The weekend before last, I went to see the latest, and possibly greatest, in the Spider-Man franchise. I wasn’t going to but the allure of somebody in the lead role that didn’t have the ability to irritate me with every twisted facial expression proved too tempting to ignore.
I’m glad that I decided to see it as it succeeded in making me see spidey in a positive light again after the sour taste left behind by the abominable Spider-Man 3. As such, I’ll share some thoughts about the film here but not as a review, more of a list of bullet points to simplify things. After all, who doesn’t like bullet points? I intended on sharing my thoughts about the film much earlier this this, specifically the beginning of last week, but I got caught up with other things. However, I’m not one to renege on a deal so here we are!
- The first thing that needs to be mentioned is obviously the casting of Andrew Garfield as the web-slinger. Quite simply, he channelled both sides of the Peter Parker/Spider-Man character remarkably well. He captured the confused and boyish nature of Peter and transferred those into his costumed counterpart. One of the issues I had with Tobey Maguire’s portrayal was that whilst I saw him relatively well as Spider-Man, I didn’t see him as Peter. As such, something always felt missing because whilst the movies may have been branded with the Spider-Man name, they were as much about Peter Parker as they were about the red and blue hero. Fortunately, Andrew Garfield was easy to believe in both of the identities and my enjoyment of his casting in the role was as high as it could have been as a result. I had high expectations from the moment it was announced that he would be the next incarnation of the web-slinger, and luckily he did not disappoint me on any of them.
- Every costumed superhero needs a girl to be enticed by and this iteration of Spider-Man had Gwen Stacy to fawn over, played wonderfully by Emma Stone. Unlike Kirsten Dunst’s infuriatingly petulant Mary-Jane Watson from the pre-reboot days, Stone had the added benefit of the brilliant chemistry between her and Andrew Garfield, which in turn made the developing relationship of their on-screen characters more enjoyable and believable to watch. It also helped that Gwen Stacy was infinitely easier to watch as opposed to MJ, who often gave me a burning desire to stand up and yell profusely at her moronic decisions.
- Taking the role of the villain this time around was Rhys Ifans, whose version of Dr. Curt Connors became the menacing Lizard after a genetic experiment gone awry. Honestly, whilst I can’t deny that Ifans put in a solid performance as both man and monster, The Lizard didn’t do much for me as the big bad to kick off the reboot. The character just isn’t as interesting as other, more well-established villains and often seemed like nothing more than a green beast who liked to smash things. It’s understandable that they might not have wanted to have the Green Goblin as the villain this time around as it may have been too similar to the first spidey film last decade (and keeping them as far away from each other is better in the long-run) but I’m not convinced that the Lizard was the best one to place their bets on.
- There have been many, many people expressing their dislike for a reboot so soon after the previous trilogy and whilst I can easily understand their frustrations, heck I even share some of them, it’s fortunate that this movie felt radically different to the first movie all those years ago. I don’t just mean in the terms of the cast but in the slightly darker atmosphere, increased quality of writing (for the most part) and the way in which the cast worked well together. Everything felt more coherent and consistent, especially when you compare it to 2007’s Spider-Man 3, which was merely a colour-by-the-numbers tale that was told in a dull and disastrous fashion.
- As I mentioned before, part of me doesn’t mind a reboot so soon after the previous trilogy and another part thinks it’s far too soon. I constantly found myself comparing the two and trying to figure out what would happen next. The Amazing Spider-Man was far too different to have made that possible but it still didn’t help. As far as this topic goes, I’m still very much on the the fence about it.
- Special mention has to go to Martin Sheen’s fantastic interpretation of Peter’s Uncle Ben. I obviously knew that the character’s shelf-life wasn’t going to last long but during his time on the screen, he exceeded any expectations I had of him. It just makes the fact that the character won’t return, at least not in a full capacity, even worse to handle.
- On a smaller note, it was good to see some added faithfulness to the comics by having spidey use technological web-slingers, rather than the organic versions of the previous trilogy. I’ve never read the comics but I’ve always been aware that spidey used custom-made shooters, which made the organic ones seem problematic last time around.
- Did anybody else find it utterly implausible for Gwen to oh so conveniently be Dr. Connors’ lab assistant, especially considering her supposed age? Granted, it was hardly a huge problem, merely more of a slight niggle, but it felt like they’d put her there merely to integrate her into the main story. I’m sure there would’ve been ways to put her in some form of mortal peril that didn’t involve a ridiculous story concept being fed to us.
- Moving back to the topic of the Lizard and whilst I took issue with his inclusion, his CGI was relatively well done I thought, particularly around the facial area. Not that I’ve ever seen a giant man/lizard hybrid standing in front of me before but I imagine that it would look a little like that.
- With the confirmation of two further sequels to this reboot, which is unsurprising given the box office success of it, it seems as though Garfield’s incarnation of Spider-Man has a lot of room left to manoeuvre. An underlying mystery surrounding Peter’s parents was unveiled, which will obviously be explored further in the trilogy, and of course there is still a catalog of villains out there for spidey to cross paths with, with some obviously more interesting than others. Clearly the Green Goblin, long considered Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis, obviously has to make an appearance at some point. The rest of the quota can be whatever it wants to be.
- The scene with Peter in the lab with all of the spiders falling around him completely made me squirm in my seat, which wasn’t a good thing considering I had popcorn sitting on my knee. I imagine that had I watched that in 3D, I would have left the auditorium breathing in and out of a brown paper bag. Yes, I don’t function well with creepy crawlies. Isn’t that obvious?
- Whilst The Amazing Spider-Man had its fair share of issues, I still found it to be at least on-par with Spider-Man 2, the pinnacle of the previous trilogy. Where this reboot shone the most was the impeccable casting in the two lead roles, as they light up the screen with their presence. The story may have been a little wonky in parts, the cast they secured made up for that. Andrew Garfield, as if I’ve not mentioned it already, was a brilliant choice for the main role. I never considered Tobey Maguire a bad spidey, just an incredibly irritating one. I didn’t have those problems this time around and I enjoyed the movie a lot more because of it.
So, now that you’ve heard my brief thoughts on the movie, what did you think? Too soon for a reboot? Andrew Garfield good in the role? Let it be known in the comment box. Also, continuing with the superhero theme this summer, I eagerly anticipate going to see The Dark Knight Rises next weekend – a film I’ve been drooling over for a very long time. I’ve avoided spoilers so far and that alone is a difficult task to have achieved. Needless to say, I’ll share my thoughts on the movie once I’ve seen it.