Since it finally came out on DVD, I decided I would actually give the new incarnation of the Spider-Man franchise a try. I’ve always liked the Lizard as a villain so at the very least I wouldn’t be completely disappointed, right? And after the utter disaster that was Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man had nowhere to go but up.
My first impression of the film was pretty positive. I liked the style of the camera work, the actors were pretty decent (especially Emma Stone, who played Gwen Stacy) and the overall story had a solid pacing. But as it became time for Peter Parker to turn into Spider-Man, the movie started to get erratic and fall apart.
First and foremost, Parker jumped into his new role as Spider-Man in a matter of minutes. There was a brief bit of confusion, but after that he was fine. I did like the evolutionary montage, where Spider-Man switches up his suits and tactics and learns how to use his newfound powers. It’s something you usually see done badly in super hero flicks, and this time around they managed to pull it off without seeming too cheesy. But there was little psychological transition, which was a shame.
The same thing occurred with the death of Peter’s Uncle Ben. It was quick and almost meaningless compared to the way it has been portrayed elsewhere. Not to mention a very poorly directed scene where people are standing around Ben when he gets shot and then magically disappear once he is dead, leaving no one to help Peter.
So, Ben is dead and the only thing the soon-to-be Spider-Man has to motivate him is revenge. I guess perhaps that Webb is looking to tell a different story of progression for Peter by using the next two films? He does have free-reign over the franchise right now, so he could have been planning to tell the story in the long-term. I certainly hope so, cause right now Peter is still very two-dimensional.
On the plus side, this movie had some of the best action scenes out of any super hero flick ever. They are frenetic and brutal and you really see the endurance and strength that both Spider-Man and the Lizard possess. There are a few “freerunning” scenes that almost made me throw up due to the way they were shot, but luckily there are only two and they are very brief. Those were perhaps the worst action I’ve ever seen. Let’s hope they don’t make a reappearance in the next Spider-Man flick.
As far as the acting went, Andrew Garfield was better than Toby Maguire ever was in the first three Spider-Man flicks, but by about half-way through the movie he does start to get a bit annoying. He comes across less like the shy Parker from the books and more like a sly manipulator. Some of this could be chalked up to the fact that he’s a bad-ass with his new powers, but Garfield doesn’t really pull it off. Hopefully he’ll be in top form next time around. The supporting cast was pretty damn good as well, and the guy who played Flash particularly stood out. Hoping to see him come back and develop the big jock.
All-in-all, a fun ride but not what it could have been. Straying from canon is acceptable to a point, but when you include a scene (like the death of Uncle Ben) but downplay the heck out of it, it just confuses viewers (or at least me). If you like Spider-Man, it’s a good run. If you’re a more general fan of super hero flicks, then take it or leave it.