually, the story is a bit more complex, with references to Normal Osborne (not seen in the film, though we know he’ll be showing up as the Green Goblin eventually).
Personally, even though it’s not consistent with the comics, I always prefered Spidey’s organic webs from the Raimi trilogy. This time around, he has mechanical webslinging devices. (Which, to me, would make it super-easy to track down Spider-man’s alias, since he’s leaving all these Oscorp webs lying around everywhere.)
I won’t spoil any of the major beats of the story. Suffice to say that the writers are fully aware of the cinematic history of the character, and throw us a few curveballs, which is nice.
Overall, I really thought the film was great, maybe even better than Raimi’s first.
Also, I wanted to point out some fun Emma Stone casting connections:
She is romantically involved with Andrew Garfield’s character in this film. She’s romantically involved with Jesse Eisenberg’s character in Zombieland. Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg are (practically) romantically involved in The Social Network.
She plays a mentee of Curt Connors in this film. She plays the daughter of Dylan Baker’s character in the short-lived TV show Drive. Dylan Baker played Curt Connors in the Raimi trilogy.
Cooincidence?! Well, yeah, but it’s still fun.