There has been a lot of controversy over The Amazing Spider-Man since it was announced a few years ago. Coming so soon after Sam Raimi’s incredibly successful trilogy it seemed strange to reboot a series so soon.
However, the casting of Andrew Garfield in the lead role, Emma Stone as romantic interest Gwen Stacey, and Mark Webb ((500) Days of Summer) as director all seemed like the best possible choices, and I for one was on board.
The Amazing Spider-Man sees the series go back to when Peter Parker was in high school. We open with him living with both his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field); and without any spider bite to superpower him up.
The main arc of the film sees Peter try to come to term with his new powers, while trying to impress Gwen. However, he’s got the problem of an evil oversized Lizard (Rhys Ifans) wreaking havoc across New York City.
There’s a lot to like in this new version of the film. Garfield and Stone as the two leads are perfectly cast, and their time onscreen is the highlight of the film. Webb’s ear for dialogue and experience of a romantic comedy pays dividends in creating a really engaging relationship.
What does not work is everything which is already familiar from Raimi’s films. The first act of the film sees Parker having to come to terms with his superpowers (again) before having to come to terms with a tragedy he could have prevented (again) then take down a scientist turned super villain (again).
There’s been a lot of reboots of superhero films over the last decade: Superman; Batman; X-Men; and The Hulk. Like Spiderman all have seen a recasting of the main roles and do not require any knowledge of any previous films in the franchise. However, none of them have seen as many similarities to their previous incarnations as The Amazing Spider-Man.
It beggars belief that anyone with any creative sensibility thought it was a good idea. As decisions in scripts goes, it’s one of the worst I can think of. Especially as I really did want to like the film, and had already fallen in love with the new actors playing their roles.
Instead of rehashing Parker’s origin story, they could easily have got Parker to sum up how he got his powers and why he fights villains in some sort of opening montage or voiceover… or something far more creative than that, like explaining it through the narrative. Ten years ago really is not that long, especially with the number of times the original Spiderman has been shown on TV since.
The rest of the film is actually very well constructed and played out. The film hits all the right notes, and each character’s ‘voice’ and motivation is clear and well thought through. As such in a world where Raimi’s Spiderman doesn’t exist it stands alone as a very good film. However, the inclusion of such similar scenes and plot beats in this reboot prevents it from standing as far apart as it needed to to fully justify its own existence.