Before they can throw down Peter gets called away to save a kid from falling to his death, allowing Connors to escape. The next day Captain Stacy holds a press conference to announce he's issued an arrested warrant for Spider-Man, as he was the only person at the scene that was identified. Uh-huh, in this era of people being glued to their smart phones NO ONE got a single picture of Connors as the Lizard? If you're going to update Spider-Man's origin to be more modern, you really have to account for things like this as well. Come to think of it, where is J. Jonah Jameson and the Daily Bugle at this point in the story?
Peter goes to talk to Connors about the giant reptilian creature he encountered the night before, and this scene is hilarious in that Connors does everything in his power to make it obvious that HE'S the Lizard. Peter, who actually is quite competent in this movie, immediately picks up on this and goes to Captain Stacy to report it. Naturally though Stacy doesn't believe a word of it, but his interest is at least a little piqued to have his men research Connors a bit further. This JUST MIGHT BE the most positive portrayal of a pseudo-antagonist police officer I've ever seen in a superhero movie.
Heading back to school, Peter notices a bunch of small lizards crawling into the sewers... for some reason. Is the Lizard spawning little sidekicks or does New York have a lizard infestation they're not telling us about? He suits up and follows them, getting jumped by the Lizard where the film makes the VERY unfortunate decision of having the villain freaking TALK.
I'm not even bitching about how he doesn't talk in the comics, but instead how he should just be a feral out of control beast a la the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ripoff- er, “tribute” that Curt Connors always has been. Connors should be racked with guilt over what he's becoming and trying to stop it instead of leaping face first into it in a completely uninspired bout of cartoonish super villainy. But there I go, writing my own fan fiction again.
A GODAWFUL CGI chase through the sewers ensues, Peter escaping down a tunnel the Lizard is too big to fit through. Unfortunately for Peter the Lizard finds his camera with his name stamped on the bottom, suddenly realizing who Spider-Man really is although it should have really been obvious to him the moment Peter starting asking questions about stopping a giant reptile. Connors just might be the dumbest scientist since Dr. Elizabeth Shaw of Prometheus fame. Or Dr. Charlie Holloway, take your pick.
Taking the direct route, the Lizard bulldozes his way through Peter's high school to kill him. We get another HORRIBLE looking CGI fight as I pause the movie to look up the budget for this thing. TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY MILLION. Where the hell did all that money go, because it certainly wasn't to the CGI artists. Does Denis Leary really command that much of a salary these days? Martin Sheen? Sally Field?
The Lizard gets the drop on Peter and is about to kill him when Gwen gets involved to distract him, which is a nice touch. Their battle rages on through the library, where he get our Required By Law Stan “The Man” Lee cameo as the school's librarian. Of Marvel's endless lists of grave mistakes they make, at least making sure the Founding Father of their universe still gets his due certainly isn't one of them.
The cops show up, the Lizard taking this as his cue to escape back to the sewers because, I don't know, he's scared of getting arrested? Transforming yourself into a giant murderous lizard has to be violating some sort of city ordinance, I'm sure. Peter tracks him, on the way getting a call from Gwen to make sure he's alright. He tells her he's fine, asking her to go to Oscorp and make an antidote serum based off the formula he and Connors were working on earlier. Another point I have to give the film, Gwen certainly isn't the damsel in distress that Mary Jane was in the original trilogy.
Peter finds Connors' underground lab, finding a video diary of him detailing his plan to use the Ganali device to release lizard gas upon the city to turn EVERYONE into giant lizards. In his twisted mind this will make everyone equal, a society without outcasts and the such. Oh, so THAT'S the key to world peace. I've always wondered what the secret was. This also means he's headed to Oscorp to steal the device, the very same place Peter just sent his girlfriend. Way to go Peter! He calls Gwen, begging her to get out of the building before Connors shows up to get the device. Gwen refuses however, as she wants to make sure everyone in the building evacuates to safety as well as finish making the antidote. Hey, I have a suggestion... why not just have her SMASH THE GANALI DEVICE?!
On his frantic run to Oscorp, Peter runs into a contingent of SWAT troops and gets tasered into unconsciousness. They handcuff him, Stacy walking up to him and unmasking him to learn his identity. He does let Peter go though when he learns he's trying to save Gwen, as moderate intelligence appears to run in the Stacy family.
Gwen's antidote only has a minute left to creation when she hears the Lizard start breaking into the lab. She tries to hide in a closet with the Ganali device, but he smells her and simply grabs it from her and leaves. She BETTER have sabotaged it or all that good will she just spent building up with me is GONE. Peter, having gotten shot in the leg by a police officer while leaving, struggles to make it to Oscorp. Because the film has gone on way too long without another tired cliché, we see the father of the boy Peter saved earlier watching this on the news and decides he has to help.
