Coming only five years after the release of Spider-Man 3 is a reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, moving focus away from the Sam Raimi trilogy and more toward the Ultimate Spider-Man comic book series. There has been a move closer toward the comic books with elements like Peter Parker no longer fires webbing from his wrist, but rather has to create webbing which he installs in a firing mechanism. Directed by Marc Webb whose previous film was 500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man stars Andrew Garfield as the titular web-slinger.
Peter Parker (Garfield) while attempting to discover what happened to his parents discovers some documents that show that his father worked with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) in the field of genetic modification. Sneaking into Oscorp under the guise of being an intern, Peter finds himself in a restricted area and is bitten by a radioactive spider, which gives him super powers. Using his new powers to impress high school girl Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone), Peter is thrust into conflict with a rampaging Lizard as he learns that with great power, comes great responsibility.
Garfield’s Spider-Man is also a lot more at ease with his new-found power. Where Tobey Maguire remained rather goofy and insecure, Garfield cracks wise with the best of them and is a far more attractive hero, oozing as he does with a natural confidence. Alongside him are a good supporting cast, with Emma Stone, Martin Sheen and Sally Field all improvements upon the original trilogies girlfriend and family. If there is a problem with The Amazing Spider-Man‘s cast it lies with Ifans. A great character actor, Ifans seems intent on playing Dr. Curt Connors as a pantomime villain, but with a supposed heart-breaking backstory, similar in a way to Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock from Spider-Man 2. Sadly Ifans doesn’t quite get the balance and so at no point does the audience feel that there is any actual peril. Instead The Amazing Spider-Man focuses on fleshing out Peter Parker’s genesis as a hero, and in this regard it is far superior to the original Spider-Man.
Director Marc Webb not only boasts the most apt name for someone overseeing a film, but he also imbues The Amazing Spider-Man with wit and charm in its central relationship and gives the audience an idea of what it was actually like for Parker to lose his family. In fact much like the other most recent comic book reboot, Batman Begins, Webb almost delights in not showing Garfield in the famous blue and red costume and when it comes time to suit up, he gives us a montage. It’s this focus on character development that seperates The Amazing Spider-Man from so many other comic book films.
One of the main problems with the original trilogy was the computer generated effects of Spider-Man actually swinging through New York City. This has been thoroughly addressed and The Amazing Spider-Man has some simply breath-taking individual moments such as the fight on the subway or the climatic battle. In fact the 3D, which is often a distraction rather than a valuable addition does work and even, dare I say, enhances the enjoyment of the action scenes.
Unfortunately with so much time spent on character arcs, the action still feels a little reigned in and the running time suffers dearly. Perhaps its a sign of the ever changing demands of modern cinema audiences, but The Amazing Spider-Man feels more than a little influenced from Twilight. Still even with this shift, it is every bit the equal of Raimi’s vision, but with Garfield proving more adept than Maguire at being your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.