A film that is better than expected, proving that reboots can and do work.
In 2008 after the critical flop that was Spiderman 3, the film makers were divided on how to amp up the franchise. Sam Raimi had certain ideas he wanted to utilize, the studio others. When these ideas were found to be incompatible with each other the sequel was dropped, with the sole aim to produce a reboot of the characters. This caused many disputes with fans of the comics and movies, many believing it was two quick a thing to attempt. However, the production was still pushed forward; a new director was found (in the shape of Marc Webb) and new leads were found for the roles of both Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy (played by Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone respectively) along with many other cast roles. The film was to take Peter to a different place, one when he was younger and more to the comics take on the character. The villain was decided upon to be Dr.Curt Connors/ AKA the Lizard with a release of summer 2012- that release is now finally here. What makes this reboot work is the fact that the filmmakers have used the parts of the original trilogy that worked, but played them in with new aspects that make it feel constantly fresh. In short, making the reboot worth the admission fee.
Starting with a flash back to a young Peter playing a innocent game of hide and seek, the narrative quickly shifts to a him being shifted off to his Aunt and Uncle as his parents flee from a break-in. The action then moves forward a fair few years to a teenage Peter both discovering himself as well as finding out about the shady past that his parents had, through the help of his dad's old science partner and friend Dr.Curt Connors. Reverting back to a more basic origin story, Peter is still the same geeky student that is bullied at school and in love with a young starlet who at first is way out of his league. However, when exploring his parents past and a chance encounter with a super engineered spider, Peter is accidentally bitten leading to the gaining of super powers- all very deja vu. The main difference with this opening to that of the original is the fact that more emotional choices are thrust in to Peters path. His powers are first found by accident and the audience learn these powers as Peter does, another better way of showing the characters development.
When a scientific formula is created that Dr Curt Connors believes will create a new way of living for those who have lost limbs, he decides to inject it into himself. What actually happens however is that the formula has a major side effect, in the shape of a transformation into a giant rampaging lizard. Unable to control this transformation, the Lizard starts terrorizing the streets of New York in hopes of creating a race of humans that hold no known weakness. It is therefore, up to Peter/Spiderman to stop this beast before all those he holds dear are killed. This is what makes up the majority of the films narrative, with side plots given over to the love relationship of Peter and Gwen and both the relationship Spiderman has to her police captain father and the seeking of revenge both too his uncles killer but also the person who has bullied him throughout his schooling. An ongoing factor, to note also, is the constant feeling that Peter is getting close to finding out about his parents path, what they did and why they were hunted. It is a nice plot that has enough interlocking factors that throughout the film it is highly entertaining and completely exhilarating. It seems that by sticking more closely to the original comic source material and not adapting a story directly for the median of film, has helped this production become more than just another superhero flick.
As with all superhero movies it is apparent through watching this film that the special effects are of the highest quality. The street swinging sequences have never been better, they are exciting to watch and also show that Peters powers are extremely special. The transformation of the Lizard is also developed to a very high quality and although the fact that he no longer has a snout will annoy many die hards, the look and feel of him allows the audience to remember that he is still Curt Connors, only trapped in a foreign body. The decision to rely on motion capture instead of 100% CGI makes this monster feel more real than the other villains that were featured in the original trilogy, maybe not DR Octopus (portrayed expertly by Alfred Molina in Spider-man 2). Through developing him this way he has feeling and emotion and as such, the audience is still expected to feel for the character.
With cameo appearances in all Marvel movies, Stan Lee also gains one in this movie. His scene is cleverly played with and could possibly be the best one yet. With the real life relationship of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, the on screen chemistry of the characters is never put into question. You believe they are together for the right reason and just because they are. This allows Peters world to appear fragile and organic to the one that we all live in, in a way concreting it more with the viewer. Another achievement from the creative team. For those who are watching the film soon, stick through the credits to get a easter egg scene, hinting at a possible sequel. Exciting indeed.
Was the reboot necessary? Not really. But did it work? Definitely. Stripping back the characters to their simplest incarnations allows all focus to be on the narrative and relationships that the characters share with one another. With high polished acting from all principle cast, an engrossing and strong narrative throughout, and top quality special effects, this film is able to deliver all. For fans of the source material, superhero movies, or those who just want to watch a decent film, then this is the film for you. Better than expected proving that reboots can and do work.