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14 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Amazing, maybe The Consistently Solid Spider-Man? 7/10, 4 July 2012
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This review is from: The Amazing Spider-Man (DVD + UV Copy) [2012] (DVD)
Bias right off the bat I think it's ridiculously soon to reboot this series. What's the point in retelling the origins of Peter Parker/Spider-Man a mere ten years after Sam Raimi successfully brought Spidey to the bring screen and a mere 5 years after the critically divisive but box office smash Spider-Man 3? Well the point is money and as such I went into this with a healthy dose of scepticism coupled with a handful of mixed to good reviews (certainly weaker than the buzz for the first Spider-Man ten years ago). And yet I found myself being won over to this new incarnation on the strength of the performances of the central duo of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), the requisite humour we come to expect from a Spider-Man movie and the clever manner in which the key aspects of the characters origin are handled in a way that doesn't feel repetitive next to the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire version.

Once again we find Peter Parker attending High School, clashing with Flash Thompson a.k.a disposable high school jock type, awkwardly approaching a girl-next-door type (no Mary Jane in sight, this time we get blond bombshell Gwen Stacy played by the reliably excellent Emma Stone). Uncle Bens alive alongside Aunt May (played in the back round by Martin Sheen and Sally Field respectively). The key difference or "untold story" promised by the trailer is the role of Peter's deceased parents and his discovery of secrets pertaining to his father's work with scientist Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) that's sets the story in motion. Familiar beats are explored (Uncle Ben's arc, the famous Spidey-bite and subsequent new powers montage and a mad but inherently good scientist trying to save the world) but the shift in focus surrounding Peters father and the very different romantic dilemma with Gwen sets this movie apart from its predecessors.

Andrew Garfield nails the role despite any inherent disadvantages playing high school Peter at 28 with movie-star good looks. He brings a perfect blend of twitchy awkwardness to the Parker scenes but never plays him as a wimp, rather an introvert who's more comfortable on his skateboard or taking photos than approaching Gwen. Over in the suit he plays into humour fans of the cartoon series will recognise in a way that is more pronounced than in the Raimi trilogy. With his powers he is suitably heroic, cocky and has more than a touch of fun embarrassing the school bully (not unlike Raimi's movie but funnier). In this regard his work is at the very least on a par with Tobey Maguire's if not superior. We root for him and crucially the lead female role has a lot less screaming and a lot more back and forth with our hero. The scene where he tries asking her out for the first time is played awkwardly on both sides and early on Gwen knows his secret which ends up making her far more central to the action late on as opposed to being in need of a good saving. Be it Peter or her cop Dad (played very well by Dennis Leary) Gwen operates as her own character. Wittily written, beautifully acted and all round a very strong female lead. I just wished for more scenes with the two of them together but alas this is a blockbuster and backstory and action must take charge.

On this note I wonder how compelling a villain the lizard is. Rhys Ifans is a terrific actor and Connors has a potentially tragic story but it never feels fully fleshed out here in the way the villains in the first two Spider-Man films did. Once bad experiment related stuff occurs we lose Ifans to a massive computer generated lizard and while the creature maintains a level of consciousness (we hear the actor speak and see the character has clear motivations as opposed to animalistic carnage) there isn't enough meat on the bones. The connective tissue between Connors and Peter's father and their work together is never fully explored nor do we see anyone connected with Connors. In Raimi's films the Green Goblin/Norman Osborne was also Peter best friends Dad and a friend to Peter. As such his fate had emotional weight for both Peter and his son Harry. In this regard Connors great emotional wallop is what, trying to grow his arm back? Even the driven mad scientist angle was done far more satisfactorily in Spider-Man 2 (such comparisons are constantly invited given the short space of time between these movies).

So a mixed bag for sure but a better time at the cinema than I expected and considering the problems that arose from the last Spidey outing this reboot series getting a chance to fly won't do the summer seasons ahead any harm whatsoever. This is a good movie.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Jul 2012 18:43:01 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 Jul 2012 18:44:20 BDT
I was going to review this film but, on the whole I think you have hit the nails on the head, so I don't think I will bother. However, I will say that I would put this above the first Raimi film but below the other two (I think S-M3 is badly under rated, having some of the best action sequences of the series and some pretty good comic moments). The Lizard was poorly animated and the whole "good scientist goes bonkers because of experiment gone awry" was done so much better in S-M2. Other than that I couldn't really add anything.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jul 2012 02:02:12 BDT
Last edited by the author on 6 Jul 2012 02:08:27 BDT
Sam says:
Why thank you sir. I haven't had the courage to watch Spider-Man 3 since that deeply dissapointing trip to the cinema five years ago but on your recommendation I might give it a second look Saturday Night Live dancing Peter Parker and all.As for Amazing Spider-Man versus Raimi I'm not sure..Raimi had the advantage of coming first and I think between the two of them they handle whatever identical ground they share preety well (though Raimi's had a hand of strong supporting characters I'm not sure the latest version matches-Uncle Bens legacy, Aunt Mays very much in the backround, no Harry or J.Jonah " we can get a picture of Julia Roberts in a thong we can get this weirdo" Jameson. This one has Garfield and Stone who as I've said above I think are quite excellent, maybe a notch above Parker and Mary Jane from ten years ago. But looking at the villains I see no contest. Dafoe did his bug-eyed lunatic and caring (or absent depending on how you view it) father figure to both Harry and Peter. Dogey effects aside Raimi's one had a villain who made the stakes higher. I didn't feel that remotely applied to the lizard other than he might kill a significant someone in Peters life late on.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jul 2012 21:18:06 BDT
I should perhaps add that my interest in Raimi goes back to Evil Dead and Crime Wave days. If you have seen the latter you have a pretty good idea as to what Raimi's sense of humour is and it is pretty weird. That's why I think I "get" S-M3 so much. The bit where Harry is painting a still life makes me howl and most people don't even get that it's a joke.
I also liked all the things you mentioned about the new film, quite a lot actually, but disliked the same things too. So there you have it. Two people who agree in this crazy mixed up world, and I guess that amounts to a hill of beans. I'd better get on that plane.
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