Words by Benjamin Pinsent
It has been five years since Spiderman 3 was released, and with it, came the destruction of what had been a critically and financially successful franchise. Now, Sam Rami’s Spiderman was not perfect, but both Spiderman and Spiderman 2 were probably, in my opinion, the best super hero movies of the early 2000’s. They had charm, style and, in Alfred Molina possibly the best movie villain, until Heath Ledger came and chewed Gotham in to a pulpy mess.
With Sony Pictures seeing Spiderman 3 as the death to a franchise that they wanted to keep, in fear that Disney and Marvel demanded their property back, they tossed everything Rami and started anew. This meant Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) as director. And relative newcomer Andrew Garfield (Never Let Me Go) playing the titular Amazing Spiderman. The franchise endured a fancy new makeover, of a high-tech New York, a new origin, girl and villain. And yet, one can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed.
No one can dispute the amount of talent behind the film: Garfield and Webb have been making great dramas and romances , slightly under main stream radar for a while; Emma Stone is as funny and charming as ever and Rhys Ifans … well we’ll get to him later. The talent is there but what went wrong?
Let’s start with the all new presentation; the previous director, Rami’s Spiderman was a combination of the campy golden age comic style and modern day, which made his Spiderman feel new. The epic music, composed by Danny Elfman was exciting and different.
But, from the opening theme of The Amazing Spiderman, I was slightly put off. Composed by James Horner (Troy), the music has none of that tension or magnitude which is fitting for this new outing. The main flaw with the film can be summed up like that, it’s a fun film but simply has none of the pazzaz that Rami gave to his versions. The film is reflected in a laughable sequence reminiscent of the train scene in Spiderman 2 occurs that might have been well meaning destroys what little credibility the film had.
This disappointment is continued to the characters, the main one being Curt Connors aka The Lizard, who design and character wise is a mess. No one knows what to do with him, they clearly have an overall villain in Norman Osborn but he is absent as the evil corporate villain until an after credit teaser. So the relatively nice Connors is upgraded to the main villain.
This is the first of many character flips for Rhys Ifans to try and pull of, as motives are brought up and tossed aside, then brought up again and sympathy is asked for right at the end. Ifans is a talented actor but there is a lack to his character, and it is plain to see that even he is struggling to work out what Connors is doing. The main pair are slightly better to watch, there is clear chemistry between the two as a couple.
As for Peter Parker there is a lack of understanding. No longer is Parker the nerd, but a maladjusted teenage outsider, mysterious with great hair… that sounds familiar. Parker is in essence an angst ridden teenager, not the hero he is supposed to be when Uncle Ben dies. He tries to track down the killer and rationalises what he does as crime fighting until a meeting with Denis Leary destroys his argument.
Even then it is not until the last twenty minutes of the movie that Parker realises the difference between heroism and pettiness. The Amazing Spiderman has no real grip on the nature of the character, Peter Parker ,who, in the comics is the most secretive superhero. But in the movie, he gives himself away all the time, he reveals himself to Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) from the get go, he takes his mask off to save a small child and his first patrol is done in a hoodie.
To summarise, The Amazing Spiderman is just confused, there are hints at something greater but it has a distinctly J.J.Abrams (Cloverfield) taste to it. The Lizard doesn’t know if he is a sympathetic anti-hero trying to change mankind for the better, or an evil reptilian who views regular humans as weak. Peter Parker and Spiderman are irresponsible and petty. And I have honestly forgotten the rest of the film apart from the banter that occurs between Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield.
It was a good, fun two hours but it doesn’t add anything new to the superhero movie, taking many aspects from better entries to the genre and disregarding its own source material.
The Amazing Spiderman is in cinemas across the U.K