If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Reboot or remake? Many will be asking this question when watching the latest Spider-man film. This beloved comic book
character has now been rebooted after three commercially successful adaptations. The Amazing Spider-man may be similar
to what we have already witnessed, but it matches the first two Spider-man films in quality through likeability and thrills.
Despite the origin story of our friendly neighbourhood Spider-man being a commonly referenced part of popular culture (see
Kick-Ass for a detailed example), this interpretation is a darker look at these important events. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield)
is an intelligent but quiet teenager living the typical high school lifestyle. His curiosity for science leads him to search for the
answers to his father’s research and parent's disappearance. The signs point to renound Oscorp. scientist Dr. Curt Connors
(Rhys Ifans). His research, and alluring protégé and classmate Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), draw Parker into a potentially
dangerous web. From then on it’s the well-known elements of Spidey’s origin- bit by a genetically modified spider, uncle
Ben’s death and the evolution of this nerdy nobody into the masked superhero known as Spider-man. Apart from spinning
webs anytime and catching thieves just like flies, Spider-man must also stop Connor’s radical genetic change into a reptilian
beast from threatening the safety of New York City.
If there’s one broken strand in this well-developed web, it’s that the film feels essentially like a remake of the revered 2002
Sam Raimi directed original. Despite its darker tone and unique nuances, the film’s story and characters hit the same notes
as the original, without enough to clearly differentiate between the two. The one definitive difference however is the search for
Parker’s parents. Despite their mysterious disappearance an intriguing aim for his search for answers, the film forgets
about his parent’s involvement within the first act. The film instead focuses on elements we are accustomed to such as the
love story and hero/villain conflict.
Despite being hard not to compare it to the 2002 interpretation of Spider-man’s origin story, the film benefits from its clever
direction and witty screenplay. With a fitting last name for this popular series, Mark Webb ((500) Days of Summer) has
successfully transitioned from directing films of largely different genres. Elements of his unique directorial style are
comfortably added to this interpretation. After creating a likeable yet realistically flawed screen couple out of Joseph Gordon-
Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer, Webb knows how to create engaging yet awkward angst out of these
beloved comic book characters. Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker communicate alarmingly like teenagers in the halls of any high
school, with Webb clearly aware of the relatable and personal problems inflicting that demographic.
These beloved characters are aided by the charismatic and likeable cast. Garfield and Stone (currently a real life couple)
create powerful chemistry faster than you can say ‘bug-boy’. Brought together through cute interactions, Garfield and Stone
create empathetic lead characters and a lovely partnership. Garfield’s performance as the sympathetic Peter Parker is
palpable and proves he can lead a superhero franchise after his supporting role in The Social Network. With the determination
of Aaron Johnson’s character in Kick-Ass and the agility of Sebastian Foulcan in Casino Royale, Parker is a witty and
effective presence here. Ifans, known primarily for playing the hilarious room-mate in Notting Hill, is engaging as the focused
yet morally driven antagonist as his sympathetic side is brought to the surface. The Lizard is easily the best cinematic Spider-
man villain since Doc-Ock. The intricate and disgusting creature design of the Lizard creates a menacing presence for Spider-
man to face. Also providing fun performances are comedian Dennis Leary as Gwen’s father Captain George Stacy and
Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben.
Webb’s visual style is also a breath taking insight into the origins of a superhero. With the current popularity of superhero
cinema and with similar themes explored in the recent surprise hit Chronicle, Webb still manages to create a noticeable visual
flair for every action scene and montage throughout. The cinematography is gorgeous; capturing every frame of Spider-man’s
super strength and agility. The camera loops and whirls through every wall and crevasse in New York City as spider-man’s
parkour and acrobatic wall crawling and web swinging skills are documented with the vertigo inducing thrills needed in a
special effect-driven Spider-man flick. Webb’s editing style, synonymous with the non- linear story telling of his previous film,
succeeds in creating an energetic rush within each action set piece. Moments of genetic change in Peter Parker edited
together with stylish choreography illustrate an adventurous superhero figure. His sub conscious is even brought into light;
changing to adapt to spider genetics when placed in a bad situation such as the subway fight sequence.
Verdict: Spider-man swings back into action in this charming and visceral thrill-ride.