Verdict: 3 / 5
Spider-Man is one of the most beloved heroes ever. From all the way back in the 60s to modern times, his popularity has never truly ceased and with the recent release of a new film, the interest has been rekindled. But just how “amazing” is this film?
Reviewed by Lyle Arends
Being a reboot, comparisons to the past titles are unavoidable. But truthfully, there were never really any good Spider-Man live-action films and although there were attempts starting from the 70s, it was legendary horror director Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man that brought the web-slinger to the public eye the right way. The film was highly praised and, although there were some annoyances, it was generally one of the better superhero films created. It was followed and surpassed by Spider-Man 2 in 2004 and Spider-Man fans were given a burning hope, believing that it couldn’t get any better… and ironically, it didn’t. When Spider-Man 3 came along in 2007, many fans rather chose to forget it (even to this day) and outright deny its existence like a father on an episode of Jerry Springer. Scrapping plans for a 4th installment, SONY rather opted out of another Raimi project and so The Amazing Spider-Man film was born.
The film’s plot revolves around Peter Parker and his journey to becoming Spider-Man once again. This time he is being forced to use his new-found abilities to battle the sinister Lizard, who plans on mutating the rest of the human race into mutant lizard creatures like him.
Initially, fans were promised a more mature narrative and a darker story, but as you can see from the above, the film has a cookie-cutter comic book plot. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the end, we get an entertaining package, but unfortunately one that’s severely lacking.
Starting off well, we get to know the main characters and slowly start to build a connection with them, but as soon as Peter gets his powers, things escalate a bit too quickly and that connection is lost… much like Dr. Connors’ arm. There was also the promise of an “untold” story which involved Peter’s parents. However, his parents are only seen once. And although Peter’s father’s research plays a major part in the film, the untold story remains untold.
Another issue is that the motivation that drives Peter to use his abilities is forgotten halfway through the film. There is no real closure and this attributes to just another gaping plothole. This, of course, isn’t the only thing which is forgotten. Dr. Rajit Ratha, a big part of the story is also left out of most of the plot. There is confirmation that the film was heavily edited and a pivotal scene cut out, but there was absolutely no closure in the final cut. Most audiences probably won’t notice it, but the film raises a few unanswered questions.
Something else that bugged me is that Spider-Man is a masked vigilante, yet we see him without a mask in most of the scenes where he is in costume. This is quite ironic seeing as Peter points out the irony of asking a masked person who they are early in the film.
If there is one thing which really damages the film it’s the poor score. The music isn’t amongst the worse you’ll hear, but it’s completely unfitting of the film and as it drags on, it becomes a major annoyance. Every superhero film has a certain tone and a recognizable theme that suits the hero, but this isn’t the case here. There score does nothing to fit the mood of the scenes and it doesn’t add anything to them at all. It doesn’t seem that there was too much effort put into this area and that’s just sad.
The biggest fault (other than the musical score) is that Spider-Man isn’t really doing Spider-Man things. Although he fights some petty crimes in the start, it is because of his own motifs and not out of a sense of justice. Unlike the 2002 version, Spider-Man goes from beating (not even fighting) some random criminals to fighting the Lizard. There are very few heroic acts and this really takes from the film.
On a more positive note, the film at least looks good. The 3D isn’t special and adds nothing to the experience, but the more gritty visual style is welcomed. The CGI is very well done and while The Lizard’s design might not be the most impressive thing you’ll see, he looks good and the rest of the CGI scenes deliver a solid punch. The mechanical web-shooters are also a nice addition.
Putting Peter back in a high school setting and the use of younger actors also gains some favour because it rings true to the original Stan Lee character. Although Tobey McGuire brought a goofy likeable portrayal, Andrew Garfield is a more sombre and believable Spidey. In fact, most of the cast give a pretty solid performance (Martin Sheen being the show stealer).
The best parts of the film are the fight scenes. They aren’t anything spectacular, but Spider-Man fights like he would in the comics using his webs and wall-crawling abilities properly and again, nothing special, but different. He doesn’t make much use of his spider-sense though, but still manages to pull off a showing.
Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t quite as amazing as it claims. I can respect what Marc Webb was going for and what he gave us in the end, but he over-looked some key elements that would have made this a truly great film. Like Sam Raimi’s efforts before, hopefully the sequel will be exceptional. But for now, you should at least support your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man and give the film a watch on the big screen.