Take a guess at what I saw last night at a sneak preview? Yup. This was an IMAX showing. I'm going to try and keep things as spoiler free as possible, but I am also going to talk about the Spider-Man origin story as if everyone reading this already knows it (especially since Raimi went over this in 2002, but it gets rehashed again in this movie).
To start with, the origin story is changed a little with the addition of Peter's parents, and how Peter's father worked for Oscorp. Peter's parents went on the run, leaving him with Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Ben is played very well by Martin Sheen, but Sally Fields looked at times lost as to what role she was playing as Aunt May. To say she was miscast is an understatement.
This version of Peter Parker finds him to be an 'edgy', brooding skateboarder who you get the feeling doesn't exactly do well in school. When he finds a bag belonging to his father in the basement, his brooding becomes a tantrum about his parents. This Peter gets into Oscorp by pretending to be someone else (screwing that person in the process, which we're supposed to find funny), and then breaking into a 'high security' lab. Now I say 'high security' because even though every employee is issued a magnetically striped key card, the labs with the sensitive experiments are guarded by a touchscreen with a pattern recognition lock. Much like you'd find on a smart phone or tablet. So greasy fingers would show you the simple pattern needed to unlock the door.
Now comes the part that really didn't irk me until I thought about it later, how Spidey gets his powers. We all know that Peter gets bitten by a spider and gains his powers, and that the spider died after biting him. Well, what if there were a whole room filled with dozens of these very same spiders? Spidey wouldn't be so special now, would he since pretty much anyone could gain those powers by wandering into the poorly secured room and getting bitten.
Moving on...now that Peter finally has his powers, again, he gives Dr. Conners (who worked with his father at Oscorp) a formula that his father wrote and had hidden in the bag in the basement. So supposedly this smart kid, who reads everything Dr. Conners has written over the last 15 years, and in those writings mentions numerous times the equation needed (by name) to complete his life work, which was hidden in the basement, hands over the equation to Conners. No questions asked. Seriously, I thought I was watching Episode three of Star Wars all over again where Anakin turns to the Darkside for no good reason whatsoever.
Not to mention that this kid with a supposedly moral upbringing, uses his new powers to get revenge on the school bully. This gets him community service and a stern talking to (which he immediately brushes off and ignores) by his Uncle. He then just seems to brush off all his responsibilities to hang with a guy his father kept secrets from and whom he doesn't know. Again, common sense in the script is ignored.
Uncle Ben finally kicks the bucket (changed a little from both the book and the first movie), so what does Peter do? You guessed it, he leaves his newly widowed Aunt to fend for herself while he goes out night after night looking for Ben's killer. There's no comfort or sympathy from Peter to his Aunt (at least not on screen) like we saw in the 2002 version of this movie. This Peter just becomes an angry dick with powers.
The Lizard comes about thanks to Peter handing over his father's formula, and Conners being rushed to produce results. Long story short, Peter has to find a way to stop and reverse the problem he created in the first place.
I'm tired of heroes and villains being intertwined so intimately in their co-creations in movies. In comics, the hero stops the bad guy because it's the right thing to do, not because the villain is his mom's former boyfriend's cousin's room mate who accidentally drank the same radioactive Kool Aid mixed with cat feces making him all crazy for scratching posts in the nearby tri-county region.
Anyway, there's a sewer scene that further shows the screenwriters don't know how to do subtlety with their plot devices, so once again they make this version of Peter do something incredibly stupid involving his camera. More CGI hi-jinks ensue.
Speaking of CGI, there's a lot of it in this movie. It looks like CGI, and you'll go with it, or you won't. The animation is good, but I could have done without the constant freeze frames of Spidey in mid-leap just to recreate a classic pose or comic cover. The Lizard still looks like a Goomba from the 1990's Super Mario Bros. movie, no matter how hard they try to make him into a bad-ass. See for yourself.
The characters never really seem fleshed out beyond the contrived plot devices. The rehash of the origin didn't need to be retold, especially not since it was only ten years ago it was told in the first place. Forty five minutes could have been cut from this movie to make it tighter and less...dull. The 3D is interesting in parts, but completely unnecessary. The script could have used some polishing from an actual professional writer instead of a scriptwriter, just to remove a lot of the boredom in the dialogue of the non-action scenes.
Rating: Bargain matinee. Only if you really want to see it. Avengers set the bar extremely high, and this movie didn't even come close to it.