I went into the new Spider-man movie with some misgivings, since the reviews I’d seen had been mostly tepid, ranking it below S1 and S2 and just barely above S3. But it’s turned out to be my favourite of the four films.
It’s not without its problems. There’s some clunky wince-inducing dialogue, the Lizard isn’t as compelling a villain as Dr. Octopus was in S2, Captain Stacy’s characterisation is inconsistent (does he seem like the kind of guy who would be neither displeased at finding a boy in his daughter’s room nor suspicious as to how he got in without passing through the rest of the apartment?), and it’s unclear why Parker can hear a bug crawling on the other side of the room but not an enormous humanoid lizard pouncing at him from behind. Plus they still haven’t figured out how to make Aunt May un-boring (but then nobody has really figured that out other than Straczynski during his run on the comic).
But the two leads (both as actors and as characters) are terrific and engaging (and their chemistry more believable than was the case with Maguire and Dunst), the origin story is more interesting (and actually tries hard to make more sense), Spider-man is finally the mouthy smartass he’s supposed to be (while at the same time being more spidery – the scene where he’s literally using a web the way spiders use it is terrific), Parker is smarter and less dorky, Gwen Stacy is far more resourceful than she ever was in the comics, and the film’s energy level is infectious (I was worried about how sleepy I was already feeling during the trailers, but the film quickly woke me up).
And Stan Lee’s cameo is his greatest ever.
Some have complained that in this version Parker has the wrong motivation for becoming Spider-man; but his motivations evolve over the course of the film. (I’m being vague to avoid spoilage.)
I saw it in 3D, just because that’s the version that was available at the time I went, but apart from a couple of scenes I don’t think it’s necessary.
I noticed that some footage included in the various trailers and previews was missing from the film – most notably the scene revealing why Parker prefers the fire escape to the elevator (namely because the security guard in the Stacys’ building insists on looking through visitors’ bags before passing anyone through, and Parker doesn’t want the guard seeing his Spider-togs), and the scene where Parker says football is too dangerous.
A piece of good news: although the film rights to Spider-man are controlled by Sony rather than Marvel, which technically rules out Spider-man’s appearance in the Avengers-line of movies, there’s been increased talk about the possibility of that prohibition’s being relaxed. (If this film and The Avengers do turn out to share a continuity, I’ll bet that this film comes diegetically first. Captain Stacy doesn’t seem as though he’s recently seen an alien army trashing New York.)