The Amazing Spider-Man Movie
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field
Minor plot SPOILERS
There’s a lot of bad blood between Spidey and movie audiences since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, a film that quite rightly holds a spot on many “Worst Superhero Move Ever” lists. So it is with trepidation that we greet Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Coming only five years after Spider-Man 3, many have questioned the need to reboot so soon. However even fans have to admit that on many levels Spider-Man movie series was horribly broken. Shallow characterisations, repetitive story lines and an astonishingly moist cast (seriously, Tobey Maguire seemed like he was going to start spontaneously dribbling for a full two-thirds of his screen time) had made a possible return to Raimi’s Spiderverse sound more like a chore than a treat. Even the very bedrock of Spider-man’s personality was wrong from the start; Peter Parker wasn’t a quipping, relatable teen science geek but rather an unlikable, annoying dork who was still in high school despite being clearly thirty. I’m a lifelong Spidey fan and believe it or not I actually like those movies but even I kind of wanted to pick on him. Not everything about Raimi’s movies was wrong (J.K. Simmons as J.Jonah Jameson is sublime, as is Alfred Molina) but it was Raimi’s Spider-Man, not Marvel’s and certainly not the one I grew up with. The damage done by the trilogy would seem to be irreversible and that iteration of Spider-Man a lost cause.
Marc Webb et al have not only fixed all of this for us but given us something far better than we had: a true Spider-man movie. Starring Spider-man. As in Peter Parker. You know, from the comics?
Andrew Garfield’s Peter is vulnerable and compelling, his blossoming romance with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) evoking awkward, powerful, infuriating first love in a way that is never schmaltzy or contrived. Their chemistry is undeniable and hopefully they will have many chances to revisit it, be it as these characters or in unrelated projects. Garfield also plays Spidey to the hilt as the Geek Id Unleashed, obviously having an absolute blast. It’s a mystery why the previous films almost completely excised Spidey’s jokey, quippy nature which is such a vital element of his character and it’s wonderful to see it returned (and a relief to find that he’s actually funny. That could have gone horribly wrong).
Of course there’s a lot more to Spider-Man than just Spider-Man and we have plenty to be thankful for all around. Rhys Ifans is wonderful as Curt Connors AKA The Lizard a terrifically fun villain in a classic “well-meaning mad scientist” mold. Martin Sheen as Peter’s Uncle Ben packs such nobility and warmth into relatively little screen time that you’ll wish he was your uncle and Denis Leary as the police captain who doesn’t much care for masked vigilantes reins in the rantiness and delivers a measured but still funny performance. Sally Field’s Aunt May is sweet but perhaps a touch underwritten, hopefully there will be plenty of chances to fix that in the many sequels this cast and crew deserve.
Where Raimi gave us an adaptation of Spider-Man, Marc Webb has given us Spider-Man. I for one couldn’t be happier.
Review by Kev Weldon
The obvious comparison is with the previous movie series. This is a fresh reboot, telling a different version of the story entirely and there are a number of differences in style and characterisation as well as certain events along the way.
Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is a totally different character to Toby Maguire’s. He’s a cocky skater who comes off as rather unlikable early on, and he doesn’t really get all that much better towards the end. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy works, but I’m not really sure why she pays any attention to Peter Parker other than to annoy her father (Dennis Leary playing Dennis Leary… I mean Captain Stacy). Rhys Ifans I normally detest, but as Dr. Curt Connors he manages to be only mildly irritating. The star performance is definitely Martin Sheen, who delivers Uncle Ben’s lines with conviction and emotion and really sells the idea of the character as being more than a footnote to Spider-man’s origin story.
Overall the movie is fun but there’s not a huge amount to it that we haven’t seen before. Sure there are a few bits of 3D and some amusing moments such as Fred the mouse and quite possibly the best Stan Lee cameo thusfar but they don’t make up for the “SSDD” effect of the whole movie. In a year that has already brought us The Avengers, which is still in the cinemas, I kind of have to wonder… why not next summer? It’s a good film, but it’s suffering from the comparison and it feels like a missed opportunity in some ways. It’s kind of hard to pin down how to rate it as a movie due to the proximity of such a behemoth and I think I’m probably being unfair but I have to be honest: “It’s no Avengers”. Few movies are though.
As usual, stay after the credits roll.
Review by Teknogrot