The Amazing Spider-man – Film Review

Director: Marc Webb

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans

Distributor: Sony Pictures

“Hey Peter Parker, you know what I had for dinner last night?”
“No, what?”
“A bowl of Uncle Bens! Ha!”

………too soon? Sorry………..

But still, that was a feeling shared by many when it was announced that Sam Raimi’s Spider-man franchise would be receiving a reboot in the form of The Amazing Spider-man.
With the first Spider-man a mere ten years old at this stage, it just didn’t seem to make any sense. The Raimi trilogy is fresh in the minds of many, and therefore parallels and comparisons are going to be made at every possible junction. How Peter Parker discovers his powers, the way in which he learns his most important lesson, all of these moments are going to feel quite familiar to spidey-fans.
But all of that aside however, is The Amazing Spider-man any good? Well, yes actually.

It is clear from the start that the director is trying to distance himself from the previous films and, to a certain extent, he achieves this. It almost feels like a prequel to Raimi’s first film. Parker is in high school for the entire duration of the film and he is more preoccupied with the loss of his parents than any of his other relatives, at the present time. The tone is darker than before, a little bit grittier, and seems to be taking after a certain other superhero franchise involving a pointy eared vigilante. It’s an interesting take on a familiar story, not quite as fitting as it was for The Dark Knight, but intriguing nonetheless.

Andrew Garfield’s depiction of Peter Parker is, in a word, superb. He is the nerd who is impossible not to like, and captures the essence of the comic book character with utterly flawless precision. He has strong morals but, when put to the test, we see that he is also very human. He wants to go out on dates, he isn’t necessarily above a little bit of mischief and there are times when he just wants to hit people. We see how, over the course of the entire film (not just in the first half hour), he comes to realize that he has certain responsibilities, and that there are times when he has to sacrifice his own needs in order to help other people. People such as the lovely Gwen Stacy for example.

In one area that the film absolutely sizzles is in its relationships. Emma Stone is an actress who is proving nigh on impossible not to love, and she exemplifies that quality here. Some superhero love interests have a tendency to be boring caricatures, pretty girls with a simple black and white outlook on life. Stone injects some of her slightly oddball quirks into Gwen’s personality to make her a genuinely relatable and, most importantly, likable character. She is funny, at times a little stubborn, confident in some situations and completely lacking in others. The developing relationship between herself and Peter is the central hook of the film as it is believable, endearing and charming.

Which is a little odd for a superhero film, really. The action, while good, isn’t amazing. Our villain, Dr. Curt Connors AKA The Lizard is very obviously a warm-up before the big confrontation in the inevitable sequel. Before his transformation, he establishes a shaky is-he-good-or-is-he-bad relationship with Peter that keeps the audience on their toes. Ifans performance is a big contributor to this. He allows for some decent scraps, but anyone who has ever picked up a comic book before will be able to see his devious plan laid out before the Lizard has even made an appearance on screen. Visually at least, the Lizard himself is quite impressive. He retains many human features during the transformation, but his wide reptilian grin will almost certainly cause a nightmare or two for younger audience members. The CGI is also a little obvious at times, but this isn’t necessarily harmful to the film.

In the end, the confrontations with the Lizard are just something for Spider-man to do while he learns more about himself and his new powers. It isn’t amazing, but it does the job. Parker genuinely tends to undergo his own transformation when he dons the spandex spidey suit, becoming a little less broody and tense, and is able to fire out one liners like so many shots of web-fluid. Despite the darker tone of the film, these quips are very funny and feel very natural coming from Garfield.

In terms of plot, The Amazing Spider-Man raises a lot of questions and then, gleefully, refuses to answer them. It is clear that a major franchise is being established here and so, some punches are obviously being pulled. A lot of action movie franchises make the promise that ‘If you liked the first film, then you’ll love the sequel!’. The Amazing Spider-Man delivers the same message.

It has its problems, many of them stemming from how soon the reboot was released after the Raimi trilogy. But The Amazing Spider-Man is very entertaining and does a pretty good job overall. It’s a more faithful adaptation of the comic book, web shooters and all. The two leads hand in simply excellent performances which merit the ticket price alone. And there is a lot of focus on how Peter develops, promising a more rounded and complete character in the coming films.

So you’ll definitely want to watch this before Amazing Spider-Man 2 comes out!

Score: 3/5

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