Friday, 6 July 2012

Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Spider-man returns to theatres in this exciting reboot

Long-awaited by myself and thousands of other Spider-man fans, The Amazing Spider-Man finally web-swung into cinemas this week after months of anticipation. With an excited fan-base ready for a film Spidey closer to his comic counterpart and some serious talent both on camera and off, the sky was the limit for this reboot. Did it live up to expectations?

  In short, yes. The film re-covers the origin story of Spider-Man as was told in Sam Raimi’s original film only ten years ago, but keeps Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) in high school, following him as he is bitten, comes to terms with both the great power and the great responsibility (these words aren’t actually spoken by the way, and are sorely missed) he is left with, falls in love with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), tries to discover what actually happened to his long-dead parents and dabbles in cross-species genetics with the soon-to-be-Lizard Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). If that sounds like a lot for one film to cover, that’s because it is. I kept that in one sentence to show just how frantic and fractured this film could have been, but somehow director Marc Webb has managed to hold everything together.

  The glue of The Amazing Spider-Man turns out to be the relationship between Peter and Gwen, both played to perfection by Garfield and Stone. Each scene with them sparks with chemistry and watching them fall in love is easily one of the most engaging of the many subplots.

  Emma Stone is impossible to ignore in every scene she is in, and Andrew Garfield pours everything into his portrayal of the Web-head. We see him at his highest, and at his lowest, and Garfield never pulls his punches. His Spidey is highly intelligent, filled with guilt, but always quick-witted and constantly throwing out one liners. He is, essentially, just like the comics. While Toby Maguire did a good job at the time, he never felt quite right for the role in my opinion. Garfield nails it.

  Supporting the two main players are four tremendous actors. Martin Sheen’s Uncle Ben is kind, but stern and Sheen plays the part fantastically, while Sally Field puts everything into her role as Aunt May where she mostly just has to look worried for Peter. Denis Leary plays the protective father of Gwen, Captain George Stacy, and his arc is one of the most fully formed in the film. Finally, Rhys Ifans takes the role of chief baddie, managing to come across as both sympathetic and despicable, capable of making your skin crawl without you ever really being sure why.

 The special effects are mostly top notch. Spidey darts through the air with the right amount of velocity and enjoyment, and Webb’s decision to actually keep Garfield in the costume as much as possible to make it actually seem like it’s an untrained kid behind the mask works well as the stunts all look very believable. The effects falter slightly with the Lizard however, as he never quite fits into the scene. His humanoid face looks out of place with the full Lizard body and the parts when he spoke were rather laughable. I understand the reasons Webb took this approach, but definitely think his face should have made a full transition to lizard form.

  If I had any other complaints with the film, it’s that a few plot points introduced in the first hour are dropped in favour of using them in the sequel. One point in particular feels hastily dropped once the Lizard appears and I think it is a rather vital part of the origin story.

 Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man succeeds in its goals. The cast are all fantastic and their performances and the script hold the film up amongst other recent super hero outings. Hollywood, take note. Since you seem insistent on rebooting everything, this is how to it.

- Paul Brown


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