This review has caused many internal struggles here at Popcornography. There is something that you should know about me. I love Spider-Man. As a chubby toddler I had many Spider-Man costumes and themed birthday parties. There may have even been a Spider-Man piñata… Anyway, I have watched every screen adaptation of the wall crawler, even the one that pre-empts Tobey’s iterations. I severely recommend you do not look up that particular adaptation. I expected, as a result, that this review would be somewhat biased. Despite this, I am surprised at how blasé I feel when drafting the review of The Amazing Spider-Man. It was entertaining yes indeed. But will it stand against Marvel’s significant success with Avengers, or the imminent new instalment of Vlermuisman? Unfortunately, no, it will not. There are various pitfalls as well as an overall familiar feeling that hinders The Amazing Spider-Man from reaching the heights anticipated by the Spidey reboot.
Director Marc Webb’s (fitting) adaptation of the Spider-Man franchise falls somewhat flat predominantly because the film feels so predictable. The Amazing Spider-Man relies heavily on plot points recycled from Raimi’s 2002 adaptation. This occurs because the origins of Spider-Man are once again retold. These plot points are dragged out over two hours and done so in far greater detail than what was previously done in approximately forty minutes of the original. This would be fine but the details that are significantly fleshed out remain unanswered and I found myself having trouble caring about them. I am tired of directors dangling carrots this season. What is going on? I am not a donkey. Essentially, The Amazing Spider-Man feels like a repackaged version of Raimi’s original and thus fails to deliver on the expectations generated by media hype. Secondly, the world seems to have gone insane over super hero movies that are set in realism. Gone are the days of the overly stylized Gotham city or the concept illustrations that are pulled directly from their comic origins. Nowadays the trend is to retell super hero stories, make them plausible and portray them in a universe with ever increasing amounts of grit and realism. The Dark Knight succeeds in this regard tremendously with its “real world” design. However, in terms of the Spider-Man character this doesn’t quite make sense.
Sexy Screenshot Number 1:
Sexy Screenshot Number 2:
Sexy Screenshot Number 3:
It pains me to say this but I was very unhappy to revisit the Spider-Man origins. Batman was in dire need of a reboot after how ridiculous the last instalment became. Remember Doctor Freeze and Poison Ivy? What was that about? Concurrently, as horrific as Spider-Man 3 was (see The Amazing Spider-Man Preview), redoing the Spider-Man origins was a mistake. Uncle Ben is back with his responsibility lectures, there is high school bullying, Peter acquires/masters his powers, the villain initially concerned with the greater good turns evil etc. Does this all sound familiar? It should. If I have to hear about Uncle Ben dying one more time, I am going to spin in circles and scream. When this plot line began to play out during screening, I thought to myself, surely not again? This very linear and predictable Spider-Man plot I can recite in my sleep and it definitely does not make any of my (spider) senses tingle. Was it really necessary to repackage the Spidey origins when this had been adequately portrayed in the not too recent past in Spider-Man 1 and 2? In terms of a franchise reboot you want new angles, plot points, direction etc. Webb gives you the same repackaged story and despite the fact that is done very well, it is just too familiar and thus (dare I say it) boring.
Which Uncle Ben are you again?
The Amazing Spider-Man, however, is still very entertaining and in some ways surpasses the direction taken by the original tenfold. Andrew Garfield really impressed me in his portrayal of the character. He has a slightly different take on Spidey and this is quite refreshing. Even without his powers, Peter will stand up against school bullies and is portrayed as a far more angst ridden teen than old nerdy Tobey was back in 2002. Spider-Man, himself, is also portrayed in a more realistic way. He is now vulnerable and gets hurt… A LOT. In fact I struggle to remember moments when Garfield is not beaten, bruised and/or bleeding. Shame, Spidey really does have a rough time in this flick.
Peter, you are bleeding.
Peter, why are you still bleeding?
Peter spends a fortune on band aids.
Oh, and Peter skates now. Angsty.
Emma Stone, to put it simply, makes it unbelievably difficult not to adore her. The introduction of Gwen Stacy as opposed to Mary Jane is refreshing and true to the original comics. Her inclusion adds to the authenticity of the new iteration and is perhaps the only interesting aspect of the new origin story. Garfield and Stone are amazing together. Their quirky, yet endearing emotional development is fantastic and perhaps my favourite part of the reboot. Considering that Webb’s other projects include 500 Days of Summer, the love relationship between the protagonists is very similar with regard to its cutesy and offbeat development. When Emma Stone guffaws, I become weak at the knees. She is just so lovely. I love her.
Endearing, offbeat and cutesy romance is the best kind of romance.
Uncle Ben and Aunt May give fair performances. Peter and Uncle Ben’s relationship is not as well explained as in the original. The only time I found myself interested in Uncle Ben’s rebooted death was when Sally Field breaks down. When Sally Field is distressed, my heart bleeds. Nora Walker knows how to evoke emotion and does so tremendously.
Please don’t cry Sally.
The villain which appears in The Amazing Spider-Man is the Lizzard who unfortunately falls prey to typical Spider-Man-villain rules.
Step 1: Good scientist trying to aid the world.
Step 2: Oh dear, horrific accident.
Step 3: Oops, I’m now a mutant.
Step 4: Darn. Cue the rampaging.
Does this still come across as tragic? Sadly not. The way in which he speaks to himself towards the end of the movie is very reminiscent of Norman Osborn or the schizophrenic Green Goblin played by Willem Dafoe from the original. The Lizzard is also done entirely through CGI and looks merely adequate at the best of times. The Spider-Man universe is filled to the brim with many villains with interesting backgrounds. Webb could have drawn from any of these. However, the Lizzard is, once again, just more of the same and as a result is not very interesting. Rhys Ifans does a fair job in portraying the character, however, I left feeling very underwhelmed in terms of the villain.
You mean premature human testing wasn’t successful? What?!
Another little issue occurred towards the end of the movie when some friendly construction workers decide to help Spider-Man. Not only have we seen the public help the hero’s quest in previous iterations, this particular sequence unfortunately resulted in giggles as opposed to cheers. I hate cheesy moments such as these. It isn’t exactly a deal breaker but this scene is irritating. I was irritated. I am now irritated again thinking about it.
There is a lesson to be learnt here. For reboots to be successful, a director doesn’t have to go dark like Christopher Nolan. Not everything has to be dripping in grit and realism. The new Superman film, Man of Steel (being directed by Zack Snyder) will most likely fall prey to this trend as Snyder is known for his stylized and course films i.e. 300, Sin City, Suckerpunch etc. Marvel’s Avengers was so refreshing because it didn’t follow this currently trending guideline. Sadly, The Amazing Spider-Man did. As much as I enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man, I feel that going back to origins story 101 was unnecessary and wasn’t told in a manner which was particularly interesting or unique. I know in my preview, I bashed Tobey considerably. I feel bad. Sorry Tobey. Tobey is still the definitive Spider-Man and, in my mind, his origins story was sufficient. Perhaps with the origins out of the way, Webb’s next installment may be more along the lines of what a reboot should be. We can only hope. It’s not going to change lives and it definitely won’t surpass the next installment of Vlermuisman but is it the most entertaining thing currently on circuit? Yes definitely.
Check out The Amazing Spider-Man trailer: