Here’s a cool idea for a movie: Teenage dweeb Peter Parker weathers the taunts and pokes of high-school bullies until one day he’s bitten by some kind of magical spider and starts shooting sticky webs out of his hands and scampering up walls and…
Oh, wait—we’ve already seen this movie. Ten years ago, in Sam Raimi’s opening installment of the first Spider-Man series. Which wobbled to an end just five years ago. Do we really need to sit through this story all over again? Sony and Marvel Enterprises are hoping so—they’ve sunk an estimated $215-million into “rebooting” the familiar superhero saga. If only they’d invested in some new ideas as well.
The movie—which among other things wastes the gifts of Marc Webb, who directed the wonderful, low-budget (500) Days of Summer—is defined by its shortcomings. The first, and most dispiriting, is its star, Andrew Garfield. This young English actor has been precociously resourceful in some very different films—playing a doomed clone in the dystopian Never Let Me Go and the betrayed Facebook cofounder in The Social Network. He was also a powerful presence opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman in the recent Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman. Garfield is a meticulously expressive performer, projecting thought and emotion with the subtlest glances and gestures. As Peter Parker, though, he’s stranded, bringing his gifts to bear on a character who has practically nothing to express beyond a generalized glumness. This is not much fun to watch.
Full review here.