The Amazing Spider-man (2012)

Abandoned by his parents as a child without explanation, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has spent the years since searching for answers from the home he shares with Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen – “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”). Discovering a briefcase whilst clearing the basement, Parker contacts an old lab partner of his father’s, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), only to be bitten by a radioactive spider at the latter’s place of work (OsCorp, for anyone taking notes). Helping to complete the scientist’s long-gestating formulae, Parker inadvertently helps create The Lizard when Connors tests the results on himself in a bid to grow back his missing arm. Having fallen for Connors’ head intern, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), Peter becomes Spider-man and sets out to win the girl and save the day.

There is really no escaping the fact that Marc Webb’s reboot shouldn’t exist. Three movies in, with over $2.5 billion dollars to its name and innumerable stories left to tell, Sam Raimi’s original series could have been a box-office mainstay for many years to come. With only six years separating Spider-man 3 from Sony’s reboot – another origin story – it is inevitable that the new film repeats Raimi’s original to a considerable degree. While a number of the screenplay’s innovations succeed – the high school setting, mechanical web-shooters and new villain all working in its favour – you invariably still find yourself ticking the obvious boxes as you wait for Parker to finally don the suit and come mask-to-snout with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard – cringing as he once again exposes his true identity to anyone and everyone he encounters along the way. Such deja-vu certainly wasn’t helped by the footage-heavy promotional campaign determined to show us the film prior to release.

It’s not just Raimi’s original that Webb has to compete with. When Spider-man first débuted back in 2002, it was still a relative novelty to see superheroes realised on the big screen. Since then, the market has been saturated, subverted and deconstructed by characters of every shape and size. While Sony’s pursuit of grit and realism immediately put it up against Batman Begins (on this playing-field, at least, it wins), the high school setting and screwball elements smack far less flatteringly of Matthew Vaughn’s incomparable Kick-Ass. In the last seven months alone we’ve seen telekinetic teens, a fiery vengeance demon from Hell and a team-up of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes; Spider-man – with his sticky limbs and ropey webbing – is at risk of being left behind.

If the story seems stale, however, the characters have never felt more alive. Replacing the perpetually damp Tobey Maguire and whiny Kirsten Dunst, Webb has found a more convincing Peter Parker and a more likeable love interest in leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Garfield is a revelation, the Los Angeles native acclimatising instantly to the New York accent and bringing a real wit and physicality to the costumed form of Spider-man. Stone, meanwhile, brings a real sweetness and charm to the role of Gwen Stacy, their natural chemistry elevating the quieter moments between characters and bringing real stakes to the scenes between action set-pieces. If Rhys Ifans is the weak link as the resident mad scientist, it is only through the rest of the cast’s intoxicating charm and the fact that his own particular archetype has been done irreversibly to death (he argues with himself just as Norman Osborn did ten years before).

Similarly impressive are the film’s mind-blowing effects – perhaps surprising, considering the character’s comparatively unremarkable powers. While it took Raimi three movies to finally introduce Spidey’s impact-webbing, Webb pushes his protagonist’s abilities to the limit, each new encounter with The Lizard showcasing a whole new array of moves and skills so that the action remains fresh and exciting. Webb seems to have a better grasp of what has made Spider-man such an attractive and enduring character, the 3D proving the perfect platform to fully demonstrate the perks of being a crime-fighting freak. As Parker escapes to the skyline, away from his myriad concerns and conflicts, you really get a sense of who he his and exactly why he continues to wear the suit. CGI has finally reached the stage where it can do web-slinging justice, re-writing all memory of Mary-Jane Watson clinging to what was obviously a mannequin in a suit.

The Amazing Spider-man is by no means perfect (what is it about the character that inspires such nauseating acts of patriotism?), with Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves’ script biting off far more than it can realistically chew and spending an unnecessary amount of time setting up future instalments, but it is undeniably entertaining nevertheless. Webb’s reboot is really the best that it could ever have been, improving on many of the original trilogy’s biggest flaws and introducing a Peter Parker that finally fits the iconic costume. Raimi’s sequel was even better than his original – with this cast there’s every chance that Webb’s could be better still.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

8 Responses to The Amazing Spider-man (2012)

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