Spoiler Free The Amazing Spider-Man Review
Ok, so we know the comic book super hero movie you really want to see is The Dark Knight Rises, but look its The Amazing Spider-Man. Well no, it hasn’t got anything to do with those films a few years ago and no it got nothing to do with The Avengers. Why? Well there’s contracts and legal stuff, you wouldn’t be interested in the paperwork. But look he shoots webs and swings, listen you can have The Dark Knight Rises after you finish The Amazing Spider-Man, deal?
Marc Webb’s reboot of the Spider-Man franchise has managed to slip under the radar somewhat of most this year. In a world where the Avengers Assembled to have smash box office records and when Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy reaches its conclusion its difficult to see where New York’s friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man fits in. Well they may well have found their niche, what The Amazing Spider-Man has that none of the Marvel films nor Nolan’s Batman movies have is a relatable, interesting and downright adorable romantic relationship at its very core.
Andrew Garfield stars as the intelligent yet isolated Peter Parker. Abandoned by his parents, Peter is raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May (Martin Sheen and Sally Field) but lives with the nagging feeling of resentment towards his missing parents. As you would expect Peter finds it difficult in school, whether it’s getting beat up by the resident High School jock Flash Thompson to harbouring a secret crush for science whiz and saucer-eyed minx Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).
Of course Parker’s life is turned upside down once he is bitten by a genetically engineered (not radioactive) spider. From that point we see Parker’s inevitable growth from wise cracking wall crawler to crime fighter, if you’re aware of Spider-Man lore in any way, shape or form then you’ll know how his character develops. There are hints at a bigger story at play, but thankfully they try to focus the film on Peter and Gwen and whether they can overcome themselves, let alone The Lizard (Rhys Ifans) and Gwen Stacy’s disapproving father Police Captain Stacy (Denis Leary).
The Amazing Spider-Man is not without its problems, the marketing has banged on about “the untold story” and “learning the truth” of Peter Parker and his parents. In reality we hit pretty much every character beat in the first half an hour that you would expect in a Spider-Man origin story. Plus as the film begins to ramp up the action and the romance a lot of those early plot elements are dropped all together. One way of thinking about it is remember when you were 17 years old; everything else in the world went out of the window when faced with the chance of a smooch with a beautiful girl. This does make the first act of the film feel a little redundant; thankfully Garfield and Stone carry these earlier sections of the wonderfully.
The Lizard is another of the films issues, the CGI looks, well like CGI and never once does The Lizard actually look part. It’s especially ropey when The Lizard starts to talk, you can’t help but shake the fact that he looks almost identical to a Goombar from the Bob Hoskins “Super Mario Bros”. Rhys Ifans does his best with the voice acting but the overall effect feels rush and even cheap in parts.
Marc Webb provides a similar tone to his 2009 breakthrough film 500 Days of Summer and he allows the obvious chemistry between Garfield and Stone shine on-screen. Webb adds an offbeat romantic feeling to the whole picture, which helps to differentiate it from the deluge of super hero films we’ve had in the last few years. The pair of them are beyond adorable together, it’s a really thin line to walk this could have very easily felt forced or even sickly sweet , thankfully the natural charm and the complete ease they have with each other keeps the film and its central relationship on the right side of engaging. Of course a lot of questions will be asked about Garfield’s performance as titular character, well he pretty much knocks it out of the park, Garfield’s Spider-Man genuinely appears to having the time of his life swinging around the city, even in the most dire of circumstances.
The Amazing Spider-Man manages to take all the elements of the character we love from the comics and TV shows and breathes new life into them. Hopefully this incarnation of “Ol’ Webhead” will really take off, while it falls just shy of being a truly great film it was still two of the most enjoyable hours I’ve spent in a cinema this year and really you can’t ask for more than that from a comic book movie.
Down With Film Rating 8/10