The question everyone's asking is why. And the answer, at least from a hollywood mogul perspective, is obvious. Sony couldn't make another of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies and had to put the web-slinger on the big screen ASAP to stay in the Peter Parker business, so they decided to reboot the whole thing just five years after the last Raimi film. The chosen director: Marc Webb (helmer of (500) Days of Summer).
What's it about? Well, quite frankly, if you have seen the original Sam Raimi 'Spider-Man' released in 2002, you have seen a lot of the material covered here. Yes, they decided to retell the origin of Spider-Man and most of it is still the same. Nerdy orphan Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) gets biten by a radioactive spider, his uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) is murdered partially because of him and, thus, he learns about responsibility and becomes (the Amazing) Spider-Man.
What's different? Well, instead of Mary-Jane Watson, Peter's love interest this time around is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and the villain is Dr. Curt Connors aka The Lizard (Rhys Ifans). Also, unlike the Raimi films, this time around we spend some time with Peter's parents and it seems like his father has something to do with the radioactive spiders that would turn his son into a superhero. However, this little differences are just that, little differences in what feels a lot like Raimi's movie.
The one new aspect that does bring something interesting to the table is the introduction of Gwen Stacy as the female lead instead of Mary-Jane. The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone is spot-on. The love story between the characters has some very sweet moments and is the most entertaining part of the film. Denis Leary, who plays Gwen Stacy's dad, is also very good.
The rest of the movie isn't nearly as good. Most of the other new stuff doesn't work. The story regarding Peter's parents never pays off in any way. There isn't nearly enough to time to make a compelling villain out of Rhys Ifans, whose Lizard ends up being way too similar to Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin.
The most frustrating part, like with many movies nowadays, is that it feels more like an obligatory introduction to the characters in order to make more movies. And the worst part is that it isn't a particularly fun introduction.
The movie would have been much better off not dealing with Peter's transformation into Spider-Man (or pointing at it in the opening credits, I mean, we all know the story) and, thus, it would have had much more time to craft a good film. Then, the movie would be way more focused in the "new" stuff and wouldn't be stuck repeating the beats of the origin storyline just because it had to. What we have now, is a movie in which Uncle Ben's death doesn't have any real emotional resonance.