With Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and nearly a decade’s worth of improvement in CGI not available to Director Sam Raimi’s commendable protrayal of the web-chucking human-limbed friendly neighbourhood arachnid; I was looking forward to Mark Webb’s retelling of Spiderman’s origins.
Sadly, as the film progressed I was becoming simultaneously bored and making increasingly louder requests for a giant boot to descend from the sky and splatter Peter Parker into a twitching smudge all across the pavement. Every time he swung from his web I hoped it would snap and he’d come tumbling into oncoming traffic. Something I should not be wishing upon a hero protagonist of a story. Why was this the case?
As I came away from the film, musing over why I found Peter Parker so punchable, I realised that throughout the majority of the film he is portrayed as a writhing, seething mesh of angst and stubborness. I understand that the idea was to make it much darker and brooding so that we can empathise with a lad struggling to wrestle with the disappearance of his parents and the shooting of his uncle but it doesn’t end up being the case. He just comes across as whiny and obstinate; you can be forgiven for assuming that he rushes in from his hard day of being a reject to run upstairs to post depressing song lyrics on his facebook account.
Even with this irritation ignored, the rest of the film is not particularly impressive. There are various intense scenes of fairly decent CGI farted into your eyes as Spidergit tackles Dr Connors down in the sewers. We’re greeted with the ‘wimp beating the bully’ storyline and there’s a strained attempt at a love story between Parker and Gwen Stacy (played by the illegally attractive Emma Stone) but the plot doesn’t really know where it’s going. Is Parker looking for his parents? Is he looking for revenge of his uncle’s killer? Saving the city? It appears as if a discarded template of what is needed in a spiderman origins story was accidently ripped up and then hastily stuck back together with pritt stick.
There is one scene in particular which is so cringeworthy that you almost wince yourself inside out. Spiderprat needs to save the day, but he’s too far away and his little arms can’t swing through the street fast enough. Thankfully the father of the son he saved earlier in the film is watching this on his portable television. The father utters to himself “he saved my boy” – just in case the audience misunderstood or forgot the reason for the mans sudden burst of altruism. So spurned is he, and being a blokey craneworker that knows when to do right, he rings up his craneworking buddies (who were probably at the pub having a well-earned pint) to don their helmets and get their cranes arranged like giant monkey bars for Spiderman to swing to victory.
It was an uneasy watch. How can a film attempt to be dark and broody but then shoehorn in Hollywood tosh like that?
All in all, the film was a bit of a disappointment and begs a big question. Why can’t we have a film about a matured spiderman? There are swathes of comics of spiderman in his later years. Why are we currently stuck with the impression that he needs to be a weedy, barely-reached-it-past-puberty teenager? Maybe that could be a challenge for the next director in a decades time who wishes to attempt another remake.
Out in cinema everywhere.