It's hard to believe it's been ten years since the first Spider-Man movie and just five years since Spider-Man 3. Spidey is back in theaters with the 'untold story' that still feels a little familiar.
Right away you'll notice this is not the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire version. The movie retains the classic elements of Spider-Man yet also throws in some new angles and twists in the story that justifies a reboot.
The untold part of the movie has to deal with Peter Parker's origin.
As seen in the trailers, Peter's parents had to leave while he was a child. This results in Peter being raised by Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Aside from Richard Parker having more in common to the Ultimate Comics version, we get to see more of of the relationship between Peter and his aunt and uncle. There's a trade off because seeing more of the relationship explored means it takes longer for the Spider-Man action to begin. It does build up the characters more even if it doesn't feel absolutely necessary. We need to believe that Peter has a strong connection to Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Seeing their family setting is a treat.
As for Peter Parker, he may be a bit of a social outcast and gets picked on by Flash Thompson but this isn't the Peter Parker we're quite familiar with. If we're going to go back to the beginning and take the time to explore this period, having several scenes take place at Midtown High is something that fans of the comic will appreciate.
Don't expect to see the Peter from the original comics. Andrew Garfield's version of Peter Parker is intelligent but rather than a nerdy suit, he wears a hoodie and is rarely seen without his skateboard. Being smart helps establish a connection with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) as well as Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). This is crucial for the sake of the story's plot.
Emma Stone does a good job on screen and you can feel the chemistry between Gwen and Peter. With the different tweaks in the movie, there were moments where she didn't quite feel like the Gwen I would have expected. Along with other differences that can be deduced from the trailers, this is just another trade off that separates the comic and movie just a bit.
The other major difference is how Peter actually gains his powers. Some elements remain but along with the other tweaks, there is a bigger feeling to it that leads to other questions to be explored later. This could involve a completely separate conversation. For sake of spoilers, we'll table the discussion for now.
Peter's origin and his parents also share a connection to Dr. Curt Connors. Connors was a colleague of Richard Parker. This is one of those moments where the world starts to feel just a little bit smaller with the characters having a connection between each other.
I voiced my concerns with the Lizard being the film's villain and I was hoping to be wrong. I do like the character as one of Spider-Man's villains. Unfortunately there were moments throughout where the character's portrayal and presentation fell short. This isn't exactly the Lizard from the comics. That's okay as the movie already diverges in several areas.
The problem with the Lizard is his motives and scheme. There's also his voice and roar. Neither were quite the hissing sound that I would expect. His head wasn't exactly shaped as I would have wanted it and wearing purple pants and a lab coat all the time might look weird but do we really need a naked Lizard running around (yes, it does make more sense for the movie for the Lizard not to be wearing clothes but...).
The movie does try to give viewers an experience when it comes to Spider-Man on screen. When Spider-Man is swinging around town, it's a spectacular sight. Moments of a first-person perspective are thrown in and while the 3D wasn't absolutely necessary, there were times where it did enhance the viewing. You can almost feel like you are Spider-Man.
Other moments throughout the movie had the typical muddy feel with the glasses making everything darker than intended. Swinging through the night wasn't too much of a problem with all the city lights but many of the daytime scenes suffered from darkened nature of the 3D glasses.
Even though the previous franchise may still be fresh in our minds, there is still plenty of new elements that makes the movie feel different enough to enjoy. With some minor problems, the casting was where the movie shines. You might expect to have a lot of Spider-Man/comic book action but the cast and crew do a great job in making you care about the story.
The addition of Gwen and Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) also separates this movie from the previous. Having them included does bring the story closer to the earlier issues since they were a part of Peter and Spider-Man's life before Mary Jane (in the last trilogy) was.
Overall the movie is enjoyable. It does still feel too soon for an origin. The movie is slight mix of good and bad (we still have too many people becoming aware of Peter Parker's dual identity and he just can't keep the mask on at all times). It is a pretty snazzy presentation. The extended look at Peter's life before he fully becomes Spider-Man adds to the characterization of who he is as well as the relationships he was with the others. It's debatable whether or not we needed a full reboot but the new elements added enhance Peter's back story. Everything doesn't get resolved in a nice neat and tidy manner in this film. The movie easily allows you to sit back and have fun while watching. When you get to the end, you will be immediately thinking about what could happen in the next movie.