Lots of really good films have been remade over the years. Some haven't. Gone With the Wind is not on the list of remakes, but then 1947's Miracle of 34th Street has been redone as on the stage, twice for the television audience (the 1959 version being a live broadcast on NBC), and two more film versions, one in 1973 and one in 1994. Satan's School for Girls was remade 27 years after the original, but you probably knew that. Kate Jackson (remember, she was the "smart" angel of Charlie's Angels) was in both versions. She must have been like two years old when she made the first one.
I remembering seeing Jane Eyre on TV when I was a kid. It must have been the 1934 version because the other versions had actors I would have recognized (Orson Welles and George C. Scott for example), and I didn't recognize any of the actors in the movie I saw. Jane Eyre incidentally has had sixteen movie adaptations, and has been produced as a symphony, two operas, two ballets, and three musicals. I've seen only the 1934 movie, most of which I don't remember except for clearly remembering that I was seriously creeped out by Bertha, the madwoman in the attic, and the 2011 movie which I thought was outstanding although I was once again creeped out by the madwoman in the attic.
There must be plenty of reasons to do remakes. Sometimes new technology might make possible scenes that could just not have been done before. I'm looking forward to the new Total Recall even though the original is one of my favorite movies. I don't think they will improve the story or the story telling, but special effects are light years past where they were twenty-two years ago when the original was made. Sometimes the story is just worth doing again -- Shakespeare has been playing for 400 years. Then again, inexplicably, there have been two remakes of Freaky Friday, although Lindsay Lohan may be all the justification needed for doing the most recent version.
The Amazing Spider-Man which opened last week is a remake of 2002'sSpider-Man. Lindsay Lohan does not appear in this new movie, so one might wonder why there had to be a remake of such a recent movie. Maybe technology. This is a CGI driven franchise, and while the new film is glitzy and spectacular, it's not really any better than the other one. Of course, if the intention is make a whole bunch more movies with these characters, it could be argued that Tobey Maguire is getting a bit long in the tooth for an ongoing franchise. He is after all eight years older than Andrew Garfield. Sean Connery played James Bond first in 1962 and finally in 1983. That's twenty one years. You would have though that Tobey might have had a few more Spidey roles left in his aging thirty-seven-year-old body. But for whatever reason, the powers that be decided it was time to start over.
Did they succeed?
Good question. I do not think that this new movie was better than the 2002 edition. It was a little different. It played a bit more to character development than the previous version, and this Peter Parker is a little more real as a person than the Tobey Maguire portrayal, but we're splitting hairs here. It wasn't that much different.
That said, it was just as good as the 2002 movie, a movie that I liked very much. Like that one, this movie was a well-produced film, good-looking with state of the art special effects, and a story that was well-written, moving the story along with a good balance of drama and humor.
In this movie, Peter Parker is a kid whose parents died when he was young, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Pete is smitten by the pretty girl at school, Gwen, who is dating the school jock/bully, the very one who delights in making Peter's life miserable. When Peter is smitten, he discovers he has hormones. Peter is then bitten by an experimental spider from the lab of Dr. Connors (where Gwen coincidently works). Dr. Connors, we will find out, is a colleague of Peter's late father, and is working on a formula to grow arms, one of which he is missing. When Peter is bitten, he discovers he has super powers. At first he uses his abilities to get even with the bully which gains Gwen's attention because she knows the guy she's dating is a stupid dweeb but somehow she has to date him because, well, he's got a big letter on his jacket and she had read an article in Cosmo on the five four-letter words you can teach guys in jackets if you want them buy you fries.
Things get a little darker when Uncle Ben is killed trying to stop a small time thief from running away from the scene of a crime. Peter is stricken. When he is stricken, Peter discovers his calling. He becomes a vigilante of sorts, going around stopping crimes. He thinks he's doing good, but there are others, like Gwen's father the policeman, who think Peter is just getting in the way.
The best is yet to come, however, as Dr. Connors, the scientist who is mad that he lost his arm, has made a breakthrough with his work, and injects himself with a serum that in fact allows him to grow a new arm. Unfortunately, it also turns him into a lizard with a bad attitude and puts him on a collision course with Peter and the policeman.
I was not a big Spider-Man fan as a kid, so I don't know my comic book characters well. I happen to like Andrew Garfield's interpretation of Peter Parker better than Tobey Maguire's, but I can't judge which might be closer to the comic book's portrayal of Peter. I also like the Gwen character (Emma Stone) better than I liked Kirsten Dunst's character Mary Jane Watson. But I did in fact like Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.
See what I'm saying here? I liked this movie, but I liked the first one too. I do not think this movie added anything to the telling of the story, but it was well done.
If you've never seen a Spider-Man movie, go see this movie. It is well done and it's lots of fun.
If you've seen the other Spider-Man films, you can go, but you aren't going to see anything new, except for new faces. Is that worth your movie dollars? The movie makers are hoping you think so, but I think you might want to wait until the next Spidey movie (which is already being planned) to see if they come up with a little novelty.
Once again, I agree with all that Bernie said about the movie. I enjoyed it, but couldn't really say that it was at all necessary or even feasible. After all, Andrew Garfield is 29 -- he could only barely play a high-school-aged Peter Parker. Have we as a culture forgotten what high-schoolers look like?
My favorite scene in the movie was Stan Lee's "cameo." I looked at comic books as a kid with a new-found allowance and first started with DC, but then discovered Marvel Comics and became a convert to Stan Lee's vision. I love Stan Lee, no matter where I find him.
See the movie; it's just an alternate universe than the first Spider Man.
And we comics lovers know that alternate universes exist.