The Spider-Man franchise reboot, telling a different side to Spidey’s origins… Teenage social outcast Peter Parker develops his emerging superpowers while coping with college life – there’s school bully Eugene ‘Flash’ Thompson, and the lure of the lovely Gwen Stacy. Trying to unravel the mystery of his own past Peter’s destiny is formed bringing him face to face with super villain, the Lizard, a reptilian humanoid monster.
The Spiderman reboot has arrived, the previous franchise starring Tobey Macquarie with direction by Sam Raimi has been swept away story and all with a new director, new cast, and new beginning brought in for a new series of films.The announcement of a rebooted series occurred simultaneously with the announcement of the cancellation of Spiderman 4. Marc Webb has taken on the directing duties for the new film having previously delivered the well constructed ‘500 Days of Summer’ in 2009.
The story behind the new Spidey is credited to James Vanderbilt who has worked on films of varying quality including the 2007 David Fincher film ‘Zodiac’ as well as the more recent action release ‘The Losers’ and is working on the Robocop reboot. ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ is in an awkward position, with key elements of the origin story utilised in the previous franchise (which was not all that long ago), including elements borrowed from characters who are now appearing in the new film, there is a difficult balance between re-treading familiar territory that is central to the character’s origin, while bringing a new take on the series but keeping the heart of the source material intact.
‘The Amazing Spiderman’ manages this balancing act superbly, it revisits enough material from the previous series to portray the central elements that it wants to, and then focuses on introducing and developing its new characters and origin story for this series. With the rise of so many superhero films in recent years the concept of the origin film is one that has been done many times over. ‘Amazing Spiderman’ comes at an interesting time however when many of the current superhero franchises are into their second or third instalments so there has been a little breathing space (at least this season) for an origin story to be told.
There was a clear decision for a darker tone to be taken with the new Spidey film, this origin tale comes with some edginess to it, and is a story very much wrapped around a mystery for Peter Parker to explore, being his family background. The mystery element brings an interesting addition to the tale so that it isn’t simply a story of developing new powers while dealing with a new villain. This isn’t not to say those elements aren’t in this film but there is an underlying mystery/investigative element linking to what is no doubt a larger multiple film macro plot and this adds a sense of intrigue to the film.
With the first act being the most familiar component of the film, it does tend to dawdle somewhat getting perhaps a little too caught up in the teenage angst, though just when this side of the film threatens to overstay its welcome things move along to new material and this is where the film shines.
‘Amazing Spiderman’ has been shot nicely and brings some new tricks to the screen that work well. The first-person-shooter perspective isn’t over utilised but gives the audience the perfect amount of Spidey-cam action while swinging about the city. 3D films don’t tend to rate that highly on my priorities however ‘Amazing Spiderman’ makes good use of 3D tech. Without saturating the screen in 3D imagery Marc Webb has inserted a lot of 3D shots that blend in perfectly with the sequences on screen. The 3D is subtle when it needs to be, and eye poppingly awesome at just the right moments.
Blended in throughout the film are many special effects shots, and you can see this is where most of the approximately $200 million budget wound up. The film is a visual feast for audiences with what was arguably going to be the most difficult character of the film to do convincingly (the Lizard), coming off quite strongly. Visual effects are at their most compelling when supported by strong characters and a solid underlying story, and ‘Amazing Spiderman’ achieves this.
Andrew Garfield has delivered a strong performance in the role of Peter Parker, he nailed a blend of awkwardness, anger, slowly growing confidence and a general sarcastic cheekiness is on display here like never before. Emma Stone reciprocates well and the pair strike up a good chemistry on screen. Both Rhys Ifans and Dennis Leary were unexpected casting decisions but they both round out the cast nicely. Ifans is clearly having a good time in the role and without a huge amount of material to work with he portrays the conflicted Curt Connors convincingly.
‘The Amazing Spiderman’ will no doubt be faced with some criticism simply for being a reboot relatively quickly after the previous franchise was ended, and whether that decision was even necessary is another argument. However on its own merits ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ is recommended viewing for any superhero film fans, it’s filled with good performances, a visual effects extravaganza and most importantly strong story and characters.
I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars, ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ is in cinemas around Australia from Wednesday 4th July 2012.
For more discussion/thoughts on the idea of rebooting the Spiderman franchise see our previous posts here and let us know what you think.