Now colour me sceptical, but I like numerous others was a bit taken aback at Sony announcing a “re-boot” of Spider-man. It has only been ten years since the first film came out and five years since Spider-man 3 hit the screens. For me, I suspect that there was some sort of clause in the agreement that Sony had with Marvel that after “X” number of years, the rights would revert back to them. And now with Disney buying Marvel, Sony didn’t want to lose the rights. Couple that with the successful reboot of the Batman franchise, Sony must have thought they were on to a winner. To that I say “HA!”
Yes, this film is going to make oodles of money at the box office, but if you have seen the Toby Maguire and Sam Raimi original films first, you may come out of the cinema like me, with the feeling that although it was a good film it brought nothing knew to the franchinse. In fact, for me it was missing that little bit of oomph that made me go “WOW! That was a fun movie!”. The Amazing Spider-Man has all the tried and tested bells and whistles, but it was missing that suckerpunch I felt when I saw Batman Begins, the reboot to the Batman franchise.
Now the plot seems to be going down the root of the original comics. Instead of having the iconic Mary-Jane Watson as the love interest in this movie, the writers have decided to go back to the early comics and have Gwen Stacy (Stone),as Peter Parkers (Garfield) first girlfriend. Knowing a bit about the origins of the Spider-man comics, I think I know what the knewly announced Trilogy arc is going to be, but I’m not going to spoil it for the non-comic reading fans. All I will say is that it has great potential for fantastic series, if carried out right.
So, let me get back to this film and what I thought of it.
The original plot has been covered before, how Peter was bitten by the spider that gave him his powers, the events leading up to Uncle Ben’s murder, and how Peter came up with his idea for his alter ego all are tweaked slightly in this film. The problem is you are limited on what you can do as these are all staple parts of the mythology of Spiderman.
Another issue is the roster of villains that Spiderman can go up against. Raimi had already used five of the biggies: Green Goblin, Doc Oc, Hob Goblin, Sandman and Venom, so the writers/directors decided to use one of villains only hinted at in the Raimi films, The Lizard/ Dr Curt Connors. Maybe they decided to take a leaf out of Christopher Nolan’s, the genious behind the reboot of the Batman films, book and have a less famous villain and keep the Green Goblin for the second film? I don’t know, but even this is a pretty weak plot. The motivation for Dr Connors is really woolly and I just couldn’t buy into it.
The pacing of the film as a whole is pretty much a stop-start affair. You can see the big set pieces, but there is filler inbetween it that just slows the pace down.
I saw the film in IMAX 3D, hoping to feel as though I was Spidey(or Spider-man to the non-comic book fans), swinging through New York, but even then it fell flat. Other films I have seen in 3D, IMAX and IMAX 3D managed to take advantage of the technology, but this just didn’t.
So I then turned to the characters in order to see if there was anything new to them. Now, remember the only characters that appear in both Raimi’s films and this one are Spidey, Aunt May, Uncle Ben and Dr Curt Conners. Since this is Spidey’s film, I’ll talk about Andrew Garfields portrayal.
Many people will argue with me, but for me Garfield lacked that certain something to make me root for him. He did give it his all when dealing with emotional parts, but I felt nothing. The pivotal part in the evolution of Spiderman came across like a teenager having a strop. This is the catalyst for what Peter/Spidey stands for. Give Garfield his due, he gave it his all, he just didn’t pack that punch.
What was frustrating was the fact that there were moments of pure genius hidden within the film. The part with the car jacker still made me laugh, with Spidey aprhending the car theif in the middle of his heist. It was a well set-up gag and at one point my mind was drawn to the lead in Kick-Ass. The only down side is that this scene has almost been shown in its entirety through trailers and TV spots.
Sally Field and Michael Sheen’s portrayal of Aunt May and Uncle Ben are ok. Again, there is only so much you can do with these characters. I did think that Sheens’ portrayal of Uncle Ben came across as a bit of an ass. The film makers tried to make him a bit more of the comedy relief, but it failed. While in Raimi’s film, Uncle Ben came across as the concerned elder, Sheen’s Uncle Ben was a bit hard on Peter.
After thinking it over, I think I know what this film really lacked and that was conflict and heart.
The linchpin of Raimi’s films was the relationship between Peter, Harry Osborn and Mary-Jane. Peter’s friendship with Harry caused a lot of conflict, both with the fact he is Norman Osborns’ son and the fact that both of them had feelings for Mary-Jane. It is this plotline that gives us something to invest in. With the new film, we don’t have that. Spidey’s relationship with Gwen Stacy just seems to be a stepping stone to the great love affair we all know is on the horizon.
It’s a shame because Emma Stone is an excellent actress. She would have been better playing Mary-Jane in a later film, than Gwen. Maybe the film makers have a greater storyline for her in the sequels. I hope so, because this was just disappointing.
For anyone who hasn’t seen Raimi’s original spin on this story, this will probably be a great film to go and see. No doubt they will love it. Even those who didn’t like Tobey Maguire or Kirsten Dunst will prefer this, as they haven’t been through this origin story before. I couldn’t help but compare Raimi’s film with this one. In the end, I found myself saying “Yeah, they have tried to give their own slant on the film, but it’s not enough to make me feel that it’s really any different.”
It seems that the film makers hoped to replicate Nolans reboot of Batman in this film, but it’s a very pale imitation. The reason being, Nolan managed to re-invent the Batman mythology, this is just going over the same old ground. It could be down to the limitations on how you can re-invent Spider-man as his origin story is so well known. With Batman, we all know that he saw his parents being murdered, but there is scope from this event to becoming the icnonic Batman that can be open to interpertation. With that, all I can say is “Roll on The Dark Knight Rises.”