Here is a film with a duty to function as comic book adaptation, franchise reboot and independent entity - it's a lot for Marc Webb, directing only his second feature film, to juggle, and at first, it's too much. At times, a foreknowledge of the events of Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man film might help us appreciate moments in this film; at other times, we're encouraged to forget it altogether. The death of Uncle Ben, for instance, is mishandled here, but only in comparison to that other film. But whereas Raimi sped straight into his superhero story, Webb takes his time. As a result, we come to understand what it means to this young man to have transformed into a being unlike any other in recorded history, an understanding which no other superhero film has ever possessed so strongly. Webb has a deft touch for sweetness and humour, if somewhat soddened by an overbearing musical score here, and if he directs with no clear tone or style, he at least dispenses with the grating gaudiness Raimi contributed ten years ago. But such gaudiness might better serve the shlockier aspects of this story - Webb's manner is much too cool and too earnest for such B-movie elements as a talking lizard. The lasting impact of this film, though, will be in its depiction of its central relationship, and Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have such a talent for moulding their characters to meet their own personae - theirs is a believable relationship and it feels honest. It's the most successful element in this unambitious, muddled summer movie, and it makes it much more enjoyable.