Reviews

The Amazing Spider-Man

4

Andrew Garfield dons the Spidey suit for this reboot

 

There's just no getting around this.

Remaking Spider-Man on the big screen, barely a decade after the Sam Raimi version first swung energetically into cinemas, is in many ways pointless.

Needless to say, there are some compellingly pointy reasons for doing it relating to money and rights, but in artistic terms it’s a fool’s errand – there’s no new cultural context, no alternative storyline, no way to avoid retreading old ground.

So how on earth did director Marc Webb and co (mostly) get away with it?

Weird though it may sound, it’s Webb’s essential disinterest in Spider-Man the hero that swings it.

This is an origin story spanning roughly the same period as Raimi’s first film and hitting almost all of the same key beats – the bite, the metamorphosis, the face-off with a scientist turned superpowered megalomaniac – but Webb isn’t telling the origin story of Spider-Man so much as the origin story of Peter Parker.

Andrew Garfield’s Peter is less geek than loner; edgy and uncomfortable in his own skin, with an air of barely suppressed rage that’s set up in the film’s shadowy opening moments.

His parents’ abrupt abandonment lays out the rebooted Peter upfront: this is a very angry, very wounded young man, a far cry from Tobey Maguire’s hapless goof, played with compelling nuance by Garfield.

It’s fitting, then, that his arachnid transformation isn’t exactly an accident; rather than minding his own business on a school trip when he’s bitten by the radioactive critter, he’s intentionally sneaked into  a restricted area at creepy corporate facility Oscorp.

By giving Peter a mission – to uncover the mystery of his parents’ disappearance – before he gets his abilities, screenwriter James Vanderbilt makes the superpowers almost incidental.

They’re an excuse for some visually stunning shots of NYC skyscraper-hopping and the odd 3D web-slinging indulgence, and that, in real terms, is about it.

Unsurprisingly given Webb’s track record, it’s the romance between Peter and whip-smart fellow student Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) that really sells his Spidey.

Far from the passive, unattainable dream girl (we’re looking at you, Kirsten Dunst), she’s goofy and nervous and as besotted with Peter as he is with her, and the pair’s sparky, spontaneous chemistry makes every interaction a joy.

Meanwhile, Peter’s initially antagonistic dynamic with Gwen’s cop dad (Denis Leary) unfolds into something more resonant than his underdeveloped relationships with either Sally Field’s Aunt May or Martin Sheen’s Uncle Ben.

Elsewhere, Rhys Ifans gets short shrift in a too-familiar role (the ambitious scientist who ends up the victim of his own experiment), while the fallout from a pivotal character’s death is so mishandled you can’t help feeling it’s been included out of a sense of obligation to comic lore, rather than because it serves this story in any way at all.

Still, if Webb’s take borders on tonally confused – pitch-dark character study, romcom, full-on slapstick – its focus on the human over the superhuman pays off.

There’s a slew of extras covering both style and substance.

Features on the pre-visualisation process, production artwork and footage of stunt rehearsals will satisfy the technically-minded, while an insight-packed chat-track with Webb and producer Avi Arad is informative if overly earnest, and an exhaustive 110-minute Making Of covers every aspect of the project, from inception and casting through to post.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • SteveMcc

      Nov 26th 2012, 13:26

      4

      Really enjoyed this film! I thought that Garfield was absolutely fantastic as Peter Parker and he took the character back to his Genius/joker role in Spiderman. If only they could have chopped up the CGI in Raimi's with this, I thought it was almost comical at times in the cinema for a big budget film of this nature, but it did translate well onto BluRay. Great cast and some very funny moments, however that awe-struck feeling I had when I watched Raimi's Spiderman swinging from roof to roof was lacking.

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    • apo1978

      Nov 26th 2012, 13:42

      3 stars is spot on.

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    • Ali1748

      Nov 26th 2012, 16:28

      4

      Watched this on Sky Box Office today and I really enjoyed it. Garfield is superb as Parker. It's easily better than Spider-Man 3.

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    • spid2411

      Nov 28th 2012, 14:27

      3

      This was good - Garfield was a better Peter Parker/spider-man. Weakest thing was the villain - only one spider-man film has nailed the villain and that was Doc Ock in Spider-man 2. The rest were pretty bad - the Green Goblin was terrible in that stupid power rangers suit. They need to take a leaf out of Nolan's Batman book and get the villains right - both the Joker and Bane were outstanding because you can see the actor underneath the paint/masks. Total CGI or hiding bad guys under silly metal suits makes them less interesting to watch. Perfect example: Iron Man 2. When you saw Mickey Rourke as Whiplash at the Monaco grand prix he looked really menacing. So they then stuck him in a metal suit at the end and totally took away the feeling of threat, turning what could have been a great superhero movie into another mediocre toy advert.

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    • BlueBeing

      Dec 1st 2012, 5:11

      Completely agree with spid2411. Nolan defined a new generation of villains - more human, and therefore, more terrifying. Most villains in other superhero sagas are far too cartoonish, including all of the featured in the Spider Man movies.

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    • Indianabones

      Dec 1st 2012, 21:31

      Did you not find with Bane, once you find out he was just a Hench man he kinda lost his awe?

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