The reboot of the Spider-Man franchise was not an unexpected one, Spider-Man is and most likely will remain one of the great American superheroes, not so much because of his powers but because of his humanity – a symbol of the everyman’s struggle with balance and responsibility. But is Spidey’s latest film worthy of the title “Amazing”?
On the subject of reboots and remakes, it’s impossible to avoid the inevitable comparison with the original film adaptation. From the outset, the proposed tag line of “The untold story” is something of a fallacy, the angle as it seems was to introduce the story element of Peter Parker’s parents, who have always remained mysterious in both film and comics alike. While Marc Webb does shed some light on this story arc, it never goes into any real depth, only using the subject in a minimal form, leaving the untold story, as just that, untold. The rest of the film follows the basic superhero model and draws heavily from the original Spider-Man film, and new characters aside, TASM’s story is more of a rehash.
It’s not just the retold story but the entire mentallity of the film – I just never connected emotionally with any of the characters. With their pretentious moral ambivalence, Peter, Gwen and the entire cast just aren’t likable and all their actions seemed entirely inconsequential. In fact that’s the whole feeling that surrounded the film – a lack of connection, the aim was to present the story of spider-man in a more believable context but I just didn’t buy any of it.
The original Spider-Man film may have been campy in some respects, but TASM has no character because it refuses to acknowledge its outlandish premise. I can only imagine that Marc Webb set out to make a Spider-Man film that was completely different and wouldn’t live in the shadow of the original, the end result is a concoction that exists somewhere between Batman Begins and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man of which it does neither very well, lacking the moral conviction of Batman and the heroics of Spider-Man.
However, in a world with such a drastic tonal shift, Garfield does a pretty decent job of conveying both the characters of Parker and Spider-Man – his interpretation takes a solemn approach to the character while still remaining playful (however this seems forced in a peculiar way). The performance is good but I still never found his role particularly convincing within the tone of the film. The same could be said for the rest of cast, the performances are very grounded in reality but I was never given any evidence that they were believable or emotionally compelling.
In the end what really hurts The Amazing Spider-Man the most is its uninspired score. In an attempt to completely remove Peter Parker and his alter ego from the superhero world, they’ve taken away one of the hero’s most effective emotional weapons: the theme. When watching any superhero film, whether it carries the grim demeanour of The Dark Knight or the heavy metal chops of Iron Man, it is expected that a mutant freak would possess a piece of music that transforms them into a hero…and Spidey just never seemed very heroic – I didn’t cheer for him, I didn’t boo The Lizard, I didn’t feel heartache when the Peter Parker or Spider-Man were at the end of their web. There was no mood, and without mood one cannot be emotionally convinced of anything on screen.
For those who like their superhero flicks served with a side order of camp, The Amazing Spider-Man will not hit the spot in the traditional sense – it takes the “realistic” approach to comic adaptations so don’t expect any bright colours or light comedy. Also of concern is the running time, at two and a quarter hours, this film is far too long for what it should be with retreaded sequences that just serve to prolong the experience.
Of course no review would be complete without covering the 3D effects. Should you watch it in 3D? It isn’t the most visually exciting experience but they play a lot with extreme depth which oddly enough did not induce migraines. Inevitably the effect does fade and what wowed in the trailer doesn’t quite do the same in the full length feature. This one could go either way – if you enjoy 3D, give it a watch but there isn’t a convincing argument for those sitting on the fence.
The Bottom Line
The Amazing Spider-Man is very different from 2001 origin but to go so far as to say the story is untold? Well the only story that was told was the one we’ve seen endlessly from hollywood’s superhero movie machine – oddly enough, the untold elements that do unfold aren’t particularly interesting. But as you can see below, I’ve given Spider-Man a relatively good score…well, despite it’s short comings the film is fun to watch and the action sequences, while nothing incredibly special, are entertaining, however they don’t quite capture the epic experience of the original trilogy. For the merit of seeing a different take on the web-slinger, it’s at least worth a watch on the big screen.