Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2012. , Marvel Entertainment, Story by James Vanderbilt, Screenplay by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves, based on the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko. Cinematography by John Schwartzman. Produced by Avi Arad, Matthew Tolmach, Laura Ziskin. Music by James Horner. Production Design by J. Michael Riva. Costume Design by Kym Barrett. Film Editing by Alan Edward Bell, Michael McCusker, Pietro Scalia.
Deja vu is a disconcerting feeling in this reboot of the superhero franchise, a mere decade after it was originally launched by Sam Raimi with Tobey Maguire in the lead; here we follow the same plot (more or less) with the same goal of setting Peter Parker up in his new role as the heroic Spider-Man. The good news is that Marc Webb’s adventure is definitely an improvement, with a lot of the turgid, emotional fat cut off and the action pumped up without sacrificing the emotional poignancy of the character’s origins. Andrew Garfield is fully amiable as the young high schooler who gets pushed around by bullies and has a crush on science geek Emma Stone. When a visit to the big scientific facility where she interns goes awry and Garfield accidentally steps into an experiment room featuring radioactive spiders, he immediately finds himself with the ability to walk up walls, leap long distances and shoot super strong webbing from his body (which is great, because everyone else exposed to that level of toxicity would probably get cancer). This doesn’t mean, however, that he doesn’t still have to answer to his concerned aunt (Sally Field) and uncle (Martin Sheen) who worry endlessly about him in the decades since they inherited him from his now-missing parents. Thankfully, our young hero’s newfound skills coincide with the rise of a mad scientist (Rhys Ifans) who is using genetic splicing technology to fuse lizards with humans for the purposes of limb replacement technology but ends up making himself an insane (though, quite frankly, mundane) villain. It has a light heart and a fleeted foot, it moves gracefully and with a sense of fun; the film is a great antidote to those who are turned off by Christopher Nolan’s self-important Batman films, boosted by some beautiful visuals (including gorgeous cityscapes that he flies through) and some delicious chemistry between the romantic leads.