FILM REVIEW THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2012
It seems both brave and reckless to reboot a popular movie franchise like Spiderman so soon after the Sam Raimi trilogy starring the excellent Toby McGuire. Fans wanted a story taking up where the series left off, and not a reworking of Spiderman’s origin story.
Marc Webb directs a reboot of the origin and to be fair, he does it very well. Most of the success is down to the casting. Andrew Garfierld is a much moodier and shy Peter Parker before his radioactive spider bite. His relationship with his Aunt May (Sally field playing her more like Clark Kent’s mum than the usual Miss Marple figure) and Martin Sheen’s doomed Uncle Ben.
The film runs close to parody of the previous three films with homely speeches on responsibility and power. Where it differs is in making a mystery of why parker was dumped on his aunt and uncle by his vanished parents. The mystery is unsolved by the end of the movie but links to their research with a geneticist, Dr Curt Connors, (Rhys Ifans) destined to become the powerful gigantic Lizard. It is during attempts to bond with Connors that Parker gets bitten by a spider and develops its powers.
Much of the movie is then centred on the conflict between the two mutated men.
Parker’s love interest is Gwen Stacy, (Emma Stone), complicated by her father, a police chief, being convinced that Spiderman is a menacing vigilante. Dennis Leary is very good as the confused cop / father.
Two of the more familiar characters from the comics get no mention – Mary-Jane Watson and J-Jonah Jameson. Norman Osbourne is referenced but never seen.
The film cuts neatly to its main action sequences, avoiding long montage web-spinning sequences. What there is looks impressive and the Spiderman outfit is very well presented.
Some action sequences move too quickly to follow easily and people coated in webbing seem to get free of it easily seconds later.
The fight on a bridge over the Hudson is very odd. Spiderman saves various cars and their motorists from being thrown into the river by the rampaging Lizard by using his web to hold them dangling over the sides of the bridge. Though he saves one child from burning / drowning in a dangling car, he leaves the other vehicles and occupants to fend for themselves.
The obligatory Stan Lee cameo may be the daftest yet in any Marvel film. As hero and villain trash the school library in their fight, Lee, as the librarian, is too absorbed in music on his headphones to notice the chaos right behind him.
There are some good set pieces, notably Spiderman using his web as a series of motion detecting touch wires to tell where the Lizard is. The crane drivers setting their cranes in a line to give Spiderman easy access to the Lizard at OsCorp is touching.
My favourite moments involve the three-legged mice, named Fred and Wilma after the Flintstones. Connor sees them growing their lost legs as a cue to try to regenerate his own missing arm. Parker later notices Fred grown to twice the size of a mouse, eating Wilma. The Flintstones will never look the same again.
Intriguing and well handled. It will be interesting to see where the second movie takes all this.