There’s a big problem with all the different continuities of comic book stories; it’s a chore to keep track of which version of a given hero you’re talking about. That’s been less of a problem with the current Marvel superhero movies, because there has only been one series for each hero… but that comes with two notable exceptions. The Hulk storyline has been rebooted once and had an actor swap twice, and now Spiderman has been rebooted and given an actor swap. I enjoyed the first Spiderman movie with Tobey Maguire (it was also the only one that I saw) and so I’d ignored the new one. But with a second new Spiderman movie coming out, I thought I should take a look.
If anything, I think I liked this new Spiderman more. As my friend pointed out to me, new Peter Parker (played by Andrew Garfield) isn’t as convincingly a picked-on nerd as old Peter Parker was. But he makes a far more convincing chatty Spiderman, something I always cherished when I first read the comics at the age of seven, and the way that he chokes out his newly picked name when asked who he is is just perfect. As an added plus, I’m glad that they went back to his original external web projectors rather than having them be a natural element of his transformation. I also think Garfield makes a much better version of Peter Parker as an outgoing and snarky-ish photographer. If that’s the direction that they want to take Parker from the very beginning of this reboot I’m willing to see where it goes, even if it means glossing over some of Parker’s original role as a nebbish geek. It’s not like we saw much of that in the first Spiderman movie anyway, is it? I’ve mostly forgotten by this point, so I’m not especially worried about it.
More thoughts after the break.
Ok, I’m not even going to bother delineating these points. Everything that follows is a jumble of impressions and full of *SPOILERS*
The opening scenes don’t make much sense to me, other than as a collection of jumbled memories that Peter holds onto as he grows up. The hide-and-seek game doesn’t seem to offer much apart from letting us see that there is clearly a secret being hidden, and I wonder whether there might have been a better way of handling it. On top of that, we’re given almost no sense of Peter’s father and no sense of his mother at all. Why would they both run away together if they knew that they were in trouble / had to flee? Peter’s mom is never mentioned as being affiliated with Oscorp in any way, and I have no idea why she didn’t stay to help raise Peter with his aunt and uncle instead of disappearing. I don’t have the sense that I’m going to learn anything more about that either, because as far as I can tell she simply fulfills the role of throw-away mom. The only time we have a chance to connect with her is when she cries while talking about the sandwiches that Peter likes. On the plus side, Martin Sheen and Sally Field make a comfortable Uncle Ben and Aunt May. They’re solid supporting characters, and good fun to watch.
I really loved the scene in which Peter made an honest-to-goodness spiderweb in order to alert himself to any movement in the sewers, and having him lounge on the web while playing games on his phone was perfectly appropriate. In fact, I rather liked most of the scenes of the movie. They offered a decently cohesive narrative arc, and established everything necessary for the joke of the final scene of the movie, talking about the only true form of narrative arcs. It helped that I rather liked Curtis Connors, even if he did lapse into unreasoningly villainous megalomania for a little while there. Apart from those strangely addled moments, I thought he made a nicely sympathetic villain.
All in all, I have to say that I’m excited to see the next movie in the series. I won’t go so far as to say that the movie was excellent, but it was certainly a solid reboot after the decline of the first series (I don’t need to watch the whole movie to know that dancing Trent Reznor Spiderman is ridiculous). I hope that Amazing Spiderman 2 manages to build on the success of the first and really deliver.