I was the girl who about a year ago said it’s too early for a new Spider-Man film – despite the fact that it has been five years since the last one, and ten since the first. I’ll admit, I was even sceptical about Andrew Garfield playing Peter Parker – he’s just so different from Tobey Maguire: taller, darker, toned, less likely to cry. As far as the first three characteristics go, the new spidey is more faithful to the comics. And that is precisely one of the defining features of The Amazing Spider-Man. I certainly haven’t read over a hundred issues of this comic but, like anyone else, I do my homework. However, the more I researched, the more I realised this is a rather complex one (with the whole different worlds, writers and reboots thing), so if you’re a Spider-Man connoisseur and spot an error, I’d be happy to fix it.
The film goes back to the beginning of this hero’s story, when Peter Parker was a brilliant high-school student but a mess of a boy: he’s shy, clumsy, and overall shaky; but his heart is in the right place, and one thing he is not is a coward. So his somewhat-misplaced-in-time* crush, Gwen Stacy, sees something in him that apparently no one else but his uncle and aunt see (he appears to have no friends, I just noticed that). This is the first big change: not just that Mary Jane doesn’t exist yet but also that, unlike MJ, Gwen falls in love with Peter, not Spider-Man. This makes for a much more compelling story that will certainly please the fans, for it provides the opportunity to explore his human life.
Indeed Webb’s reboot focuses more on Peter’s daily life, personal issues and struggle with becoming Spider-Man: we’re provided some insight into his parents death (though not too much, that will be left for the sequel) and how did radioactive spiders appear, which makes for a more believable, interesting and stronger story foundation; he is flawed, at times insecure, has an attitude and is somewhat irresponsible, just like every teenager; on top of that, there’s a guilt complex that initially shakes his moral compass, and the sort of bold irreverence that makes him mock his opponents – a classic component that drives his enemies mad, and that is nicely depicted in the film. All of this makes for that wonderful cocktail of colourful with a touch of dark that any Spider-Man fan loves – so it is nice to see a slightly grimmer take on the story.
Speaking of grim, from all those years watching the Spider-Man animated series, two awesome villains stuck with me: the Lizard, and Venom (my favorite, just because it looked really scary). I’m sure not many saw british actor Rhys Ifans as a potential villain, much less as the Lizard, but it was refreshing to see him in a entirely serious role, even malicious. But I wasn’t crazy about the way they designed the villain. Emma Stone also took on a more dramatic role than usual, and certainly delivers the goods. Her chemistry with actor Andrew Garfield is palpable, something that, yet again, provides that human side we all crave for in our heroes. I’d say at times they are a bit too grown-up for seventeen year olds, though. And with an all-star supporting cast, it’s easy to achieve the necessary character development in just a few scenes – when you got Denis Leary, Martin Sheen and Sally Field it’s hard to go wrong.
Technically it does more with 3D than any of the films I’ve watched (no, I haven’t seen Avatar), but I’m yet to see a film that fully uses this technology. Seriously speaking, the 3D commercials where stuff is floating right in front me are far more entertaining than the following two hours. But overall it’s got a nice imagery, the suit looks really good (Garfield fills it nicely), not as faithful to the original, experts say, but it makes up for it with the mechanical web shooters (which are far more believable than the organic ones), and a spot on characterisation both psychical and psychological of our hero.
There are indeed a few moments that will resonate Sam Raimi‘s films, though I’m sure it’s impossible to avoid some of them. Either way, this didn’t bother me at all, in fact it got me excitingly thinking oh, I remember that!. Not just around uncle Ben’s death (which may have been a bit overlooked, yes), but also the voices in the Lizard’s head. There’s no epic with great power comes great responsibility, but I suppose I get why – even though it’s from the comics and not an original of Raimi’s version, I think it would be too evocative, perhaps. Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man is not without flaws, but it’s pretty great.
* From what I could gather Gwen Stacy appears for the first time as a college classmate.