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Published on June 29th, 2012 | by Micheál Murphy

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Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Perhaps the best way to start is to tell you to block the last decade of Spider-Man movies from your mind and treat The Amazing Spider-Man as it is, a complete revamp of the Spider-Man franchise.

In 2005, Christopher Nolan started a new wave of films with Batman Begins, where the story is as important, if not more important, than the superhero and his trials. We get strong characterisation, drama and a full story and this theme has run into the reincarnation of Marvel’s most famous superhero, as directed by Marc Webb (And I can’t not say something about how awesomely apt his surname is!).

If anyone has heard of Spider-Man, they know the story of his origins. Peter Parker, a high school student who lives with his aunt and uncle, gets bitten by radioactive spider and develops super powers. This awkward teenager gains the ability to crawl up walls, develops super strength and a warning system allowing him (usually) to get out of harm’s way.

This Peter Parker is a genius and can create machines enabling him to shoot webs from his wristwatch, a nod to the original comic adventure. He goes on to abuse his powers to get back at the people who’ve bullied him (in a series of comical moments), until his uncle is killed by a thief he could have stopped and learns that he must use his powers for good (and a bit of vengeance, to track down the thief).

This story actually starts ten years earlier in Peter’s parents’ house. There is a break-in and his parents panic and bring him to his aunt (May) and uncle’s (Ben) house, but not before we get many glimpses of a mysterious briefcase and envelope. And then mam and dad disappear off into the night. That’s Peter’s childhood covered.

Peter grows up, goes to school, chronicles school life with his camera, and has a crush on the incredibly intelligent and kind Gwen Stacy. That’s Peter’s current life covered.

A half hour of dialogue and character development later and Peter is finally bitten by a radioactive spider, while he is sneaking around the antogonist Dr Connors’ lab. That’s our Spider-Man origin covered.

There’s the discovery, the winning, the losing, the development of costume and creed. All within a very funny 15 minutes.

Andrew Garfield IS Spider-Man. He embodies the nerdy teenager, who is never seen without his camera. Once he becomes the superhero, and realises he’s that much stronger and faster than people, he begins to get more confident, but is still highly endearing as we watch him woo Gwen Stacy. She can turn him into a bumbling idiot who can barely string two words together. That’s as Peter Parker. As the masked superhero, he’s a wise-cracking anonymous do-gooder, even if he has yet to achieve his aim of hunting down the man who killed his uncle.

Rhys Ifans as The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors somehow manages to capture the schizophrenic nature of a man who isn’t necessarily bad, just conflicted.

The love interest Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone) is the daughter of Police Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) and he is no fan of Spider-Man, who is a menace to society in his eyes. Whoo, conflict!

Ben and May, played by Martin Sheen and Sally Field were just perfectly cast, (not that there was anyone miscast). However, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that, for me, Sally Field just stole it. Perhaps it’s because she reminds me of my own mother, but she played her part to perfection (she got involved because she wanted to work with one of the producers a final time – random trivia).

Well. My actual view on the film: I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan. Drama is great, comedy is great, a good romance is great. But The Amazing Spider-Man is a Spider-Man film! In the 136 minutes of the film I’d hazard a guess that there are about 20-odd minutes of action and ‘Spider-Man’ bits.

The first hour is slow, designed to draw the audience in. When people go to this genre, they tend to go for the action. Don’t get me wrong, the action (when it finally got around to it) is great, the cinematography is stunning, the stunts incredible. But there’s just not enough of it.

Spider-Man is one of the best superheroes. He can climb walls, jump incredible distances, swing from a web. As a film-maker, why wouldn’t you utilise it more? Perhaps try to get through the back-story in a shorter time. However, this is the first of three in a new Spiderman cinematic franchise and in the future instalments there will be less backstory and hopefully some tying up of the many loose ends. Maybe the web swinging and clever one-liners will be brought on faster.

 

The Amazing Spider-Man DOES have something for everyone and definitely has to be seen, so the healing can begin after the travesty of Spider-Man 3. So do go see it. Just don’t expect to be able to shut your brain off and sit back for two-odd hours. You’ll need to pay attention.

 

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About the Author

If you want to follow Micheál on Twitter you can find him here - @MickyMurphy22. It's nothing particularly interesting, just anything on the mind goes in.



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