I got sneak preview tickets - it's clear Sony is working triple time to get this film to deliver Avengers-like business.
So is this a bitch-slap to the Spider-verse and an ultimate epic fail of an effort? Or did this disaster-in-waiting end up being pretty great forcing CoGro to eat his words once again?
Answer: it's not a train-wreck movie and it some stuff right. It's also a completely needless reboot that is, almost embarrassingly, pretty boring for long periods. It just stinks so strongly of "been there, done that." The origin story is literally twice as long as it was in Raimi's 2002 film and there's not even close to enough new or interesting material to validate starting from scratch.
As a reboot, this is an epic fail. The changes they did make to the origin story are tacky and stupid. The film also feel pretty soulless, which is probably a result of its terrible script and the fact that this movie could not be more wrong tonally.
EDIT: The more I think about it, the worse the movie gets. The script abandoning plot points midway, the tone... just way off. The acting is mostly strong - especially from the leads - but there's just this imbalance to the entire show that made me not care as much as I should have.
What went right?
For starters, the Spidey-Swinging scenes - particularly the end swing - are tremendous and exhilarating. More a product of time and technology than anything directorial, but it's pretty fantastic. Some of the action scenes are also visually cool, although they all lack suspense and feel pretty dry. Think Incredible Hulk-type action scenes and you'll know what I mean.
The Gwen / Peter / Captain Stacy dynamic is pitch perfect even though there's not enough Gwen / Spider-man / Peter action going on. If Raimi's film had sex with this one, we'd get the perfect Spider-Man 1.
• Garfield v. Tobey? Garfield's Peter is much more bratty and harder to get behind as a hero. Garfield comes off more genuinely like a troubled high schooler confused about how to handle this new life that's handed to him. I can make an argument for either - wash.
• Much preferred Raimi's Uncle Ben / Aunt May and the origin story overall.
• Connors' arc is rushed and the suddenness of his transformation from murderous villain to remorseful / tragic character at the end came off a bit silly. The Oscorp connection was also tacky.
• Lizard's CGI isn't terrible. Minus the poor design, he moves as I'd imagine him to.
• Spidey's costume is so stupid.
• Garfield as Spidey (in the suit) comes off clumsy as doesn't match the acrobatic CGI model at all. It didn't feel right at all.
• EDIT: Spidey does not crack wise in this movie. It's not at all funny or playful, but awkward. The cadence is off and Garfield cannot pull off witty banter. He simply comes off ilke a guy trying to egg on a fight. Maguire did a way better job here even if he wasn't always given the best material.
When I think back to Spider-man 2002, what once was (and still is) a great quip by Spider-man during the cage fight ("that's a nice outfit; did your husband give it to you?") would never be written into a movie these days. Webb's Spider-man also doesn't talk to himself, nor do we get the internal thoughts, which is a Spidey staple.
• I thought it was a weak score at the time, but Elfman's Spider-man music is far, far and away a better fit for the character. Horner's is invisible and the opposite of heroic.
• I'd venture to guess it's Norman who talks with Connors at the mid-credits sequence - which is a useless 10 second scene.
Conclusion: Raimi's origin got more right than Webb's. I wish Raimi's film was called "The Amazing Spider-man" because I just love the idea of naming Marvel properties by the comic titles. The charm, the style, the casting (at least JJJ, Osborn, Harry, etc) the narration, the observance to comic lore...it all wins out even though "Amazing" has a note perfect Gwen Stacy and a more acrobatic CGI Spider-man.
Might be one of the most useless reboots / misguided productions of all time.