This leads to that old chestnut of All New Yorkers Stick Together, as he's the head of a construction company so he orders all the building cranes in the area turned to give Peter a stepping stone path to Oscorp Tower. Yes, that IS every bit as contrived and stupid as it sounds, thank you for asking. Peter swings from crane to crane, aided by the noble construction workers and police officers of New York but NO firemen so I have to take points off for that oversight. The film makers also didn't find a way to shoehorn an American flag into the scene either, so another epic fail there.
Stacy arrives at the bottom of Oscorp tower where Gwen is waiting for him, giving the antidote to her father to give to Peter. We see the Lizard atop the tower, loading the Ganali device with his Make-Everyone-A-Lizard serum. A timer announces it'll release the gas in two minutes as the chances Gwen messed with the device dwindle by the moment. Peter attacks the Lizard for another insultingly fake looking CGI fight, getting his ass kicked until Captain Stacy Now With Shotgun Wielding Action (TM) turns up to shift the tide of the battle.
He gives the antidote to Peter, who scrambles to install it in the device before it can launch the gas. The Lizard drives his clawed hand through Stacy's stomach, going after Peter but is just a moment too late to stop him. He almost immediately begins changing back to Connors as the antidote gas rains down upon the city and apparently the gas also instantly cured his psychosis because he saves Peter from falling off the tower.
Peter runs to Stacy's side, who has managed to stay alive just long enough to deliver a moving speech before he dies. THAT'S something they need to start teaching in schools. He makes Peter promise to leave Gwen out of all the trouble that will come with his new found gig, Peter nodding as the captain succumbs to his wounds. A news report wraps things up as we learn Connors is now behind bars for his crimes and HOLY SHIT A SUPERHERO MOVIE WHERE THEY DIDN'T KILL THE BAD GUY! That is enough to negate damn near every cliché in this movie!
Now that the Cliche-O-Meter is back to a clean slate, the film gets to work creating more as the next scene is Stacy's funeral, which just HAPPENS to be in the slow-motion rain. Peter watches Gwen from a distance, vanishing when HER Spider-Sense goes off to detect him. She confronts him at his house later, asking where the hell he's been since her father died. Peter simply replies that he can't see her anymore, causing her to start walking away.
But not quite though, as she stops and faces him. She instantly figures out her father made Peter promise to stay away from her to keep her safe, because Gwen Stacy IS the sharpest knife in the drawer as long as the subject isn't sabotaging Denali devices. Peter says nothing, Gwen leaving for good.
Our final scene is back at the school in English class, as Peter shows up late. The teacher chastises him for his tardiness, Peter promising it'll never happen again. The teacher warns him to not make promises he can't keep as he takes a seat behind Gwen, who is rightfully ignoring him for being an asshole. He whispers to her “Yeah, but those are the best kind” as she slowly smirks, giving us hope for the two lovebirds even though Captain Stacy was totally right about how dangerous Peter is for Gwen.
Cue the cre- oh, not quite. We see Connors in prison talking to a shadowy figure, who asks the doctor if he told Peter the truth about his father. Connors replies he did not, asking the man to leave Peter alone but the man vanishes. Alright. Cue the credits for real, and they are thankfully NOT set to a Nickelback song. Huh, did you notice the thief TOTALLY got away with murder? Like everyone completely forgot about him almost immediately. Weird.
Huh. Well, that was definitely a movie with actors and set pieces and music. It wasn't good, it wasn't bad, it was just the most middle of the road and mediocre movie they could have possibly turned out. It took me a couple of days to watch it, as I had to rewatch most of it because I literally forget what happened hours after watching it.
As expected, this movie had some great characters and fantastic acting. While he has almost no eye for action whatsoever, Webb absolutely gets how to get great performances out of his actors. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were FANTASTIC as the leads of this movie, they had extremely believable chemistry and delivered their hackneyed lines with such enthusiasm you actually believed them. Rhys Ifans as Connors was the counterbalance to this, as he was SUCH a lame and ineffective villain.
The story, while infested with cliches, scared me in the beginning by threatening to be horribly complex but sorted itself out pretty quick for a very straightforward tale that was greatly at odds with how batshit crazy these kind of movies tend to get. I liked it wasn't some end of the world scenario, but instead was a fairly self contained Spider-Man story like it should have been. Yes it was fairly bland and HIGHLY generic, but I'll take that any day of the week over self indulgent garbage like Man of Steel.
I already pointed out how jaw droppingly bad the CGI was, especially when you look at the budget for this film, but DAYMN was it bad. Like “ruined every single scene it was used in” bad. I suppose I can't bitch too much as Webb's previous film had exactly ZERO crazy CGI action scenes so he's still learning, but then again why was he directing a movie with no action experience?!
These are the worst kind of movies to review, as I really have nothing to talk about on either side. A good movie inspires gushing praise while a bad one produces mocking derision, a passable one is just “ehh”. Certainly a very rough start for a new franchise, but now that the origin story is out of the way it should all be smooth sailing from here, right?
Why do I hear crickets?