With the films based on Marvel Comics continuing success, their most famous creation (probably) wasn’t going to be away for too long. So with Andrew Garfield in the title role, we now have The Amazing Spider-Man; rebooting a character that was swinging around in films only a few years ago. Was it really necessary so soon? And could it live up to its imposing title?
A briefcase belonging to his absent father leads Peter Parker to the laboratory of Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), former colleague of Peter’s father, where the bite of a genetically-modified spider grants him strange powers. When another lab incident changes Connors into a dangerous Lizard, Peter needs all his new abilities to save New York; as Spider-Man.
Amazing shows how Peter’s development into Spider-man goes beyond simply wearing spandex. Garfield is charismatic, yet can do the gawky loner Peter stuff. Also when he moves as Spider-Man, he does it in a more spider-like manner than Tobey Maguire did. His chemistry with Emma Stone, as love-interest Gwen Stacy, is clear and their on-screen relationship is an improvement on the previous trilogy’s Mary Jane parts. Garfield made me care for Peter; although his antagonist, a giant Lizard, isn’t so great. I sympathised with Ifans’ portrayal of Conners, but the CGI Lizard looks a bit lousy; when the human went, so did my concern for him.
Sam Raimi’s recent Spider-Man work looms large over The Amazing Spider-Man (which was announced along with the cancellation of Raimi’s fourth Spider-Man film). Amazing is basically telling the same tale, with the same characters and beats, as Spider-Man (2002) and their first hours are so similar. It’s like giving two people the same Spider-man comic and asked them to tell you what happened in it. Sure, they’d be differences in the telling, but you’d get matching stories. Amazing has a darker colour palette, is more emotive and gives you a greater understanding of who Peter Parker/ Spider-Man really is, yet it lacks some of the wow factor that the brighter Raimi trilogy had. Overall it’s probably better than Spider-Man (2002), nevertheless its release and story are just too close to it.
Well acted, well told and enjoyable throughout, The Amazing Spider-Man is a damn good superhero film. However it really needed to give the franchise something different and more unique; with the origin now out of the way, hopefully the planned sequels will bring something genuinely fresh to an icon that has been around for 50 years. Amazing is not quite up there with the best superhero films, which would include 2004’s Spider-Man 2 (originally, and perhaps more fittingly, titled “The Amazing Spider-Man”), but it definitely lives up to the Spider-Man name.
- Jon Bartholomew