(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on 1 July 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/the-novelty-is-worth-it)
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, Martin Sheen
Director: Marc Webb
Rating: 2.5 stars
Confession: I fell asleep during Spiderman 3, and only woke up every now and again to see Tobey Maguire or Eric Forman – wait, he has a real name, Topher Grace – thrashing about in black goo. So I was somewhat relieved when the next edition of the franchise, with a cast makeover, decided to fill me in on what I already presumably knew. They probably wanted to bring the new Spidey up to speed too, you know, so he wouldn’t have to walk – or scamper – in someone else’s pantyhose.
Right, so the latest Peter Parker is Andrew Garfield, of The Social Network fame. And his lady love is Gwen (Emma Stone). They both look lost enough, if not young enough, to be high school students. But, hell, I got through school, college and university watching Aamir Khan study, so I won’t whine about twenty-somethings playing something-teens.
Aunt May (Sally Field) is still raising Parker, Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) is still destined for death, the parental abandonment story is still not as plain and simple as Parker thinks, he still gets bitten by a spider. There is still a briefcase, a villain, and a fight on top of a skyscraper. Parker still sees fit to wear a figure-hugging costume, and hide his now-pretty face (Maguire didn’t do it for me) behind an uggo mask.
Yeah, it’s another origin story, just in case some of us have acquired amnesia over the last decade. Honestly, I’m a little tired of the ritual of Parker showing off, falling in love, getting responsible, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Here, the double-crosser is his father’s former partner, Dr. Connors a.k.a. The Lizard (Rhys Ifans), and he has a slightly more icky, slightly more innovative tale than The Green Goblin. But a scientist who thinks lizard juice will make him spout arms faster than a Hindu God is a littleduh, no?
So, what’s new, aside from the cast and a director whose name begs wordplay? Well, Parker carries around a skateboard, whose symbolic or literal significance I kept waiting for. There’s some innovative perspective – especially if you’re woozy from sleep-deprivation, you feel you’re swinging around the skies of Manhattan, what with the camera getting behind the mask. But, in the end, it’s like watching a slightly more satisfying version of the film we saw ten years ago, one with a better-looking and better-acting cast, aided by better-developed technology. And the untold story that the trailer promised us? I don’t know...I think they forgot to include that, or the editors chopped it off out of spite.
The Verdict: Just another superhero film with an unhealthy dose of lizard-in-a-blender sequences.