FILM REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man

Director Marc Webb assembles an impressive cast including Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans and Denis Leary, for a mature and darker reboot of the Spider-Man tale which promised to give us the untold story. Did he deliver on his promise and did we really need a reboot already? Let’s find out.

The Amazing Spider-Man” is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans), his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.

There are huge expectations for this film not only for the fact that it is a reboot so soon after the previous incarnation but also the film’s release comes in the year of the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy in August 1962. Wow where did the time go?

So let’s talk about the casting and to start with Peter Parker himself. British born Andrew Garfield won BAFTA for his role in The Social network so we all know he has acting chops. He has gone on record saying how important Spider-Man was to him during his childhood. Here he does fit the bill as Peter Parker until he gets his powers but more on that later. As Spider-Man he fits the suit well and has the quips ready for the bad guys but there is still something missing.

Emma Stone has come on board as Gwen Stacy who was Parker’s first love interest before that red-head came along. I do not think I have ever seen a bad Emma Stone movie. She is young and courageous and enjoys her work. She is suited to this role 100% and is in fact the brightest part of this rather dark and at times boring film. Gwen’s father Captain Stacy of the NYPD is played by fast talking Denis Leary who displays some great moments of humour and humility all the while trying to take down Spider-Man.

Rhys Ifans displays enough gravitas to make us believe how conflicted he is when he starts to change from Dr Connors into the Lizard. He tries to have a father son moment with Peter that just about comes off.

Rounding out the main cast are Martin Sheen and Sally Field playing Uncle Ben and Aunt May respectively. Sheen is good as Uncle Ben and seems comfortable in the role but I wished he had more to do in the film while Sally Field just seems miscast as Aunt May. I did not connect with her throughout the course of the film and at  times felt she was not needed. This of course if at odds with the fact that the  cornerstone of who Peter Parker is comes from his relationship with his Aunt so this impacts how I feel for Peter as well.

One big difference with this film is that they have tried to create all the stunt work with practical effects going for the Dark Knight route. The team behind the stunts are the Armstrong brothers Vic and Andy. Recently I spoke to Vic Armstrong and he was really pleased with the work they had done on the film and I can see why as it does have a feel of grittiness. At times there is CGI but only when required otherwise we get some great set pieces.

The film would be nowhere without the help of James Horner’s score which is rich and dark with some standout moments during the final act. Horner has always been able to do sweeping scores and here he uses that technique while Spider-man is swinging through the city and takes you with him.

We have been told to expect the untold story of Spider-Man and a darker and grittier version of the Marvel hero. This is what Director Marc Webb has gone for. The untold story is a fun new twist but hardly a revelation and we still do not get all the answers, which I hope arrive in the sequel as teased in the post credits scene (yes there is one). This time round Spidey is back to making his webshooters based on some Oscorp technology which screams “er hello”. If Oscorp has designed the webbing then how come no one at Oscorp could invent what Peter does with it? It just seems sloppy and lazy and I wish he would have invented it himself from scratch. Also when Peter gets his powers he shows off in the school gym by displaying most of his powers in front of hundreds of students to embarrass the school bully. Where did that come from? The Peter I know and love would never do that.

The villain of the piece is the Lizard which is a good choice for this new take as it can distance itself from the previous films but at points the CGI of the Lizard is poor and when he talks it looks awful. However some of the fight scenes are seamless including one with the king of cameos Stan Lee. Talking of seamless it would be unfair of me not to talk about the suit. It actually looks pretty cool and falls in line with the darker vision of this film.

The Amazing Spider-Man  is darker and is clearly based on the Ultimate comics line as opposed to the original version of Spider-Man. Is this what we need right now? Do we want a darker Spider-Man? For me the answer is no. I loved the lighter tone of the previous entries and it falls in line with all those children out there who want a light and fun Spider-Man like the Avengers which was family viewing. I get the impression this film wants to try to aim for a more mature audience which it does but at what cost? The film feels rushed and has no heart, yes the relationship between Peter and Gwen is a blossoming one but is still rushed and the fact that Uncle Ben never utters the immortal line that shapes Peter as Spider-Man is just wrong.

Happy 50th Spider-Man. You must try harder next term.

GS Rating: 3.5/5

GS Reviewer: Montoya

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One comment

  1. TheReluctantGeek /

    I have to agree with many of your points on this one. I was looking forward to a darker Spidey but found the teenage Peter mostly annoying with his adolescent moodiness and tendancy to show off (hardly the way to keep your identity secret). And what is it with him loosing his mask all the time. That said I did enjoy the film as a whole and will be adding it to my Blu-ray collection.

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