When I was a kid, I had a friend who was so desperate to beat video video games with all his lives intact that irrespective of how far in he obtained, if he “died” even as soon as, he’d hit “reset” and start over. The Wonderful Spider-Man, which takes us back to before the beginning of Peter Parker’s webbed journey, feels a little bit like that. For all its multitudinous flaws, 2007’s Spider-Man 3 was at most a flesh wound, and positively didn’t necessitate a ground-up restart. Nonetheless, that is what we acquired. And whereas the necessity for The Superb Spider-Man’s existence is definitely open to debate, it’s a rewarding and worthwhile journey all the identical, and a promising begin to a brand new sequence.
This wasn’t the unique plan, after all. Whereas Spider-Man three was indeed hobbled by its kitchen sink of a storyline that saw Marvel’s webhead contending with three villains, two love pursuits, and a partridge in a pear tree, it still put enough butts in seats to change into the best grossing entry in the collection globally. Thus, director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire had been webbed back in for a fourth go-round. But when Raimi ran into story issues on the proposed Spider-Man four that threatened to push back his start date, fairly than take the time needed to work by the issues, Sony chose to chop bait and begin over a la Batman Begins (the good-granddaddy in this age of the perpetual reboot).
The whys-and-wherefores of this choice in the end come right down to the omnipresent intersection between artwork and commerce that powers all massive Hollywood productions. The rights arrangement between Marvel and Sony for Spider-Man specifies that to ensure that the the latter to retain their golden spider of a franchise, they should have product in energetic improvement. That implies that any lull within the Spider-Man meeting line doubtless means the character and his ancillary properties snapping again to Marvel (and their homeowners at Disney). And believe me, for as much as Disney would love that, Sony actually would not.
And so, as soon as Raimi threw his palms in the air and told Sony he could not make their 2011 date, they shortly went into Plan B mode, pulling out a Frankensteined-together “again to fundamentals” script by James Vanderbilt, Steve Kloves, and Alvin Sargent that was sitting in a glass field marked “Break in Case of Creative Inertia,” and hiring director Marc Webb, a relative beginner to franchise filmmaking, to put it all together. And similar to that, the Sam Raimi Spider-period was over. Now, figuring out the mercenary nature of this business, I am not often shocked by anything, even chilly rebooting a sequence that’s only a decade old and had a fair amount of success the last time. If anything, that success is precisely why they’re rebooting.
But while most of the story beats are, of necessity, the identical, there’s sufficient totally different to not make the thing fully redundant or perfunctory. ;As embodied by Brit actor Andrew Garfield, the 2012 model Peter Parker is not so much the nebbishy nerd Tobey Maguire played, however more an outcast loner in the James Dean mold (with an aptitude for science that borders on the preternatural). He smolders around Midtown Science High, old-type digital camera round his shoulder, skateboard beneath his arm, quietly pining for brainy beauty Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Issues follow a predictable sample when he wanders into an off-limits science lab and gets bitten by a genetically mutated spider, which finally ends up giving him the proportional yadda-yadda of a spider.
The story this time is basically driven by Parker’s desire to unravel the mystery surrounding his dad and mom’ deaths when he was a child, which leads him to track down his father’s previous colleague Dr. Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans), a genetic researcher who makes a breakthrough because of Peter’s assist that finally ends up reworking him into comic guide villain the Lizard (pity poor Dylan Baker, who did his time in the trenches as Connors in two of the earlier movies with out ever attending to go reptilian). Meanwhile, poor, doomed Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen, pitch good) meets his apportioned fate after an unlucky encounter with a petty thief, prompting Peter to set out searching for the murderer, lastly realizing that… revenge is… good?
Yeah, they by no means truly make clear what Peter learns from Ben’s dying, which is type of an important part of the whole “Spider-Man” thing. I discussed in my retro evaluate of the 2002 Spider-Man that the sequence the place Peter realizes his role within the tragedy is arms down one of the best elements of any superhero flick ever, however while that journey of conscience is woven by this movie, it robs us of that singular “Daaaaaamn!” second where we see the tumblers lock into place for Peter how great energy and nice responsibility go collectively. As an alternative, Pete’s principally a great guy when we first meet him (evidenced by his helping a bullying sufferer), and he’s mainly a good guy when the film ends. On that score, I want the ’02 take.
(Speaking of scores, I additionally choose Danny Elfman’s music over James Horner’s forgettable, by-the-numbers work here. Significantly, I do not suppose a extra hit-or-miss composer is working right this moment.)
However in different ways, the earlier iteration is well outclassed by the new system. For starters, the filmmakers took the reboot alternative to divest Peter of the organic webshooters Raimi had given him, and as a substitute reveal his scientific and mechanical genius by having him design wrist-mounted devices utilizing artificial webs of his personal making. Additionally showing Parker’s skills is the Spider-Man swimsuit itself, which clearly takes inspiration from Christopher Nolan’s actuality-driven take on Batman by foregrounding function over kind, with a texture pattern that makes it appear to be form of a full-physique basketball. I do miss the elegant James Acheson-designed Spider-go well with from the previous sequence, but this one is just advantageous too.
The truth is, the influence of Batman Begins could be felt everywhere in the place, from the casting of so many respected, acquainted faces to fill out the secondary roles (Sheen, Sally Subject as lengthy-suffering Aunt Could, Denis Leary as Gwen’s police captain father), to the cinematography by John Schwartzman that eschews the hyper-actuality of the Raimi films for something a bit extra sedate. This concentrate on practicality also extends to the action sequences, which use man-in-swimsuit each time attainable instead of shifting to a computer-generated cartoon when the combating starts. The results work right here is the very best in the entire run, with the seamless mixing of CGI and sensible as Spidey swings through New York blurring the line between the real and the illusory.
The place The Wonderful Spider-Man unquestionably stands head, shoulders, and part of the chest above its predecessors is the the romance between Peter Parker and his love curiosity, an space the place the earlier series was regularly tripped up. In contrast to the comics, where Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson had been married for fifteen years at the time the primary film came out, having been introduced collectively by a historical past of shared tragedies and triumphs, the film solid Mary Jane as the “girl next door” who Peter had pined for since adolescence. This instantly made the MJ relationship more fantasy-driven, and through three entries we by no means got a compelling purpose for these two people being together aside from that being “the way in which it is.”
What Webb does so effectively is put to full use the abilities he demonstrated quite properly with 2009’s charming (500) Days of Summer season (which really put him on the map) by using Peter and Gwen to paint a believable portrait of younger love in blossom. Helping immensely is that Garfield has such easy chemistry with Stone, who has charm to spare. Seeing the pair come together feels much less like the pre-deliberate dictate of plot mechanics than it does the pure outgrowth of the place their relationship takes them. Also, given that longtime readers know that issues did not finish properly for poor Gwen, there’s an element of tragedy already within the air (although whether or not the filmmakers will choose to follow that thread in a follow-up is obviously up within the air).
None of the above must be taken to imply they skimp on motion or pyrotechnics, by the way. The climax is suitably ‘explodey,’ but with a foundation of character growth to make us truly care about its consequence. I went into The Superb Spider-Man as a hostile witness. I would have been completely satisfied to see them continue the previous sequence fairly than hit “reset” just because they misplaced one life. By the time it ended, although, I was gained over. There are some things Spider-Man did better in ’02, and some The Amazing Spider-Man does higher immediately. Nonetheless, the Spider-Man delusion is extra powerful than any of its individual tellings, and with Andrew Garfield behind the mask, it will probably proceed to spin for a number of years yet.