*. Spider-Man has always been one of the most popular of the Marvel comics superheroes, and perhaps their most iconic. No surprise then that as the Marvel franchise saturated the movie market in the early twenty-first century Spidey would become a franchise in himself, swinging his way through more movies in these years than I can count.
*. Director Marc Webb: “it was a pretty quick reboot, I’ll admit that.” Meaning the turnaround from Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, which wound up in 2007, to the reboot only five years later with this launch of a new (projected) trilogy starring Andrew Garfield. You wouldn’t think a franchise needed a reboot every five years, but for a property like this why sit back and count your money when you can be out making more?
*. Because it’s a reboot this is yet another origin story, which is unfortunate given that origin stories are the least interesting part of any superhero franchise. Compounding things here, Webb thought of this film as not so much the origin of Spider-Man as the origin of Peter Parker, introducing the idea that the movie will be all about him finding out who he is. This is pretty ho-hum stuff, and luckily I didn’t see a lot of it going on in the movie. Maybe they were going to do more with his parents later in the trilogy, but seeing as they stalled out after two movies we may never know.
*. The villain of the piece is Dr. Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans). He’s missing an arm and so wants to gene splice himself with a lizard to grow a new one. Which turns him into the Lizard. It’s all pretty dumb stuff, and even though I know it’s a comic-book movie I was frustrated that I didn’t understand what he was trying to achieve in turning everyone in New York into giant lizard people. Because this is the next step of evolution? Because it will correct for any imperfections in our species? Somehow a city of lizard people doesn’t seem worth it.
*. Garfield is fine as Peter Parker, sporting some truly crazy hair, but he doesn’t seem quite the thing. Sort of like George Lazenby playing Bond. He’s no Tobey Maguire anyway. But I guess Maguire couldn’t stay young forever. Or could he? He’s there with Elijah Wood and Daniel Radcliffe as one of those perpetual young people.
*. Emma Stone is girlfriend Gwen Stacy, and of course she’s brainy and helpful too because this was 2012 and they had to give her something to do. Denis Leary seemed miscast to me as her father, the chief of police. Sally Field and Martin Sheen are America’s Mom and Dad. They’re good for producing the sort of canned moral precepts that these movies seem to feel are obligatory. Don’t tell lies, do the right thing, be true to yourself. That sort of stuff.
*. After his first fight with the Lizard, Spider-Man goes to Gwen’s place (he’d revealed his identity to her right away) so he can recover. She frets about her poor wounded boyfriend and he remarks “You should see the other guy.” Which is the cool thing to say to your girlfriend, but it made me laugh. You mean the other guy who just kicked your ass and that you barely escaped from? I’d say he’s feeling pretty good right now. This is the one scene in the movie that I honestly enjoyed.
*. Otherwise: standard comic-book stuff. Lots of CGI, most of it pretty good. The usual plot, complete with a bomb about to go off and a countdown and a climax at the top of a tower. Instantly forgettable, but it made a lot of money so they were able to roll out a sequel that didn’t do as well. After which the trilogy died and things had to get rebooted yet again.