OK, let’s get comparisons out of the way. This is the second best Spider-Man film out of the four, with Spider-Man 2 still ranking highest. I really like the previous cast but as my friend remarked, the considerable amount of time devoted to Spider-Man’s origin in this version, really helps to flesh out both Peter and his Uncle Ben to greater depths. Aunt May is decent considering the part she has been written, but you will find yourself thinking affectionately back to Rosemary Harris’s portrayal. I also prefer Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey to Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane. She is the more intelligent and developed character of the two. For whatever reason, I expected them to deal with Peter’s transformation very quickly in this film, instead I got the opposite, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. Just be prepared to spend a lot more time with Peter rather than his alter-ego.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a funny, intelligent, and actually pretty cool teenager, who lives with his aunt and uncle. His search for his missing parents, and by extension himself, leads him to be bitten by a spider, thus becoming Spider-Man. This film is extremely interested in an individual’s origins and how they then shape themselves, and the events around them accordingly. It links back to that theme throughout the film in one form or another, and it is this which suggests to me that Venom, Spider-Man’s dark mirror image, will eventually make an appearance in this series. Mentioning villains, The Lizard is initially a fairly sympathetic character, however he then loses all trace of humanity as the film progresses and our sympathy isn’t engaged enough that we really care beyond wanting to see him, the bad guy defeated. It’s a shame, I was left feeling that more could have been achieved here. Also, there is a crucial moment in Peter’s life which didn’t hold the poignancy and lasting weight that it should have. Anyone who is aware of the story knows what I refer to here. This film does try hard to engage emotions, and it is certainly not a fault in the performances given, but although it often succeeds, there are a few key moments where it doesn’t quite sit right.
This is the kind of film that you would want to see in 3D; it has spectacle and by the nature of the film; 3D worthy action scenes. It doesn’t pander to the phenomenon but it is certainly aware of it, and uses it well in select and deserving moments. It also has a couple of very short shots from Spider-Man’s point of view which are pretty awesome. Initially I thought that I wanted to see more of them, but they do run the risk of becoming a gimmick, and thankfully their rarity avoids that. In addition, the short bursts also tease us so that we can’t really see what it is like to be Spider-Man. Sure, we are all Peter Parker, but the desire is to be the person who can swing around the city, and increasing the number of POV shots would only diminish the inbuilt mystery slightly. Instead we are given glimpses and so want it more.
The film does have some strange pacing issues. Taking character development slowly, which is fine, it did then rush through some key moments which, inevitably jolted me out of the experience. Nevertheless it remains a thoroughly entertaining film and is of a higher quality to the original origins film. The previous film does have the iconic upside-down kiss, and the instantly recognisable score in its favour however, and I am struggling to see any attributes to this film that would be equally long-lasting. Still, it has set up another series nicely, and if this can produce a sequel which improves upon itself as much as the first origins film did, then that would pose a real challenge for the title of the all time greatest Spider-Man film.