After his house in broken into and ransacked, Robert Parker and his wife Mary drop their young son Peter off at his brother's and die mysteriously in a plane crash soon thereafter. As an awkward and brooding teenager, Peter discovers a briefcase with a hidden compartment that may carry the secrets of his parent's death and leads him to Oscorp Industries, the laconic, one-armed Dr. Curtis Connors, and his ultimate destiny as his web slinging alter ego. Fairly quickly on the heels on the last entry, Spider-Man gets a complete reboot, which may at first appear superfluous, but is carried out with such aplomb and improves over the Sam Raimi movies in almost every single regard. Andrew Garfield, who made waves a couple years ago in a succession of films ("The Social Network", "The Red Riding Trilogy", "Never Let Me Go") is a marked improvement over Toby Maguire, and makes a darker and more heedless hero instead of simply just being gawky. Emma Stone is lovely as the love interest Gwen Stacey, and suceeds in being so much more than a damsel in distress. The remainder is an exercise in intuitive casting: Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt Mae, Denis Leary as Stacey's father and NYC police commander, and Rhys Ifans injecting something deeper than we've come to expect in his role as the villain. If the casting was fortuitous, I would have to say the same about the decision to hire director Marc Webb (pun?) who had an unexpected success with the delightful and offbeat "(500) Days of Summer". Here not only do the technical elements look spectacular (I even enjoyed the 3D), but the romance elements are wonderful and genuine also. Credit should also be due to the screenwriting team which includes James Vanderbilt ("Zodiac"), Steve Kloves (Harry Potter), and veteran penner Alvin Sargent ("Paper Moon", "Ordinary People"). There are retreading moments that make the film seem a little unnecessary (i.e. Uncle Ben's death), but all in all I was surprised by how taken I was with a film whose well I supposed had run dry.
Random thought: I wonder if Webb is going to try to rival the great Billy Wilder for the number of great last lines. Following "Summer", this also has a good one.