When Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) was a young boy, his parents were taken away from him: he's not sure of the exact circumstances because his memories are a little hazy, but he does remember his father (Campbell Scott) saying goodbye to him and he and his mother (Embeth Davidtz) leaving, apparently because they were in danger thanks to some kind of research Mr Parker was conducting. Thus Peter was brought up by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) who could not have been more supportive, yet the fact remained their nephew still felt something of an outsider...
One of the most tantalising questions in comic book movie fandom was what would Dylan Baker have been like if Sam Raimi had been allowed to make a fourth instalment in his Spider-Man series and featured Baker playing Dr Curt Connors, who would have become supervillain The Lizard. This never happened, but considering the grumbling Spider-Man 3 received it was probably never going to happen anyway, yet in light of what Marvel did with their remake of a film from ten years before simply because they had the rights and there was money to be made, there were those who still yearned to have seen Tobey Maguire return to the starring role and appreciate how Raimi's vision would have played out.
Andrew Garfield was the man stepping into the red and blue costume - well, let's hope it was a different one, or at least they'd washed the old one - another actor in his twenties playing a high schooler, as was love interest Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy: when she first appears you could be mistaken for thinking she was one of the teachers. Although the film makes a meal of introducing the conspiracy angle to Peter's background, like a few things here it's dropped pretty quickly, as if they noticed not only wasn't it really necessary but disrupted the character's essential everyman persona if it was revealed he was extra-special even before he was bitten by the lab spider which lends him his powers.
The lab is owned by Connors (Rhys Ifans), a one-armed scientist who is researching a way to bring about the regeneration of injuries and missing limbs in the hope that it will bring about a new dawn of equality, a race of supermen if you will which could be a comment on Communism or fascism, though again this is dropped before it threatens to get interesting, or indeed an obstacle. Connors seems to have a link to the Parkers, though that was being held over for the sequels so in the meantime the plot plodded onward with grinding predictability to a showdown between Spider-Man and The Lizard, and that was a problem with much of this, even if you hadn't seen the Raimi movies this one stuck so close to the superhero formula that there were zero surprises.
So there was nothing moving here, nothing exciting, nothing startling, and certainly nothing amazing, with the more appropriate title The Much as You Expected Spider-Man. It said a lot about this that the best scene was the customary Stan Lee cameo which had the humour and ingenuity, but that lasted a mere thirty seconds or so and then it was back to the far too perfunctory drama. The film had a dutiful air as if it had been directed by the accountants who demanded various points be met to maximise the profits from those who had a preconceived idea of what to expect in their superhero blockbusters and were not going to tolerate any deviation from that. Any questions of what it meant to be a hero of any stripe were calculated for bland, corporate effect rather than pushing any boundaries, and with its drab colour scheme to make it look serious there was precious little chance of getting fired up about this. Garfield and Stone were fine, but they failed to brighten the obligatory movie. Music by James Horner.