The Amazing Spider-Man

While some were not so thrilled to see our friendly neighbourhood Spider-man swinging back onto the big screen considering the first of Sam Raimi’s popular trilogy was released only ten years ago, it cannot be doubted that there could not have been a more aptly named director to take the helm of the reboot than Marc Webb.

 Having directed only one film before, the delightful 500 Days of Summer, Webb is clearly more comfortable with developing relationships than grand set pieces and in this retelling, spends a lot of time really developing Peter Parker’s character before any web slinging is involved. Being an origin story much familiar ground is covered; nerdy adolescent gets bitten by a spider and decides to use his newfound powers to protect and serve etc. but this adaptation delves more into why Peter was orphaned and gives intriguing clues about his scientist parents. Longing to learn more about them he visits an old colleague of his fathers, Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) and inadvertently helps him transform into the villainous reptile Lizard. As Spider-man he realises he must accept responsibility and stop him.

 Andrew Garfield is excellent as Peter/Spider-man and powerfully conveys all of those angsty teenage emotions, heartbreaking in some scenes and full of comic-book quips the next. He also expertly masters the transition from the anguish of being an orphan to the awkwardness of first love. Emma Stone (Easy A) is also brilliant as love interest Gwen Stacy (in the comics she is Peter’s first love long before Mary-Jane comes along), she is Peter’s intellectual equal and daughter of the police chief determined to put a stop to Spider-Man’s vigilante antics and unlike Mary-Jane gets her own moment of glory, preventing her from being the typical damsel in distress. She is sharp and witty and her excuse to keep her father out of her room is a highlight. Her and Garfield’s chemistry is electric, dripping with adolescent awkwardness and powerful enough to spark an off screen romance between the two. I for one found them a much more charismatic couple than Dunst and Maguire and it is their relationship, the tentative joy of finding a connection and sneaking into each others rooms that is the most engaging part of the film.

 Drawing inevitable comparisons to Raimi’s Spider-Man, the tone is less campy than often with more intense emotion though there are some cheeky moments. Peter’s adjustment to his new powers provides some laughs, as does the banter between Peter and Gwen. Sally Field and Martin Sheen are great as Peter’s Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and although the immortal lines ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ are never uttered, Uncle Ben again provides much of the motivation for Peters transformation into Spider-Man.

 The pacing is much slower and more focus on relationships than action. In this adaptation he doesn’t fully become Spider-man until well into the film and the action scenes are decent but not jaw dropping. Despite the slow yet compelling introduction, other elements of the plot feel rushed. Some aspects of the Lizard’s storyline feel rushed, giving the feeling that perhaps the focus on the films introduction resulted in many later events being edited out. Certain scenes feel lacking development and important plot points such as what happened to Peter’s parents are forgotten before the end.

 Though thoroughly entertaining, and containing one of creator Stan Lee’s best cameos yet, pacing issues prevent the film from being as great as it could have been. Having said this, the story, which is already set up to become a new trilogy, is now perfectly set up for what could be a truly spectacular sequel and many loose ends will surely be resolved later in the series. Fans of the comics who know what dramatic storylines involving Gwen are in the pipeline will look forward to seeing such event unfold on screen as Gwen’s character, who is iconic in the comics had never really been explored onscreen (Despite a small appearance in Spider-Man 3). Yes there are flaws and Raimi’s trilogy is still fresh in the mind of many but Garfield has already left such an impression that he has me thirsty for the next installment.

Verdict ****

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Comments
3 Responses to “The Amazing Spider-Man”
  1. nediunedited says:

    Yes. I agree.

    Webb creates a wonderful foundation for future installments–character development is the strongest part of this reboot (helped by Garfield and Stone)–now we just need a better villain and some bigger action sequences.

    Let’s see how it compares to Spider-Man 2…

    • Yeah I can’t wait for the next one, its set up perfectly and the second in most superhero series’ is often the best with the stakes and action raised. Can’t wait to see what happens with Gwen!

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