I was looking forward to this film. I honestly was. I love a high-budget superhero flick as much as anyone. Even with the fact that this one is a reboot of a franchise that began only 10 years ago.
Unfortunately, the final product proved a reboot was not only unnecessary, it was a terrible idea. Nearly everything about this film was bad...from the story, to the script, to the casting...as happens so often, the visual effects were the best thing about this film, and they weren't exactly groundbreaking.
From frame one this film just felt off. The opening music didn't seem to fit, and I actually thought I was hearing the wrong audio. The opening scene was just odd...and funnily enough, is never even explained throughout the film. And honestly, that's basically the feel of the entire movie. Just, off.
Andrew Garfield is a decent enough Peter Parker, but he comes off as more of a hipster instead of the nerd he's supposed to be. (I actually think that's more the fault of the script than the actor's interpretation of the character.) Emma Stone is good enough as Gwen Stacy, I suppose...but, for one thing I personally don't think she's pretty enough...not only to be the hot blonde from the comics, but also to even be a leading lady. And there's just something about her that rubs me the wrong way. But again, that's all personal taste, so I suppose I can't hold it against the movie itself. Of course Denis Leary plays the no nonsense cop just fine. And Martin Sheen and Sally Field always do a fine job, but Field is just not what I picture when I think of Aunt May. Neither came off as very convincing. Rhys Ifans was an odd choice for Dr. Conners, and also was at least a minor disappointment.
All in all, I can see that they were going more for an "unknown" main cast, but I think it left a lot to be desired.
This was just ridiculous. The opening scene of Peter's childhood makes no sense, and as mentioned earlier, is never even explained. The character development is very poorly done, and so often the characters just don't come off right. Flash Thompson starts off bullying Peter (as expected), but after Uncle Ben dies, we get a completely useless scene in which the whole school seems sympathetic to Peter, and Flash seemingly comes up to console him? Not only could the entire scene have been left on the cutting room floor from just an importance-to-the-story standpoint, it should have been left out if for no other reason than it didn't even make sense for the character.
And as if that wasn't bad enough, by the end of the film, he's actually buddying up to Peter? WTF?
Also odd is the way Spider-Man comes off as less of the snarky intelligent hero that tries to do the right thing, and more of just a simple jerk. The best example is in one encounter with a car thief: Spidey webs him to a wall and proceeds to toy with him in a humiliating way, feigning fear and then laughing at how easy it is to defeat him. It's just not Spider-Man.
Spidey also seems way too willing to expose his identity...web-slinging around multiple times without even his costume, let alone his mask...voluntarily taking off his mask multiple times, and even revealing his identity to Gwen, essentially for no reason.
Something else bothersome was the odd display of Peter's abilities. He's so strong he regularly breaks metal objects just through normal use, yet he can't even leap over a normal height chain-link fence, or from one rooftop to another without having to grab the ledge and lift himself up to the second roof. He even runs through the streets instead of jumping to a nearby building and web slinging from there.
This only added to the overall weirdness. So much of the dialog just felt odd and out of place. For example, when Peter comes to see Gwen after being injured, and they begin to kiss, she stops him, saying she can't...and then proceeds to tell him how since she was young her father always put on a badge in the morning and went to work, and she never knew if he would come back alive. Wha?
The inspiration for the Spider-Man suit is never explained. Peter gets the idea for the mask from a lucha libre poster...but for the suit itself, all we see is Peter searching Bing (shameless product placement, of course) for images of Olympic athletes, saying "all spandex". Okaaaay.
It's also a bit lame the way multiple scenes seem to be replayed. Peter gets into a confrontation with Flash several times. He comes home with bruises that Aunt May notices, and which he won't explain to her several times. So much could have been cut out, or at least written in a more fresh way, so that the audience didn't have to basically relive the same sequences over and over again.
And three words: Peter Parker skateboarding. Seriously?
Overall this film was barely differentiable from the original in terms of visual effects. In terms of everything else, it was a total disappointment, and the original was far superior. In Spider-Man (2002), the characters were more believable, more true to the comic, and better cast. They were more interesting, better developed, and given better things to say. The story made more sense, had better flow, and was better told. That's why over a decade later, it is still the 37th highest grossing film of all time (even without accounting for inflation), and this reboot is barely in the top 50.
This second incarnation just felt like a movie. I was never really pulled into the story...throughout the entire film, I was almost always aware I was watching actors play roles.
I honestly feel like I need to go watch the original series again (or at least the first two) just to get this bad impression out of my mind.
Obviously with a $230 million budget and a top-tier superhero franchise, you're pretty much guaranteed something that is at least visually entertaining...but there were actually several times during this film that I was tempted (and would have been just fine with) turning it off.