The first thing that they got right this time around was the casting. Andrew Garfield is a lot better as a leaner, more charmingly awkward version of Peter Parker, and Emma Stone is so adorable as Gwen Stacy that she makes baby panda bears blush. The only way she could have been cuter was if there had been a scene where she walked over a rainbow holding hands with a kitten. Rhys Ifans is… interesting. Not great, just solid. You can see the pain in his eyes, and the conflict, even though it was poorly written. And put against the original trilogy’s Willem Defoe, Alfred Molina, Thomas Haden Church and Topher Grace – whom we really shouldn’t take about – he looks like the greatest thing to ever happen to cinema ever. Like, ever.
I should mention that the casting is good if we ignore the fact that Peter Parker is meant to be seventeen years old and Andrew Garfield looks like thirty.
The writing was.. solid. And by that, I mean that I guess everything made sense, and if things didn’t then they were in forgivable ways. Not like how in ‘Air Force One’ when the guys are infiltrating the building they wear black to go undetected… but use white parachutes. But other than that it’s all pretty bland. There are moments of humor, but they are generally of the physical variety. There are a couple of funny lines but you already saw them in the trailer. For a playful, sarcastic superhero like ‘Spider-Man’, there really ought to have been more. And Garfield delivers the ones he gets really well, so it’s a shame he wasn’t given more. Well, apart from the time he was required to taunt Ifans with “who’s been a naughty lizard?” That was particularly painful. But I don’t think Lawrence Oliver in his prime could have worked with writing that weak.
That said, as solid as the writing was, there were moments of unmistakeable mediocrity. For example, the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” arc of the story was undeniably and unequivocally handled far worse in ‘The Amazing Spide-Man’ than it was in Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’.
Director Marc Webb had his break with the unconventional romantic comedy ’500 Days of Summer’, and it shows here. There are some cutesy, awkward moments, where Parker and Gwen Stacy start to develop and show their feelings for one another. I can’t recall if the writing was any good here though, as I was too busy lying upside down in my seat drooling on myself over how sweet Emma Stone was.
The action in the movie is surprisingly good. Surprisingly only because Webb has little history in this medium and he handles it brilliantly. I imagine there is a lot of pressure filming stuff like this and that the intricacies required to execute perfectly are not lessons that you can learn when your filmography contains a Joseph Gordon Levitt comedy and a Jesse McCartney music video. The fight scenes in particular between ‘Spider-Man’ and the Lizard in the school are fantastic. Really exciting, as the Lizard is relentlessly and unmercifully ferocious and much of the time ‘Spidey’ is just trying to get away from him. There’s a genuine sense of danger for our hero even if we know deep down that nothing will ever really happen to him.
All in all I felt that ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ was a decent film. Not bad but not great. Somewhere in between ‘The Avengers’ (good) and ‘Prometheus’ (I hate you Ridley Scott). But once the dust has settled on the summer, I highly doubt it will be anywhere near the benchmark: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.
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