Archived: Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) - archived

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Many people said it was too soon after Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy to reboot the franchise, especially since Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 had started turning wheels. But here we are, five years later with a re-telling of Spider-Man’s origins. Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) takes place behind the camera for only his second major motion picture whilst Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield share the screen.

Whilst you may know the story of a kid getting bitten by a genetically modified spider, Webb’s origin story takes a few threads from the Ultimate Spider-Man universe. We meet Peter’s parents (albeit briefly) who were top researches at Oscorp. Peter’s father was working alongside Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) on cross-species gene splicing but had to flee with his wife and both were killed in a plane crash.

Whilst clearing out a leaked garage, Peter stumbles upon his fathers old briefcase and learns about Connors, a one-armed scientist, and decides to pay him a visit. Peter uses his science to adapt a formula Connors and his father were working on to regenerate missing limbs and Connors uses this on himself, but it goes wrong and turns him into the Lizard.

For reasons not really explained, Connors now wants all of New York to be the same as him so plans to unleash his toxin over the city, it is up to Spider-Man to save him.

Just like Peter Parker, this film has two sides. On the one hand it explores the characters and especially the relationship between Peter and Gwen Stacy, how Peter deals with having a love interest and the new responsibilities thrust upon him after his tussle with a spider. On the other, we have a troubled scientist with evil intentions and the conflict with Spider-Man.

Whilst the film succeeds in creating and developing the two main characters it fails in becoming a Spider-Man movie. The Lizard plot is ridiculous and feels like it was just added in when they forgot that they were actually trying to make a super-hero film. Despite having met Peter, Connors has no real conflict with him unless you count trying to get a photograph. Peter may have “created” the monster but why does the Lizard now want to make the population mutants? This isn’t X-Men.

It seems the villainy becomes subtext for the obligatory sequels, mentioning Norman Osbourne on several occasions and possibly setting him up in the post-credits sting. Anyone familiar with the Ultimate Universe knows that Peter’s father was also working at Oscorp with Eddie Brock’s father on the Venom suit and with the film focusing on the mysteries of Peter’s parentage, perhaps this will become a thread that gets pulled.

Whilst the film will obviously have its parallels to Raimi’s originals, it almost goes out of its way to try and be different. There is no J. Jonah Jameson and the Bugle becomes but a TV news station. “With great power comes great responsibility” is skated around and re-worded in a roundabout fashion. Whilst you can’t just repeat yourself when performing a reboot, these things just take away a little bit more from it being a super-hero film.

The heart of the film is the love-story between Gwen and Peter and that seems to take precedence over Spider-Man, this is not a super-hero action flick, it’s more of a romantic drama. Needless to say though, both Stone and Garfield are great in their leads, Garfield showing great emotion at the demise of Uncle Ben in particular. However, unlike Maguire, Garfield doesn’t appear to be the traditional, nerdy Peter Parker we expect. He has a cocky arrogance and likeable quality obviously seen by Stacy which makes it hard to believe he’d be the unpopular character he is expected to be.

Although certainly watchable, the film fails at too many points. The CGI of the Lizard makes him look nothing more than a glorified Koopa from Super Mario Brothers and the characters arc is relatively pointless, merely there to say “you know what, your father is a fellow we’ll discuss later”. When we first meet the Lizard he is chasing after Rajit Ratha (Irrfan Khan) on the bridge, then Spider-Man swings in and the Lizard is gone and Ratha is never seen again. What happened there? Did he capture him? Did he eat him?

The film suffers from not being a true super-hero film in my opinion, it becomes more “500 Days of Gwen” which is fine, but give us some action. Let us see the hero we have paid to see. Given the poor villain plot however, its unsurprising that we see more Amazing Peter Parker than we do Spider-Man.

Archived: Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) - archived
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