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The Average Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider Man (DVD)
Member Name: Dentolux
The Amazing Spider Man (DVD)
Advantages: Better effects than the older films, Stone does a good job playing the love interest.
Disadvantages: The Lizard wasn't as cool as in the comics, a tad long (gets dull towards the end.)
One of the reasons that reboots irk me is because, more often than not, they end up retelling the character's origin. I'm already acquainted with the Spider-man mythos so can't we just skip all that and adapt a more interesting tale from the Marvel library instead? No such luck. A good chunk of the Amazing Spider-man deals with how Spidey got into the crime fighting game. Evidently the studio has no faith that movie goers, interested in the film, might already know how geeky Peter Parker got superpowers from a spider bite. At least they try to come at the story from a different angle focusing how Peter, who is in the care of his aunt and uncle, deals with being abandoned by his parents at a young age.
Andrew Garfield is the new Peter Parker/Spider-man and although his performance wasn't bad it wasn't significantly better than Tobey Maguire's take on the character. Many reviewers retroactively criticise Maguire's work in the Rami trilogy, but I think he pulled off the "nerd with a heart of gold" part better than Garfield. This version of Parker comes across as more angsty, although that may due to his hairdo which resembles Edward from Twilight. In costume Garfield handles the Spider-man quips better than his predecessor, but the witty banter Spider-man is known for doesn't get dished out as often as you would think. The only examples I can recall were a hilarious bit where he confronts a knife wielding thug (which you may have seen in the trailers) and an exchange between him and the movie's main villain which to be honest was rather corny. Overall Garfield was okay although I got peeved at him constantly removing his mask in mid-combat to grace the audience with his dashing good looks.
Peter's love interest in the movie is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) instead of Mary Jane. This decision may have been taken to differentiate the movie from the Rami films or because Marvel is trying to pretend that the MJ relationship never happened after erasing their marriage via a deal with the devil (I wish I was making that up.) Emma Stone has more chemistry with Garfield than Kirsten Dunst had with Tobey Maguire, although I think the love story in the Rami films developed more naturally due to better writing. In this movie Peter has just one date with Gwen (a disastrous dinner with the family) before becoming smitten to the point of being comfortable enough to reveal his secret identity to her. Either way I cannot fault Stone's acting and I am pleased to report that Gwen's role in the story was more than just a tacked on romance for the girlies to swoon over.
Denis Leary plays Gwen's father who happens to be a captain in the local police force. He seems to have taken the mantle of Jonah Jameson who chastises Spider-man for being a dangerous vigilante. From what I remember in the comics the character was more supportive of the hero and even asked Peter to take care of his daughter. In this movie, although he eventually changes his opinion on the loveable web head, he never seems to approve of the Parker/Stacy relationship and flat out tells Peter to keep his distance from her. The Captain Stacy from the comic book pages was more fleshed out and likeable, in my opinion, which is a shame. Had the onscreen version of the character been more relatable certain story elements would have had more impact in my eyes.
My biggest disappointment with the film would have to be the antagonist of the piece - Curt Connors, a former acquaintance of Peter's dad. In the comics Connors (aka the Lizard) is presented as a tragic villain you can sympathise with. He's a research scientist who wants to use reptilian DNA to restore his lost arm. Desperate to overcome his disability, with his wife and son used as the source of his motivation, he prematurely experiments on himself transforming into a monster. The movie version, smothered by the lengthy Spider-man origin, lacks the touching back story which hurts the character. What we get instead is a scientist who gets sacked and in a moment of desperation injects himself with an untested formula. The end result is his transformation into the manic Lizard who wants to turn the populace into cold blooded scaly humanoids because it's the sort of thing bad guys do.
The visual effects didn't help endear me to the character either. The CGI version of the Lizard doesn't have a snout which makes him look very un-lizard like. If I had to describe the design of the character I would say that it looks like the enemies from the Super Mario movie mixed with a generic monster you would see battling the hulk. In most scenes he doesn't even sport his trademark lab coat, instead preferring to engage in diabolic deeds in the buff. The action scenes between Spider-man and the Lizard weren't as amazing as the title would suggest either. Yes the special effects aren't as dated as what we got in the Rami movies, but seeing Spidey swing across the city isn't that impressive now that we have seen better in other superhero films.
For the most part I have been a tad harsh when describing the movie because despite it's faults I found it to be entertaining. Had the villain been better I would have awarded the movie an extra star. Some choice editing would have also helped in regards to pacing too. It feels like ages before Peter dons the legendary costume and towards the end I did start to lose interest as the aftermath to the story dragged the running time to the two hour mark. There's nothing wrong with the Amazing Spider-man, but I liked its predecessors better. It's a mid-tier superhero movie whilst the first two Spider-man movies rank amongst my favourite in the genre. Compared to the other films it has a darker tone which doesn't suit the character, but was probably incorporated to the story because the studio wants to capture what has worked so well for Batman. Don't get me wrong, it's a fine superhero film but it does feel like something that was churned out as Sony need to produce a new film every few years to retain the Spider-man rights. I'm sure the Amazing Spider-man will do well in cinemas, in the short term, but in a season including the Avengers and Dark Knight Rises I doubt it will be memorable enough to be remembered a few months down the road.
Summary: Decent superhero movie, but it feels like they rebooted the series too early.