When I first watched The Amazing Spider-Man I hated it. It just didn’t feel right to me, I didn’t like the attempt to add darkness and intrigue to the character and I said as much. Re-watching it recently (hey, I still had to buy it on Bluray), I realised that it’s a solid, if flawed, superhero movie. Yet, it will never quite shake off the sense that it was never, ever needed. Okay, so we have the aptly-monikered Marc Webb directing this time around, but that’s not good enough reason to reboot a franchise that had given audiences hugely successful instalments in 2002, 2004 and 2007. No matter what you think of the Sam Raimi movies (and I really like them), they were there for everyone to enjoy up until very recently and, judging by the box office results alone, people DID enjoy them.
Regardless, here we are. Andrew Garfield is in the role of Peter Parker this time, Martin Sheen and Sally Field play Uncle Ben and Aunt May respectively, Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy, Rhys Ifans is Dr. Curt Connors (due to become The Lizard), Denis Leary is Captain Stacy, policeman and father of Gwen, and the stage is set for more web-slinging, high-swinging antics.
In fact, I’ve already covered the best thing about this film. The cast. I liked Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco et al. in the Sam Raimi films, but the cast here make for quite a dream ensemble and I was especially stoked to see Garfield in the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
The rest of the movie isn’t bad, not by a long shot, but it just feels completely superfluous. It’s an origin story coming along too soon after we were already given a pretty good origin story. The character of Parker/Spidey IS better this time around, cheekier and closer to the wisecracking character from the comics (which should please fans), but he’s stuck in amongst a lot of scenes that just feel lifted from the other movies and the new stuff is the stuff that doesn’t work. Whether it has already appeared in the comics or not, I don’t care for a Spider-Man given a darker back-story about whatever his parents might have been up to. The character can, of course, have dark moments, I just don’t like the feeling that some studios are now trying to give their superhero movies that “Nolan finish”.
The special effects aren’t always so special, the action sequences aren’t always as good as they could be and there are one or two dollops of extra cheese in the mix, but the script (by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves) has some snappy lines throughout, a lot of the character movement improves upon previous performances and it still manages to be a fun film for fans of the character. I’m tentatively looking forward to the sequel.
DIRECTOR: MARC WEBB
WRITER: JAMES VANDERBILT, ALVIN SARGENT, STEVE KLOVES
STARS: ANDREW GARFIELD, EMMA STONE, RHYS IFANS, DENIS LEARY, MARTIN SHEEN, SALLY FIELD, IRRFAN KHAN, CAMPBELL SCOTT, EMBETH DAVIDTZ, CHRIS ZYLKA, STAN LEE
RUNTIME: 136 MINS APPROX