MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★
If the superhero movie genre didn’t already seem somewhat overstretched, why not “re-imagine” a series that feels like it only just ended. Of course, we’ve seen with Nolan’s Batman just how a tired series can be distinctively told with style and imagination so I was curious to see what director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) and actor Andrew Garfield could bring to his Peter Parker to make it worth the trouble. The answer is it’s not a straight remake, it does try to find its own feel, but it doesn’t go quite far enough.
With Andrew Garfield at the helm, at least someone is cast with some acting chops to give a rather mediocre script some charm and resonance. As anyone who’s seen any of his earlier work (Boy A, Never Let Me Go, The Social Network) will appreciate, he’s a really talented actor finally landing his first major role and although he’s the best thing in The Amazing Spiderman, I can’t help but fear he might become somewhat restricted by the perhaps inevitable franchise as he’ll be more limited in terms of other commitments. Garfield’s recently commented that this film marks him saying goodbye to exploring adolescence, although at 28 he has a remarkable resemblance for a high schooler. So often when older actors are cast as characters much younger than themselves it can be rather transparent, but not only can Garfield physically resemble high school age but in a lot of his work he has a terrific way of displaying all those awkward and slightly naive, shy mannerisms with so much charm and subtlety. Garfield’s supported by the always wonderful Martin Sheen who makes a perfect Uncle Ben and Emma Stone as Spidey’s love interest, Gwen Stacy who unsurprisingly has great chemistry with her real life boyfriend.
The film does really well at exploring the origins of Spiderman in some details but unfortunately falls into a bit of a formulaic rut once he dons the suit and the film’s villain is established despite some undeniably spectacular building-to-building swinging effects. The Lizard (Rhys Ifans) is a cartoonish and underdeveloped bad guy whose story feels like its been directly cut out of a comic and placed onscreen. It’s not a particularly compelling story nor does his antagonism do much to add to the development of the Spiderman character. The film also suffers from a clunky, overwrought soundtrack which seems to be played at inopportune moments and on more than one occasion I found it distracting and it had the affect of making potentially tense moments seem somewhat silly.
From an interesting opening hour brought an ultimately underwhelming final piece. By no means terrible, by no means a redundant addition to the Spiderman legacy but by no means is it anything remarkable. It passes the time just about fine. And just about fine, it is.
Review by David Rank