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The Amazing Spider-Man (3D)

2012-07-12 11:59
 
The Amazing Spider-Man
What it's about:

After being bitten by a genetically enhanced spider, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield, taking over from Tobey Maguire) soon learns that with great power comes great responsibility as he becomes New York City's masked defender Spider-Man, all the while dealing with death, love, a mutated supervillain called The Lizard and enough secrets to ensure that his life is never more than one step away from spinning wildly out of control.

What we thought:

Whatever The Amazing Spider-Man gets wrong and for all that it gets right, there is one massive hurdle that it struggles to overcome: Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, which covered much the same ground, came out all of a decade ago.

Even after the rather catastrophic mess of Spider-Man 3 (released in 2007), few would argue against having a new Spider-Man film in our cinemas – there is a reason the character has endured for fifty years and counting, after all – but did we really need yet another re-telling of his origin?

Even kids too young to have seen the "original" in cinemas are undoubtedly well aware of how the webslinger came to be thanks to a decade of what can easily be called "Spidey-mania" in the form of various cartoon incarnations, television broadcasts of the Raimi films, video games and (perhaps overly optimistically on my part) the comics themselves.

The Amazing Spider-Man, as it turns out, does have plenty of reasons for existing but it really needn't have existed in this form. Take Spidey back to high school, sure, but at this point why not just take his origin as read and take it from there?

Most  damningly, director Marc Webb and screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent seem to realise this as they spend the first hour or so of the film tying themselves in knots to ensure that every detail of Spider-Man's origin plays out just a little bit differently than before. It's done well, sure, but there is a pervading sense that this version is different just for the sake of being different.

Worse, The Amazing Spider-Man has been set up as the first part of a trilogy (what isn't nowadays?) so it plays out like a first act anyway, so the origin stuff does feel like unnecessary set up for a film that is itself setting up two future films.

The good news though, is that aside for a few niggling problems, the redundancy of the origin is one of only three major serious flaws with the film – and even then the other two are somewhat more forgiveable. First, the storytelling does feel a bit messy as there is so much to fit in but, on the plus side, that does mean that the film never becomes boring. Besides, it's absolutely no worse here than in Raimi's first Spider-Man film. Second, The Lizard is simply a totally rubbish villain with questionable motives and an over-reliance on CGI but, again, even that could be forgiven, as he really just exists as a generic monster against whom Spider-Man gets to strut his stuff.

Now, considering that I just spent half of the review bad-mouthing the film, you might be wondering how it is exactly that so seriously flawed a film can still earn a mightily respectable four-star rating. The answer is simple enough. The Amazing Spider-Man might be frustratingly inconsistent but the bad stuff is never that bad and the good stuff is simply really, really good. It is, in short, far more than the sum of its parts.

The action scenes might lack the verve of those in the superlative Spider-Man 2, but for a guy who is primarily known for indie comedy-dramas such as (500) Days of Summer, Webb proves himself to be surprisingly adept at big budget set pieces. He is also helped along by effects that are simply in another league altogether to Raimi's films with (apparently) a greater reliance on physical effects and, The Lizard aside, CGI that blends seamlessly with the physical effects and, once and for all, truly has us believing that "a man can swing", to paraphrase a competitor superhero franchise.

More importantly though, as all Spidey fans know, the fighty and swingy bits might be fun and all but the real appeal of Spider-Man has always been the character moments and it is here, ironically enough, that the film really takes flight. Webb simply knows how to wrangle out oodles of terrific emotional beats from Peter Parker and his wonderful cast of characters, while at the same time he and his writers have finally made a Spider-Man film that is, oh so crucially, very, very funny.

Best of all though, and what proves to be the film's great ace in the hole, is its mind-bogglingly great cast. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben? Genius. Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy? Cranky awesomeness. Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors? Wonderfully slimy. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy? Loveable beyond words.

An underused Sally Fields aside, what we have here is a stellar cast of actors cast into roles that they were born to play, but no one is more responsible for the ultimate success of the film than Spidey himself, Andrew Garfield. Time and space does not permit me to gush over just how perfect Garfield is in this role but lets just say that with all due respect to an otherwise perfectly decent actor... Tobey Maguire who?


It's far from perfect but The Amazing Spider-man is a fairly terrific (re)introduction to a superhero trilogy that looks to only get better from here. And in Andrew Garfield we have THE perfect actor for the part.

Emmanuel Vuma 2012/07/12 10:35 AM
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I completely do not think that we needed another re-telling of Spiderman's origin?
Raimi fan 2012/07/12 3:45 PM
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Not sure of we saw the same film. The script was weak and lacked credibility. For the first hour we have to see Peter cry about his parents leaving him with his uncle and aunt and then their dissapearance is explained within a very weak and cripted scene. Peter spends another quarter of the movie looking for the guy who shot uncle Ben, nearly harassing all blonde, long haired guys in Manhattan only to suddenly turn his attention away to the Lizard. One might say he found another target to focus on, but I do not buy it. The lizard chases the exec from Oscorp to the Williamsburg bridge only to totally forget about him afterwards and this exec vanishes into thin air. Then there is Peter revealing his secret identity to anyone who is willing to listen. What is that about?? The lizard looks like a mediocre version of TDK's Joker and the fight scenes looks a bit fake to say the least. The only thing better about this than the first Spider-Man was the fact that Peter develops the spiderweb catridges, that is it. I'd much much rather watch Spider-Man again and again.
Red Baron 2012/07/12 3:53 PM
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Saw it last night as a premier. Very weak script. Sound effects take over the whole film. Give me the original.
Renee 2012/07/13 10:46 AM
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While there were definitely problems with the script, I was thoroughly engrossed in this version of the origin story. And about 100% of that was due to Andrew Garfield who was simply incredible in the role of Peter Parker. His chemistry with Emma Stone was magical. Bring on the sequels!
P1373R 2012/07/13 11:09 AM
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yah, it sucked. I am a huge fan of the original trilogy (they aren't perfect) and this is an insult to the mythology of Spider-Man. I'm not hating on Andrew Garfield, but he looks like he came straight out of a boyband. Tobey Maguire of the trilogy personified geekiness to hero-ness and if it wasn't for the 3D (which was sadly underused) I would not have bothered to see this "reboot". WE DID NOT NEED A REBOOT.
ramiz 2012/07/13 6:57 PM
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The script is weak.. But the acting is a lot better than the sam raimi movies.Has some heart in it . It's a cool movie but cool isn't gonna cut it espescially aftet the avengers and then the dark knight rises hitting cinemas in weeks time.
Bring back Raimi 2012/07/17 11:28 AM
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We DIDNT need another reboot. Especially since the 1st trilogy was only done so recently! This script is badly written with too many plot-holes. Actors & 3D-effects aside, i definitely still prefer Tobey Maguire as the "real" Spiderman.
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