It's been a little over a decade since Spiderman first swung into our cinemas while slinging box office records around the place in the process. Three movies and a musical later, we're now left with a reboot of the franchise and hopefully a chance to right some of the mistakes that were made last time. This is the Gizmodo Australia meta-review of The Amazing Spiderman!
Heed this, all who enter. Thar be spoilers yonder. Scroll with caution.
In this iteration of Spiderman, we start with a young Peter Parker playing hide and seek with his parents. When his father discovers that there's been a break-in that may have compromised his research, he packs up young Peter and leaves him to stay with Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). Pater Parker then (Andrew Garfield) grows up into the genius high-schooler we all know and love.
Cut to high-school, and Parker is beat-up regularly by high-school bully, Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) and idolises Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who for some reason is dressed like a sex object with killer boots, great coats and thigh-high socks for most of this movie.
Parker finds some of his dad's old work stuff including a weird looking formula in his uncle's basement. He ventures to Oscorp to find the one-armed scientist Dr Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans), an old research partner of his dad's.
Parker gets bitten by a genetically enhanced spider during his time at Oscorp and morphs into a teenager with superhuman abilities.
Parker reveals himself to Connors as the son of his old friend Richard Parker and they work together to finish his old research on growing back limbs which is meant to be for the company's ailing CEO and founder, Norman Osborne.
While all this is going on, Peter experiments with his powers and builds his own web shooters in a montage, and as a result, he begins to neglect his other responsibilities. This all comes to a head when Uncle Ben is shouting at him in the living room because he forgot to pick up Aunt May from work. Peter storms out and Ben goes looking for him, before the two converge on a convenience store that has just been robbed. Peter does nothing as the criminal escapes, even though he could have stopped him with his powers. The criminal trips over in front of Uncle Ben and his gun falls out in the process. Ben tries to wrestle the gun away from the criminal before our favourite father-figure is accidentally shot dead.
Peter is all broken up about it and goes on a hunt through the city for his uncle's killer, practising his super powers as he goes. Gwen pulls him out of his emo state by beginning a relationship with him.
Peter Parker comes out to Gwen Stacy as Spiderman which puts her in a tough spot considering that her father is the chief of Police, Captain Stacy (Denis Leary).
When Oscorp wants to use the serum he's been developing in premature human trials, Connors tests it on himself and thanks to the lizard DNA in the serum, he turns himself into The Lizard and after an attack on a bridge (thwarted by Spiderman of course) Connors moves to the sewers to hatch a plan to turn all of New York into lizards, as you do.
The Lizard eventually goes to the top of Oscorp to disperse his serum and we're treated to a final battle between the Lizard and Spiderman. Captain Stacy is killed by the Lizard in the battle and after the threat is neutralised and the Lizard is turned back into regular Curtis Connors, Captain Stacy makes Spiderman, who he now knows to be Parker, swear to stay away from Gwen.
The film ends with Gwen smiling in class as Parker whispers to her that the promises he can't keep are always the best ones.
Credits begin to roll, but not before we're treated to a mid-credits scene setting up the next movie.
Personally, I thought this movie was great. Andrew Garfield manages to walk the line between the nerdy Peter Parker character and the quippy, smart-mouthed hero well. Emma Stone was a great Gwen Stacy and her chemistry with Garfield's Parker was very believable. Their relationship was great, despite Parker's weird head jerks whenever he talks to Gwen.
It's not a large cast to deal with here but the cast members that stand out include Martin Sheen for his amazing portrayal of Uncle Ben. We don't get him saying the well-trodden "with great power, comes great responsibility" line, but we do get a rephrasing that almost sounds like it's straight out of the US Constitution. I suppose that's what eight years as President Bartlett does to you.
There are a lot of subtle nods to Sam Raimi's Spiderman movies throughout The Amazing Spider-Man, but it certainly tries to be its own movie as much as possible. Certainly if we lived in a parallel universe where Raimi's films didn't exist, this would be one of the better superhero movies out there, hands down.
The action in this movie was also fantastic. Raimi's movies always seemed to come at the action with a straight camera angle, but The Amazing Spider-Man, we're treated to a rotating camera that isn't locked off, and thanks to the dynamic movements it makes, we're puts right into the suit with Spiderman and it really hypes up a fight scene.
The pacing of the storytelling is a little slow in parts and by the end of the film, you're really feeling the two-hour plus runtime if you're easily bored by talking in your action movies.
The tech we're shown in this movie is worth noting. Doors that respond to pattern unlock instead of keypads or swipe cards, a room that projects scientific holograms for rapid scientific testing, a push-button formula maker and of course, the fantastic web-slingers.
But if there's one piece of advice I can give in this review, it's this: don't go and see this in 3D. For a film that's shot in 3D, it's really flat a lot of the time. I found myself taking off my 3D glasses in the cinema I was in to watch the talking scenes for example. There are about four or five moments where 3D is used really well, but those shots would be just as good if they were in stock-standard 2D, too.
Other than the lacklustre 3D and the pacing problems, The Amazing Spider-Man, I think, truly lives up to its name. It's a great action movie that everyone will get something out of. Even my mum liked it, which is saying something.
Here's what Nick thought:
I would go as far as to say it was better than any of the other Spiderman films. Unfortunately it follows such a close formula to the first film (because its an origin story), but I thought it was all-round a better Spiderman film (especially by comparison to Emo Spiderman 3: The Musical). 3.5/5, I would say.
Hazza agreed, adding that " it’s definitely better than Raimi’s first film and that turd of a third film."
Steve had high praise for the CGI but knows that this film is just a commercial exercise:
The CGI/stunts were blended much more seamlessly than the Raimi movies. When Tobey Maguire in costume swung away, it went straight to CGI Spider-Man and it was like night and day [but] it’s a shameless cash-grab by Columbia and Sony made only 5 years after Raimi’s movies, so they can retain the rights to the franchise instead of letting it go back to Marvel. Fox did the same thing after the X-Men trilogy ended eg. Wolverine and First Class, but both shockingly turned out okay…
Geoffrey says that if you've seen the trailers, you've seen the movie:
Its not all bad though… the scripting can be fantastically witty at times as you’ve probably seen in the trailers… but therein lies the other let down if you feel like you’ve already seen half the movie from the trailers … its because you have… even the after credits scene was in them. To make it worse there’s scenes in the trailer that didn’t even make it into the cinematic cut.
The artificial web slingers got Marcel offside:
Film was great but the whole electronic web slingers is such a stupid idea I was glad Sam Raimi got rid of it and sad to see it return. It is one thing to believe a kid gets bitten by a genetically messed up spider and yet another to think the kid who is in high school managed to create a web shooting device that defies all known laws of physics.
Everything else was pretty cool. I liked the characters and the acting, Emma Stone was good and Dennis Leary stole the show in some scenes. I just really always hate those bullshit web shooters… argh!
What did you think of The Amazing Spider-Man? Too long? Too short? Was it cast well? Did the re-treading of the Peter Parker origin story squash the eight-legged prequel that aired in theatres in 2002? Did Marvel dial down the suck by comparison to Spiderman 2 and Spiderman 3? Was the villain up to snuff? Was there a return of emo, dancing Spiderman (heaven forbid)?
Go get 'em, Tiger!
Image: Sony Pictures