If it needs to be explained who Spider-Man is then this film will read like a soft-science nightmare, in 3D. However, suspend your disbelief, for this is a comic book film, which we should all be used to by now. A superhero film generally features a search for identity, a romance doomed to repeated kidnappings, and a struggle to maintain (or come to terms with) familial issues usually arising from the aforementioned superheroism. However, one thing people want to know for sure is how this film compares to Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man.
The Amazing Spider-Man was directed by Marc Webb (get it?) the director behind 500 Days of Summer and more music videos than this review has space for. If there’s an auteur signature to this film it isn’t obvious and that works in its favour. Superhero stories should be accessible, as should the superhero, the role of Peter Parker being filled by Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) who is so gosh darn likeable he makes Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man look like a narcissistic continuity error. Filling in as the love interest this time is Gwen Stacy played by Emma Stone (Zombieland, The Help) who thankfully has been trusted with bringing in the comic relief. Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Kevin And Perry Go Large) is the brilliant Dr. Connors, who like Spider-Man must also learn that responsibility comes with all that great power laying around in laboratories. Ifans understands comic-book movie acting; just the right combination of subtlety and drama expected of an antagonist. As a scientist he wants to help people yet is forced to compromise how far he will go to achieve what, perhaps, technology is ready for, but he and mankind are not. That’s how character development is done. I’m looking at you, Green Goblin.
The fight scenes are very well choreographed, taking advantage of the various powers Peter acquires and using them for comedic as well as dramatic effect. The CGI is also excellent; however the spiders can be unsettling and nightmarishly creepy. The cinematography tends towards movement along the Z-Axis (forward and back), and swinging through New York in 3D looks great and is pretty badass. While The Amazing Spider-Man has its flaws it prefers to show not tell through its use of montage. The film has a running theme of technophilia so Peter’s programming tutorials blend with the aesthetic while informing the audience of just how the hell Spider-Man makes his web-shooters. Garfield’s Peter Parker is smart, second only to Gwen Stacy, so the plot is moved along by their curiosity and intellect.
Though a bit tame at times, The Amazing Spider-Man has put real effort into making an entertaining movie. So prepare for an insider nerd-on-nerd physics argument, the delightful as always Stan Lee cameo and, as per usual, don’t forget to watch through to the end of the credits. [Watch the trailer]