Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andy Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan
Plot: Peter Parker (Garfield) investigates the disappearance of his parents, when he is bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes the Spectacular, the Amazing Spiderman.
I am going to start with a bold statement that I think will distance myself from a lot of my readers here: I didn’t love the Amazing Spiderman. In fact, I struggled to summon up much feeling at all for it.
The main reason for this is for the obvious reasons: we have heard this story before. And not only that, but we have heard it a lot better. The Amazing Spiderman retells the origin story of Peter Parker and how he became Spiderman. However, Marc Webb doesn’t even get around to telling us about J. Jonah Jameson, Harry Osborn or even leave the setting of high school, while Sam Raimi covered all of these points with relative ease. I wouldn’t usually complain about this, as it is perhaps a clever move for Webb to hold back on the future of Spiderman, keeping it in an early college day setting, keeping the story fresh. However, despite having less exposition to get through, Webb doesn’t quite capture the fun or scale of Raimi’s Spiderman. Also, while the addition of Parker’s parents hinted at a fresh new style for the story, in reality, it barely crops up, being dropped as soon as the Lizard finally shows up. Other storylines that are dropped include Oscorp and the car thief. Webb’s direction seems unsure of itself and for that reason, we are unable to relax into the Amazing Spiderman, whereas Raimi totally knew what he was doing with his material.
The Lizard is also a pretty pathetic villain. He is directed poorly and is totally unlike the true Lizard from the comics. The Lizard should have been akin to the Hulk, a scientist who means well, unable to stop himself from turning into a vile monster that rampages across Manhattan. However, Webb tries to make the Lizard more generic evil villain, giving him a ridiculous bad guy scheme. It would have been far better to have a secondary bad guy, pulling the strings, like the brilliantly sinister Irrfan Khan, who is another character developed well and then crudely dropped from the story. The origin story of the Lizard also feels a little old-fashioned with Dr. Connors transformation happening alongside Peter’s. Sure, Raimi did the same way back in 2000 with the original Spiderman, but that was one of the first superhero movies. We have come a long way since then and we expect a higher, standard of cinema. With the Dark Knight trilogy setting the bar, Marvel having years of story carefully planned and even the X-Men thinking larger and better, the Amazing Spiderman feels simple and rushed. It doesn’t help that the CGI used for the Lizard is bloody awful.
I also noticed that when Webb was stuck on what to do next, he seemed to turn to the older Spiderman trilogy for help. Take the heroic moment where Spidey is almost defeated, until the public of New York band together to help him. It should have been a euphoric, incredible moment, but Raimi had done it all before. And better, I might add. As Spiderman used the path created for him by the New Yorkers, I felt as if I should feel my heart lifting, but I struggled to summon any emotion for the scene. Of course, according to the fans, Webb understands the comics more, because Peter Parker makes his own web shooters this time around. It is actually amusing that some people genuinely think the addition of this miniscule detail saves the movie in any way.
What does save the movie is Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone! In a movie that frankly fails at everything vaguely superhero, it succeeds tremendously when it comes to the love story, between the two leads. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are so natural together that you are totally engrossed whenever they are alone on screen together. Andrew Garfield is definitely a better Peter Parker than Macguire, feeling more natural and a more comfortable fit for the character. He gets the humour too and I laughed a lot, when we saw him playing games on his iPhone while on a stakeout. Emma Stone starts the movie a little shaky. As she first appeared, I thought that Gwen Stacy felt like someone really wanted to get Emma Stone into a superhero movie. However, as the movie gets to its feet, Emma really makes the role her own. She has the humour, the charm and makes the perfect love interest. She steals the best laugh in the whole movie, when hiding Peter in her room from her father. The two of them actually make me confident that the Amazing Spiderman 2 is worth a watch, restoring faith in the franchise.
Final Verdict: The Spiderman is a tricky character to get right on film and honestly, it takes a better director than Marc Webb to manage that. The action is lacklustre, but the two leads save the day.