For most of the year I have not been looking forward to The Amazing Spider-Man. The fact that the film was only made so Columbia didn’t lose the rights to the series to Marvel was bad enough but the trailers made the film look awful, filled with the pre-destiny rubbish that is not right for Spider-Man. But when I watched the film I found it to be okay but nothing really amazing.
Firstly I feel like I should give my thoughts on the Sam Raimi Spider-Man series. I thought Spider-Man 1 was okay, nothing more, nothing less. Spider-Man 2 was a brilliant film, the set piece on the train was incredible and Alfred Molina was a brilliant Dr Octopus. Spider-Man 3 (shield up) I thought was brilliant as well, hate me all you like but I found the changes to Peter made by the black suit really fit the character and Sandman was brilliantly done, both as a character and an effect. This new Spider-Man film really takes after Spider-Man 1 (fittingly seeing as how this is a reboot of the series) and I feel that it handled some aspects of the origin better than the Raimi film but there were still problems.
Let’s start of with the positives, the cast is excellent. Andrew Garfield makes a great Spider-Man providing the powerful emotions of the character whilst also bringing in the jokey elements from the original comics that were lacking in the Raimi films and the scenes of him finding out about his powers are really funny (although one of these bits is lifted right out of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, not a good place to take scenes from). Emma Stone is great as Gwen Stacey, mainly through her comic timing and she has a brilliant chemistry with Garfield with some of their dialogue scenes together being a better portrayal of teenage love than actual high school movies and it’s clear that Marc Webb knows how to film this type of stuff, after all he got his break break with the romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer. It also helps that Gwen Stacey is one of the best written love interests in a superhero film, not a constant dumb-ass in distress, she’s smart, she’s able to defend herself against the Lizard and this puts Mary Jane in the Raimi films to shame. Dennis Leary and Sally Field are exactly how you expect their characters to be and Rhys Ifans does the best he can with a poorly written character (more on that later). The stand-out though is Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben. Sheen is perfect casting for the role, bringing in the heart of the character and the love he feels towards Peter along with a great sense of humour through his line delivery making Uncle Ben a really likeable character and you feel sad when he dies (not giving anything away there). These performances allow the film to be really funny, which could have gone disastrously wrong if done by worse actors with the stand-out scene, not just in humour but in the film being the Stan Lee cameo, easily his best cameo yet in a film.
Also on the positive side are the web-slinging effects which are incredible. They bring in a real sense of depth and really show off the athletic ability of Spider-Man through the camera movements and the CGI effects. This is the main area in which this film is superior to the Raimi films as in those films, there was never a real sense of depth of weight in the web-slinging scenes, they always felt artificial and cartoonish, especially in the first film. Unfortunately thought, these scenes are the only good scenes involving CGI in the film.
The problems with the CGI in any scenes aside from the web-slinging scenes also combine with the main problem of the film, The Lizard. Not only is the CGI used to create the Lizard laughably bad (I literally burst out laughing the first time Lizard showed up in the film the effects were that bad) but the character of the Lizard has no real motivation for his actions. It’s just like, Connors turns into the Lizard and immediately wants to destroy humanity with no real reason for his actions, at least not one that makes sense and provides good character development and this is such a shame as the character of Curt Connors before he becomes the Lizard is fantastic, a tortured soul trying for year to grow his arm back so he can live a normal life but the actions of Oscorp mean that he cannot achieve his full potential in trying to cure himself. There is also a scene lifted right from Raimi’s Spider-Man in which Lizard debates with himself over his actions but where Raimi uses this to show the split personality in Norman Osborne, in this film there is no argument over the actions, Lizard just agrees and that’s the end of it. It also has to be said that the action scenes involving the Lizard are pretty bad, not helped by the bad CGI with the final fight scene being especially bad with there being no good choreography or CGI to make the action worth watching with the only exception being the fight at the school and that’s more due to the brilliant camera-work that the actual staging of the fight itself (although at least they remembered that Lizard grabs Spider-Man with his tail).
The story of the film is also a mixed bad, while the stuff between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey is excellent, there are some parts of the story which don’t make much sense. Firstly there is the main problem that the main philosophy of Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility,” is never said in the film and in fact, the last line spoken by Peter in the film goes completely against the character of Spider-Man, including this main philosophy. The character of Flash Thompson is, for some reason, a rival to Peter at the start of the film and then has his respect at the end and I didn’t know where this change in character came from. Then there’s the fact that some characters and plot-points vanish from the film, the main examples being that the hunt for Uncle Ben’s killer is completely ignored after the first Lizard attack and also after this attack the character of Dr Ratha, the main link to the obvious sequel bait of the Green Goblin being the villain in the next film, vanishes from the film with there being no more sequel baiting until the post-credits scene. Then there is the Crane Scene, if you’ve seen the film you know which scene I’m talking about, and it is the most cringe-worthy, poorly executed scene out of any Spider-Man film and I am including the dance scene in Spider-Man 3, it is that bad. It’s meant to be a stand up and cheer moment but the execution of the scene is so bad that it comes close to destroying the credibility of the film.
In conclusion, despite there being some severe problems in the film with the plot, the strength of the acting, the dialogue and the web-slinging scenes save the film from being a disaster and I overall thought it was an okay film and, with a bit of work of the plot for the sequels, we could potentially see a great Spider-Man film in the future.
My Rating: 3/5