When I first saw the trailer for the latest Spiderman film, I, along with I assume many others, wondered why so soon? The first Tobey Maguire film only came out ten years ago, and this latest film covers much of the same territory as the earlier one. Are two origin stories in ten years really necessary? I could see an alternate origin story told, say, twenty or thirty years apart, but not ten.
I did like Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. He's appropriately nerdy and awkward but also genuine and sweet. He delivers his lines with a natural purity of expression, pausing at the right moments, smiling a charming smile that I'm sure makes all the girls swoon (he doesn't do much for my wife, though). He makes us believe he is in high school. One small problem I had, though, is that Garfield's body in the Spiderman suit is a bit too lanky. I'm not saying he should be ripped or anything, but Tobey Maguire's body was more believable as a superhero. Emma Stone is also great as Gwen Stacy, even though it's not very believable that she is in high school; she looks much too old. And it's a little odd that she is the head intern at Oscorp--what high school student would be in charge of taking future interns on a tour of a major research and development corporation?
This latest Spiderman film is much less campy or silly; the first really plays up on the corniness of the comic. I found this one much darker--or darker than I remember the first anyway. I think the darkness of the story and the mise en scene is appropriate for the story, though. Spiderman's world is a dark, absurd one, a world that is devoid of meaning. This existential hero is the only figure who can establish order in this meaningless reality. He may still conform to traditional notions of love and relationships--at least to some degree, but he does everything in his own terms. Sartre and Camus and Nietzsche would approve.
One thing I missed from the first film is Spiderman's discovery of his powers. There is this kind of cool scene in this version of Spiderman skateboarding, but I loved the Tobey Maguire scenes where he figures out that he can climb walls and learns how to swing from his webs.
All-in-all it was a fairly entertaining film and I mostly enjoyed it--not exactly a resounding endorsement, though.