Tobey Maguire is Peter Parker, Kirsten Dunst is Mary Jane, James Franco is Harry and Willem Dafoe is Green Goblin. That's the main cast, and though they're all great actors in their own accord, they just don't strike this chord right. At least not as right as they did with the sequel, or better yet: the reboot.
Having seen the new version: the new story, and humor, and character chemistry, this one feels all wrong. Tobey Maguire is painfully goofy, the romance is excessively cheesy, and the CGI is terrible. The swings between buildings feel stiff and awkward, and the fights have that old Batman-style to them. Though that was fine and dandy with the Great Big Bat, it just doesn't work as well with a character who webs his way through the world rather than falling in or rising away theatrically.
The soundtrack feels similar, too, which doesn't mean it's bad, but it feels like it's aimed for another character, in another place; another time. Like Spider-Man hasn't found his true purpose, which in a way is relevant to the plot, though rather than enforce his lack of purposeless it just projects a different image. It's as pompous and orchestral as ever, but it's someone else's style. Not his; nor a blank-slate's.
Even the CGI intro was embarrassingly bad, with plastic-looking webs and unstable motions between the frames. Not how I remembered it.
It's a feel-good story though, about how Peter Parker first gains his Spider-Man powers, and how he manages his daily trials with school, his uncle's death, his tragic (but evolving) relationship with Mary Jane, and the soon-to-be unexpected clash between him and his best friend, when his best friend's father takes a strange drug and becomes the Green Goblin.
The intrigue's not bad, and Peter Parker's life and journey is bumpy and sad. Even if you're disappointed by the acting, and action, you do get into the mood. You relate to him, and hope it all works out, but at the same time have a hard time not continually comparing this to the reboot, and realizing the new is just so much better in so many ways. The character chemistry most of all.
I know I liked this the first time I saw this, and maybe it still is good, but now I know it can be better. If you're pending between seeing this and seeing the new one, I'd recommend the latter.
rated 3/5: not bad