Amazing? Not quite. 4 out of 5
Review by Matt Woodman, Junior Search Planner
Ten years is a long time in the world of movies, but to most people this updated origin story of one of Marvel’s most beloved characters wasn’t necessary. Not according to Marc Webb.
The “Olympic Spirit” was the main message on display for the ad reels, with both Samsung and Lloyds TSB touting their support for Team GB, as well as their coincidentally-timed products and promotions.
Going into The Amazing Spiderman, fans of the original already knew what to expect in terms of the main points of the story; Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider, learns he has special powers and then by the end realises that “With great power comes great responsibility”. Along the way he also loses his father figure, embarrasses the school bully with his new fangled abilities and gains the affections of a female admirer. So far, so 2002, but it’s the tone of this movie that really sets it apart from its predecessor.
Back when the original Spiderman movie came out, comic book movies were still a brand new concept to the regular cinema-goer, a genre of movie that had seen very few successful translations from page to screen (not to mention quite a few stinkers i.e. David Hasselhoff’s dreadful Nick Fury incarnation). Sam Raimi produced a fantastic popcorn movie for all the family to enjoy and it went on to produce two sequels and made a household name of Tobey Maguire. In a post-Batman Begins world though, comic book movies matured, it wasn’t just about having fun anymore, the films had to have emotional depth and be able to resonate with the audience on various levels.
Enter Marc Webb, the director of this new incarnation of the Spiderman mythos, who’s only other film credit was ’500 Days of Summer’, an indie-romance movie, far removed from the big budget blockbuster he’s made here. With that experience though, he manages to make the big explosions and special effects a secondary feature, with the real emphasis being with Peter Parker’s journey from boy to man, trying to define who he is whilst battling teenage angst and also having to deal with an unknown past that has been kept from him. The whole tone of this movie is more emotionally charged and engaging, and it helps to have a great cast who can deliver for those more dramatic scenes.
Andrew Garfield does a great job of bringing a real anguish and relatable quality to Spiderman that makes you root for him, whether he’s being confronted by the main antagonist of the movie, the Lizard played by Rhys Ifans, or whether he’s trying to win the heart of his childhood crush Gwen Stacy, played by the enigmatic Emma Stone. He also brings a more authentic feel to Spiderman, with certain characteristics and mannerisms more in keeping with the comics, such as the comical quips Spiderman dishes out when dealing with criminals.
For those people who like to see special effects and great spectacle though, there is more than enough here to keep you satisfied, with a high-school showdown being a particular highlight.
The film isn’t perfect; Dennis Leary is woefully under-used as the police captain/ Gwen’s father, and also the final battle sequence felt rushed in order to keep the film within an acceptable time-frame, which is a bit of a letdown.
These are minor flaws though, and I think any fan of the original movies, the comics or a cinema-goer who just wants to be entertained would get something out of this. Next up a possible sequel, and even perhaps a role in the Avenger sequel. Now that would be Amazing.