‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is the reboot of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise that changed the face of superhero films forever. The first in a planned trilogy of films we once again see the beginnings of Spider-Man and Peter Parker with a few changes to set up a different universe to the one we saw in the previous trilogy. The film follows Peter Parker, a smart high school student whose parents died in a plane crash at a young age leaving him to live with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Peter suffers from the usual issues high school brings with it, bullying, crushes and girls, but Peter also has a drive to find out what happened to his father and who he used to work with that caused him to leave. This results in a friendship with Curtis Connors, the man who used to work with Peters dad and also a worker for the mighty corporation Oscorp. The further Peter delves however the more he discovers for good and for bad. Read on…
It was always going to be a tough ride for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, its only been ten years since the first of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films and only five years since Spider-Man 3. Not everybody was buying into a reboot of such a successful franchise even if the last instalment of it was not the greatest. However there were some positives going into the film including a great young lead pairing of future stars Andrew Garfield (Never Let Me Go) and Emma Stone (The Help) and an incredibly strong supporting cast including Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen and Sally Field. A strong experienced cast to support an relatively inexperienced director would be needed with 500 Days of Summer being the only film in Marc Webb’s filmography. However when the lights went up at the end of this reboot there are many improvements to be made to what is an above average film that remains in the gigantic shadow of the previous Spider-Man films.
One of the main issues with this reboot is its incredibly poor pacing as stays in first gear for 90 minutes then suddenly shifts into fourth gear for the second half. If anything this is the inexperience of Marc Webb coming through having been thrust into directing a massive blockbuster film off of the back of a low key romantic drama, but it is not all his fault as the screenwriters must take some blame for failing to provide any key action sequences or a stronger more exciting build up in the first two acts of the film. As we follow Parker’s very slow progression to becoming Spider-Man we not only yearn for more to occur but we also realise it’s opening is not much different to that of Sam Raimi’s. Neither is darker than one another and no real effort has been made to try something vastly different, instead it is clear they decided to play it safe.
The upshot of this reboot is that we get some fresh faces in the acting line-up and we no longer have to put up with Mary Jane. Emma Stone is excellent as Gwen Stacey and Andrew Garfield plays Peter Parker well but there is definitely more to come from him, it felt like the character of Parker was far too restricted from conveying a wide range of emotions. For example the darker side of Peter should have been shown more in his search for the man who killed Uncle Ben but in his pursuit he goes from intense hunter to jovial mischief maker. As for the supporting cast all of them are fantastic in their roles and it provides that bit more depth to the emotional involvement in the film.
As mentioned prior the main bulk of the action is saved until the final act which when it arrives is really really good but until then the action is minimal and left wanting a lot, even Spider-Man swinging around the city does not occur as often as it should have. On the other hand when the action and excitement does arrive not only is it fun to watch but it looks good too as the special effects look very good, but despite the good look of everything there is just not enough of it spread throughout the film, watching Lizard rampage through the city was great to watch there just needed to be more. As for the story and plot though its not well paced the over arching story of Oscorp, Peters dad and Curtis Connors is a nice different take for Spider-Man to take and leaves a lot of questions to be answered in potential sequels. One of the more shockingly disappointing aspects of the action however was the 3D, despite some of the film being shot in the format it struggles to make an impact for most of the film. Just like the action being saved till the end, the best of the 3D occurs in the last act which is a little too late. As for its showing in IMAX again it was disappointing as the image remains letter boxed for the majority of the film until the climactic battle between Spidey and Lizard. When it changes to full screen IMAX it looks beautiful but there is just not enough of it.
Overall ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is not that amazing, it does well, looks good and has great acting but when placed against previous spider-man films and other contemporary super-hero films it struggles to compare. There is much much more to come from this franchise and all the set up work has been done now. If anything held this film back it was the very slow start of the film had but with Peter’s origins out of the way the path has been paved for more action and excitement which we should get from a Spider-man film. Hopefully Marc Webb has learned a lot from his experience with this film as he certainly has talent and hopefully now he has learned that with great power comes great responsibility, much like Peter Parker getting to grips with his powers, Webb is getting to grips with a bigger budget, cast, demand and fandom. Its a promising but stuttering start to a new trilogy but it could have been so much more than what was done here it felt like it was holding back a little to much. However The Snooty Usher does approve.