Copyright © 2014 by Sony Pictures Entertainment
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is graduating from high school and is torn between his love for Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and the promise he made to George Stacy (Denis Leary) while trying to keep his beloved city safe as Spider-Man. As the relationship heads to a rocky direction, Parker is saddled with Electro (Jamie Foxx), a former employee of OsCorp whose genetics have been altered after a freak accident is now bent on destroying the city with the help of Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan). Parker’s once best friend has returned to Manhattan upon receiving news of his father’s (Chris Cooper) terminal illness. He discovers the same medical condition Norman is suffering from will affect him too once he hits puberty. Desperate for a cure, he seeks for Spider-Man’s blood as the healing properties may be able to reverse his worsening state. Worried that it will be unstable, Parker refuses the request which leads to Osborn’s alliance with Electro and the ensuing massive destruction.
As with all reboots, the decision to start over is always driven by the fact that the last chapter did not fare too well with either the fans, critics or both. After the rather convoluted ‘Spider-Man 3’ bit off more than it could chew, Sam Raimi, director of the original trilogy had intended to move on with part 4 to salvage a less than stellar critical reception before the deal fell through between him and Sony due to the new script unable to progress its story artistically. It is not a roadblock for Sony though to still get another take released before the rights expire and are returned to Marvel.
While the remake of Spidey’s beginnings in Marc Webb’s 2012 version threads similarly to the Tobey Maguire one, what Webb differs in his interpretation is the prominence in both the burglar who murdered Parker’s Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and parents who harbour a dark secret. The unresolved arcs provide for a more gripping watch and add intrigue to a rather well-paced but not necessarily amazing film. With the rate current franchises are heading now, many do not just end in their own universe. They set themselves up for a larger picture or to branch off into other equally interwoven tales via spinoffs and secondary but no less popular characters.
Its follow up jumps right back into what truly happened to Parker’s parents and their association with OsCorp. A rousing start to a tragic end, the film continues at a quicker pace than its predecessor and only slows down for the required character exposition on new foes for our web slinger to battle and his tumultuous romance with Stacy. It is a stroke of genius for the writers to focus on Parker’s love life as it is the strongest element surrounding this new production. Never once a dull moment whenever the two are together; whether it is discussing the future of their relationship or saving the world, their chemistry is so spot-on, it only adds to the disappointment that Stacy is not his eventual other half.
The news of Shailene Woodley hired as Mary Jane Watson in a supporting role but had to be left out for the couple’s scenes to be more believable is a mixed bag. I am definitely all for Stone to carry on with her dominance in Hollywood but it would have been nice to see Woodley in action as the redhead who finally gets to say ‘I do’ to our masked superhero. It can act as a precursor to how she will fare against her blonde counterpart. These are big shoes to fill for a part that was previously written-in only as a means of conflict to the earlier pairing of Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.
For those who are concerned that plotting is cluttered with superfluous extras, fret not, ‘Spider-Man 3’ it is not. Although the marketers will have you believe there are numerous baddies, it is in fact not the case at all. They remain dormant or elusive for most of the film and will only reappear in the coming features. The many unanswered questions will leave some insatiate after 142 minutes of suspending with Spidey, notwithstanding an amazing aerial view of Manhattan. It is frustrating to not obtain a neatly tied up conclusion, but if you are a fan, you will know that the premise here is just a platform to launch for more elaborately constructed schemes and mayhem.
Go in with an open mind and you will find there is still much to love about Webb’s second time direction. The action is serviceable, effects are rendered beautifully and comic timing transitions naturally while your friendly arachnid is out saving the day. It also helps if your appealing leads are all in fine form – DeHaan’s Osborn is cold but approachable and his turn as the Green Goblin needs to be at the forefront in the next round, a much meaner and crazier reincarnation than James Franco’s insecure take.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence