Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man / Cert: 12A / Director: Marc Webb / Screenplay: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves / Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Sally Field, Martin Sheen / Release Date: July 3rd
Hopes were not high when Sony announced that they would be rebooting the Spider-Man franchise which is barely ten years old. There were rumours and scuttlebutt that the studio would be looking at some of that tweenage cash and making a superhero film for the Twilight crowd. Then they angered some quarters by announcing they would be delving into Peter Parker’s tragic parentage and the whispers were this was so it was closer to Batman Begins. Whilst it’s far from the disaster that some were hoping for, The Amazing Spider-Man is a mixed bag that suffers greatly coming after a pretty decent series of films and essentially telling the same story from the start.
Fairly early on we learn that Peter Parker’s (played by Andrew Garfield) father Richard Parker was into some shady dealings to do with Oscorp’s genetics division and Peter is essentially abandoned to live with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben (Sally Field and Martin Sheen). Flash forward some years and Parker is a shy but brilliant teenager. He gets picked on to an extent and has a crush on Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). During Parker’s investigation of his parent’s disappearance he is led to Dr Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans) who takes a shine to Peter due to his intelligence. Peter is then bitten by a genetically modified spider and starts to take on some radical changes. Spurred on by a tragedy, Parker becomes Spider-Man and starts to fight crime much to the annoyance of Gwen’s father Captain Stacy (Denis Leary). Meanwhile Connors succumbs to work pressures from the dying head of Oscorp and uses his own formula to re-grow genetic tissue and becomes a lizard-like creature bent on ‘improving’ the human race.
So much for all the claims of ‘The Untold Story’; The Amazing Spider-Man for its first hour is a slightly darker and grittier remake of the first film with a few differences. The issue of Parker’s parents is abandoned after he meets Dr Connors, presumably so it can be explored in further sequels. The second hour gets more interesting with Peter using his powers in some truly stunning 3D web swinging and crime fighting. Rhys Ifans does a great job as Dr Connors and for most of the running time is a tragic scientist on par with Jeff Goldblum from The Fly, but then to harken back again to a story we have already seen, Connors starts to hear voices in an almost carbon copy scene from Willem Dafoe’s work in Sam Raimi’s first film and all that good work is ruined.
I don’t know about you but I have always felt that Spider-Man was more about true heroism and not moping around, that’s what Batman is for. In this film the angst pours through every frame. Garfield mumbles most of his dialogue, occasionally with a hood up and is kind of a brat towards his poor Aunt May. Every scene with Spidey takes place in the night time with hardly any of it in cheerful daylight. The Parker/Gwen Stacy relationship is kind of awkward at first but once the leads natural chemistry kicks in it becomes quite involving. It still however goes on far too long; once the carnage is over (and great carnage it is) the sobbing and meaningful looks may drive you to the exit sign. Speaking of the carnage, it’s a shame this film had to come out after both Transformers: Dark of the Moon and The Avengers because in comparison; the battles Spider-Man and The Lizard have seem quite low-key.
The Amazing Spider-Man is perfectly serviceable summer entertainment designed to appeal to teenagers. What holds it back from greatness is a first half that borders on tedium. Having said that it’s entirely possible based on this evidence that if Marc Webb returns for the sequel he may just manage to top Spider-Man 2 and make the best film in the franchise.
Expected Rating: 4 out of 10