The Amazing Spider-Man - Review
Review of the new feature film - The Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield , Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans .
The Amazing Spider-Man
With the commercial success of Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3 only a recent memory it was perhaps a surprise that Raimi’s Spiderman 4 did not appear however this summer we see the reboot of the Spiderman franchise with a new director Marc Webb. Enter “The Amazing Spider-man”, Sony’s significantly cheaper, reboot of everyone’s friendly neighborhood Spider-man gives a chance to hear “untold stories” and still make good on this year’s summer blockbuster cash in. I certainly had reservations about this film and wondered if it actually had something unique and original to offer audiences that still vividly remember cinema’s first Spider-man’s adventures. Did the reboot pull it off? You’re about to find out. We once again check into the daily life of Peter Parker/Spider-man (Andrew Garfield), we once again learn of his origins after being bitten by a radioactive spider and having his beloved Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) lose his life due to Parker’s careless nature.
What’s different about this story this time around is the fact that Parker is investigating the mysterious nature of his deceased parents; he finds a clue connecting them to a genetics scientist named Dr. Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans). Connors is working with splicing animal DNA with humans in order to use their natural abilities to heal illnesses in people, during their time together, Parker gets bitten and uses his powers to become Spider-man and Connors becomes a monstrous man-reptile beast known simply as “The Lizard.” Now Parker must balance his social/school life with potential girlfriend Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone), protect his recently widowed Aunt May (Sally Fields), and stop the Lizard before the secrets of his parent’s death and the city are both lost to Parker forever. Simple stories are often used to describe super heroes origin stories and while I am all for super hero films with corny cliché hero origins, it is somewhat annoying that this film felt the need to re-tell Spidey’s origins once again. Fans will almost always guarantee you that a superhero’s first film debut is often hindered by having to tell the origins story because it takes SO much of the movie’s time.
At this point, everyone pretty much knows how Parker became Spider-man and comparing it to Raimi’s first film, the similarities in how he donned the red and blue bug tights is almost exactly the same. So why bother telling us again and taking up more than half of the movie’s time? The big difference is the focus on Spider-man’s parents which I admit, was never even touched upon in the Raimi trilogy. However, it’s mainly used as a ploy to make the story seem bigger so future sequels will do the job for us, any information we get is scarce at best.
As for the cast Garfield actually does make a very good Spider-man. He’s emotional, convincing and he really portrays that geeky kid persona more so than Toby Maguire did. The downside is the his writing is below par, the dialogue with him and just about everyone else is very basic and average. The carjacking scene when he first dons the total Spider-man costume is a blink of dialogue brilliance that never really resurfaces or comes up with any other interactions with other characters. At times it felt like Garfield really wanted to branch out and try to do something daring and different, but the script wouldn’t let him and he remained confined by the marginality of what writing material he had to work with.
Emma Stone is blasé at best; she breezes through Gwen Stacey like she used her screen test as her actual performance for the whole film. We barely got to know her character or her personality and while it is true Spider-man loved her before he met Mary-Jane Watson; at least Kirsten Dunst created a character that had a personality and presence worth remembering. Gwen is there as a love interest, nothing about her character gives anymore or any less to the audience. Then we have our villain, Dr. Connors/The Lizard who, like the concept of this movie, started out interesting and unique but then sank right into super villain obscurity. The character’s resolve and personal identity get lost once he starts turning into the Lizard, any moral struggle or originality in his character is long since lost and never recovers, turning him into an even more generic comic book villain than any of the past Spider-man movie villains. I cannot really compare this Dr. Connors to Raimi’s Dr. Connors (Dylan Baker) since he never took on the Lizard form in the original trilogy. The only “untold” story here is seeing Spider-man chase after Gwen and his parents and achieve very little in both pursuits, making any untold story aspect forever left to the whims of a sequel.
On top of this, Spider-man also spends half the movie flashing his secret identity to everyone. Maguire did this trick for one important scene in “Spider Man 2”, in this film, Garfield treats his secret identity like a second class concern and it really makes this whole costumed identity seem stupid if he’s going to give his real face and name away at the drop of a hat. Other than a hauntingly beautiful score and some good performances from Garfield, Ifans and Sheen, this film is a disappointment – lots of action but not a great deal of plot , a typical summer superhero blockbuster , worth a quick look on a rainy day whilst on holiday but apart from that simply not worth the effort .
There is a small sequence mixed within the closing credits where we see The Lizard with a mysterious “Man In The Shadows” which seems to indicate a potential sequel – please guys don’t do it , this one has run it’s course !