Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man
The problem with rebooting any film that only came out originally in the last 15 years is that the reboot will inevitably draw comparison with the original. That is to The Amazing Spider-Man’s fault; it is impossible to watch without comparing to Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man. However, The Amazing Spider-Man, directed by (500) Days of Summer’s Marc Webb, manages to retell what is essentially the same story with enough changes to actually warrant a watch.
The story features much of the same plot points as the original; Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is still a geeky high schooler, although Tobey Maguire was more of a traditional nerd, whereas the annoyingly handsome Garfield is just more awkward. His Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) still gets shot by a mugger, leading to Parker making the choice to fight evil. And, there’s still a love interest Parker stalks, although rather than the wooden Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, we get the always good Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey.
When comparing it to Spider-Man, it is actually quite difficult to decide which the better film is. Both films have flaws, and both films have excellent moments. One thing I did realise watching TAS-M was that I have definitely overlooked Tobey Maguire’s performance of Parker. I always felt that Maguire was too whiny to play the superhero, but I realise now he was actually charmingly nerdy. Garfield is a terrific actor, and holds the emotional scenes together, but he’s just too normal to play Parker, and so it’s hard to work out why he is so unpopular in the first section of the film. Spider-Man was definitely more fun as a film, but The Amazing Spider-Man is certainly a great superhero adventure, and just about manages to avoid being “too dark” as most superhero films are these days.
The acting is good all around. Garfield is charming, and really gets to show off his full range in the big emotional scenes. Stone is slightly underwritten, but is instantly a better character than Mary Jane; feisty, loveable and not simply a damsel in distress. Martin Sheen, meanwhile, gives another fantastic performance as Uncle Ben. Bringing warmth and authority, he is the highlight of the film, and his death scene is truly emotional. Also, Rhys Ifans gives a solidly hammy performance as Curtis Connors. He’s completely underwritten and never gets the big showcase you hope he will, but he’s menacing enough, although his CGI counterpart is disappointing (it seems CGI villains are always the worst).
There’s lots of great action to be had in a film like this, and the FX team don’t disappoint. Swinging from cranes, fighting a giant web, sliding down skyscrapers; The Amazing Spider-Man is a blockbuster through and through. The fight scenes are also great, and very physical, especially a scene in which Spider-Man takes on numerous criminals at the same time, with some The Raid-style combat. It is also has a solid amount of blood and violence for a 12 certificate film, with Garfield showing a good amount of vulnerability, and so the audience actually feels a sense of danger for the hero.
While The Amazing Spider-Man may make you question what studios will do for money these days, it is not completely pointless; it features good acting, good action scenes and a sense of fun not often seen in superhero films anymore. It may not be an original, and it may not be up there with contemporaries like The Dark Knight Rises and Avengers Assemble, but it is a fun family blockbuster that offers an enjoyable two hours of viewing.
By Harry Ford