I have to admit I'm not a big fan of what Sam Raimi did for the character. I love Raimi, don't get me wrong (Army of Darkness is one of my all-time favorites) but those movies were just not good. Aside form the second, which still turned the villain into a "victim" when he should've been a straight-up bad motherf***er. The faults are too many to list, so let's keep it at not good.
Enter Marc Webb, a newbie who's one and only other directorial film credit rested on the amazing chemistry between Zooey Deschannel and Joseph Gordon Levitt. Was he the right man for the job? I said so loudly back when, and I feel I was quite right by now. For he made a film that's entertaining AND good AND fresh to watch despite 50 year-old source materials and four sizable stumbling blocks: it's way too soon for a reboot, the summer is already being pilfered by two other HUGE superhero movies, people are getting fed-up with superhero origins stories and the one with a bad case of Topher Grace gave us all spidey fatigue. Those things are still true when watching the film, but I dare say I liked it a LOT, much more than the previous franchise anyway.
"Watch out for that tree...."
First off Andrew Garfield, even at 28, plays a way better teenager -AND Peter Parker- than Maguire ever could (or was allowed to). And thus HIS Spiderman makes sense; he has the posture, the demeanor and the hairdo (...) of a true angst-ridden, hormonal teenager. This one is truly the diffident smart-ass that Peter/Spidey should be, which makes sense when he starts shooting his mouth off at criminals behind the mask. Mechanical webslingers? YES, finally, someone gets it, this kid's a genius trapped in an awkward body. A brainy girlfriend? YES, finally, Kirsten Dunst's sleepy damsel in perpetual distress was really getting on my nerves.
The rest of the cast is just as brilliant as it sounds on paper, in particular Uncle Ben and Aunt May, who both never felt so realistic and grounded. Martin Sheen is especially such a commanding presence, even when playing a blue collar worker, that you actually wish Uncle Ben wouldn't buy it just yet, at least not in this movie. And I strongly feel Sheen could not have been paired up with someone stronger than Sally Field to play his over-caring wife. My only disappointment is Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy. I was really hoping he'd go all Tommy Gavin on Spidey's a**, but saddly the man who mimicks Bill Hicks tones it down -WAY down- to a point where is role is almost generic. Meatier than what James Cromwell was given to play last time around, but still disappointed.
"Show me all the data you want, costumes DON'T HAVE NIPPLES, period".
As for the story, it does feel at times like Webb is deliberately trying to steer clear of what Raimi did, but overall it does work a lot better too, especially when concentrating Peter's story toward the mystery of his parent's death which never was even hinted in the previous films. If not for comic fans, at least for general movie goers it does freshen up the character and offers a renewed interest in seeing 2 more of those. Combined with a grittier tone and an..."amazing" attention to details (like the explosion-like discharge from the webshooters) and it's a film that truly has its place among the top blockbusters of the summer. I just wish this version had been the first to come along, so that this reboot wouldn't feel like a precipitated attempt at striking a little more while the iron is hot.
Final Word: 8.5/10