The Amazing Spider-Man: Okay, so when it came to this film, I was not expecting anything ground-breaking.
In fact, had it not been showing on an IMAX screen, and having been so impressed with Prometheus in that format a few weeks earlier, I wouldn’t have gone to see this one at the cinema, anyway. It’s the kind of thing I would’ve, instead, stuck on my Blu-ray ‘to do’ list, much like the second and third films featuring Tobey Maguire, which I’ve still yet to watch.
You know the basics. After something unexplained happens at the start, as a young boy, the eventual teenager, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), is sent, by his parents, to live with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), who doesn’t seem at all interested in cooking, despite what his name might suggest. From there, he attracts the attention of fellow student and science-babe Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who just happens to be a protégé of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who, for one reason or another, has lost his right arm. He’s piloting the technical doohickey behind cross-species genetics, which he thinks will solve problems like his lack of limb, and will help him create a “World without weakness”. Because he’s the sinister-looking type, he seems to know more than he’s letting on about the mysterious death of Peter’s parents, Richard (Campbell Scott) and Mary (Embeth Davidtz), the former of whom he used to work with.
Fans of the comics will already know that Dr. Connors is also known as The Lizard, which gives you an idea of what’s going to happen later on in terms of who will provide Garfield’s first foe. And to bring things full-circle, Denis Leary plays Gwen’s father, the police captain who is upset about the fact there’s a bloke dressed up in a spider costume, running round the city and assaulting citizens, most of whom are suspects in various robberies. Oh, well, to complete the main cast, there’s Chris Zylka as Flash Thompson, Gwen’s other half, although as her feelings increase for Peter, he doesn’t exactly put up a fight for her.
Now, I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man without having any kind of a passion for superhero films, and only a passion for seeing something kick-ass on a big IMAX screen, following a viewing of the aforementioned Prometheus, and I next plan to see The Dark Knight Rises, even though I’ve thought all the Batman films over the past 25 years have been hit and miss and never excellent. For the most recent crop, I thought Batman Begins was okay, while The Dark Knight was very so-so, and while Heath Ledger was good, he was NOT Oscar-worthy, but then we all know he only got that on the unfortunate account of him being dead.
Anyway, back to the film I’m reviewing, and on that technical note, it was only towards the end that I realised much or all of the last 30 minutes, where there’s the bulk of the action, the IMAX screen opened up to around 16:9, with everything else in 2.35:1. It also went back to 2.35:1 for the last scene and then opened up again for a final moment.
There was also a wonderful cameo from someone I won’t reveal, but you’ll know who I’m referring to when you see it. And I’m not talking about C. Thomas Howell, whose brief presence was welcome, but while in years gone by I would immediately have thought of him as “the guy from The Hitcher”, my first thought today was, “It’s Dewey from Southland!”, one of my all-time favourite U.S. imports, alongside Dexter and 24.
Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man is not bad, but not brilliant, and there’s nothing in it that’ll throw in any surprises. It’s played for a few laughs, although not nearly as many as it could do, and, in fact, I found myself filling in potential lines in my head when they should really have been said onscreen. Score-wise, I’d give it 6/10 for the film, and 7 for the IMAX experience. It wasn’t used a lot, but when it was, it was great and it opened up to 1:44:1. However, as everything rushes by so fast, you can’t really appreciate it all.
It’s also overlong. It runs for 136 minutes and could easily be tightened up by chopping out 30 minutes, part of which could be saved by speeding up how long it takes to get through the preliminaries and up to the point where Peter is bitten by a spider.
Acting-wise, everyone plays their parts reasonably well, but it doesn’t feel like any of them are particularly pushing the boat out. Garfield looks decidedly older than 17, while Emma Stone can just about get away with it, as she’s just a handful of years older. Garfield puts in a capable performance as the hero, but it’s nothing that’s going to trouble the Oscar community, come next spring. As for the director, Marc Webb, his name didn’t ring any bells when I saw it in the credits, but a look on IMDB shows his other feature film directorship was the wonderfully clever 500 Days of Summer.
Oh, and for those who up and leave as soon as the credits begin, STAY SEATED! For a couple of mins at least, as there’s an extra scene. Once that’s done, there’s tons of credits and nothing after.
Running time: 136 minutes
Released: July 3rd 2012
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (3D, 2D) / 2.35:1, 1:44:1 (some scenes) (IMAX 3D)
Director: Marc Webb
Producers: Avi Arad, Matthew Tolmach and Laura Ziskin
Screenplay: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves, from a story by James Vanderbilt
Music: James Horner
Spider-Man/Peter Parker: Andrew Garfield
Gwen Stacy: Emma Stone
The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors: Rhys Ifans
Captain Stacy: Denis Leary
Uncle Ben: Martin Sheen
Aunt May: Sally Field
Rajit Ratha: Irrfan Khan
Richard Parker: Campbell Scott
Mary Parker: Embeth Davidtz
Flash Thompson: Chris Zylka
Peter Parker (Age 4): Max Charles
Jack’s Father: C. Thomas Howell
Jack: Jake Ryan Keiffer
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.