- Last Updated on 22 July 2012
- Hits: 246
As many of you might know, the new movie is a (hasty) reboot of the series which previously featured Sam Raimi in the director’s chair, Tobey Maguire as your friendly neighborhood Spiderman, Kirsten Dunst as primary love interest, Mary-Jane, and an assortment of villains, most notably the superb Alfred Molina as the good Dr Octavius/Dr Octopus. Sadly the nature of the new movie requires this little bit of catch up in order to review, you’ll see why in a bit.
Now as for this story, Andrew Garfield plays…hmm how to put this diplomatically…slightly darker and grittier Peter Parker who through the insertion of extra back-story, now suffers from a tragic past as a result of his parents being mysteriously killed in a plane crash. Anyway Spidey gets powers, except for the web shooters which he has to design, and Uncle Ben gets shot (again).
At the same time, a somewhat convoluted though related plot thread leads to the creation of the movie’s primary antagonist, Dr Curt Connors AKA The Lizard (Rhys Ifans).
In terms of action, The Amazing Spider Man holds up pretty well, especially when compared with the now slightly awkward action scenes from the first movie.
There are a few stand-out moments in terms of action, mostly thanks to the clever choreography of the scenes which feature Spidey quite correctly running lively circles around his opponents.
Sadly for Garfield, no one likes a try-hard and where he and the directors were clearly trying for nuanced expression, I felt that the poor guy was suffering from uncontrollable nervous ticks. Garfield certainly looks the part, and with proper direction and a halfway decent script, he might have easily out done Macguire’s Peter Parker but sadly that wasn’t to be.
While he does have a few funny lines and the guy clearly has some dramatic chops, the complete lack of cohesion in the movie reduces his attempt at a sincere performance to something that borders on parody at times, particularly at the completely expected death of Captain Stacy.
That brings us neatly to Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone. Not much to say about her, aside from how gorgeous, cool, charming and extremely likeable she is. Her character itself serves as more of a replacement to MJ, and that works just fine. Apart from her smirking at the thought of disregarding her father’s death wish, she’s a pretty straight forward character. Mary Jane fell in love with Spiderman and Gwen Stacy falls for Peter Parker, not exactly a feminist role model but there’s really nothing negative to say about her that matters.
The one-armed Dr Connors is another study in missed opportunity. It is established after a bit of pointless back and forth, that Connors knew Richard Parker, Peter’s father, back in the day. The worked on shady research which eventually leads to both Peter’s and Connor’s transformations into their respective alter egos. With all of that established there was a great opportunity to present a sympathetic villain, like what was done with the previous three movies, and perfected in Spider-Man 2. Instead the Lizard turns into a mindless monster bent on destruction and then later on and very randomly, the Lizard-ification of an entire city.
So basically you have a villain who starts off with good intentions (Spider-Man 2) who also happens to be a scientist and mentor figure to Peter (Spider-Man 2), who due to the imperfections in his own creation goes crazy (Spider-Man 2) and eventually is stopped by Peter at severe risk to his own life (Spider-Man 2) when the villain’s creation puts the whole city at risk (Spider-Man 2). Peter is then saved by said villain in a final act of redemption (Spider-Man 2). There is even one scene when the American flag in the background followed up by construction workers attempting to help Spidey defeat The Lizard in an extremely transparent attempt to recreate the train scene...in Spider-Man 2.
Marc Webb, who directs this flick, is a new-comer to the superhero genre, and I really think that he has the skills to really do something special down the line but that will require creative control which I’m almost certain that Webb had none of. He is a definitely one to watch out for as a director, if judged on his own ability which was far better reflected in 500 Days of Summer.
Now I know a lot of you will like this movie or want to like this movie but in my mind, the stunning levels of incompetence featured in terms of plot, character development, and very questionable cinematography and soundtrack decisions (I wanted to walk out of the movie when they set the obligatory training montage to Coldplay’s Till Kingdom Come BECAUSE IT MAKES NO SENSE!) really reveal this movie for what I feared it would be from the beginning: a cynical and completely unnecessary reboot designed not by artists but executives aiming to serve no greater purpose that maintaining Sony’s right to continue to make movies out of the poor hapless wall-crawler.
If I have my legal understanding of the situation down properly then the reason behind this movie was largely based on the fact that the Sony’s right to make movies out of the Spider-man character would have reverted back to Marvel if they failed to make a movie using the intellectual property. Indeed, the fact that Spidey didn’t make it into the Avengers could well be because of Sony clinging onto the property.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as with Fox Studios and X-Men First Class, which was a great movie made on a comparatively shoestring budget with more or less the same intention of holding on to the IP.
What that movie got right though was exactly what this one got wrong; and this in light of the X-Men franchise having to recover from the horrid, worthless, unstructured, pathetically-made X-Men 3. What they did with X-Men here was to NOT go for dark and gritty and instead embrace a totally different aesthetic which was what made the whole movie come together.
Sure it’s entertaining and I’m sure many of you going through the whole angsty teenage phase will “find lots to relate to” but the sad truth is no-one is going to remember this movie until they churn out a sequel, most likely with the Green Goblin, or Electro, but darker…and grittier.
Listen up world! Christopher Nolan + dark and gritty reboot = The only time that it will ever work.