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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Andrew Garfield
Emma Stone
Rhys Ifans
Denis Leary
Campbell Scott
Sally Field
Martin Sheen.
Directors
Marc Webb.
Screenwriters
James Vanderbilt
Alvin Sargent
Steve Kloves.
Running Time
136 minutes

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The Amazing Spider-Man
The Spinbetweener Movie


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Plot
Raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field), outcast high-schooler Peter Parker (Garfield) gets duffed up by jocks, crushes on classmate Gwen Stacy (Stone) and investigates the disappearance of his parents. This last impulse leads him to his father’s co-worker, scientist Curt Connors (Ifans), and a date with a radioactive spider.


Review
The Amazing Spider-Man
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When Sony announced on January 11, 2010, that, rather than moving forward with Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man 4 they’d be rebooting the franchise from scratch, the entire internet — even webuyanycar.com — heaved with a collective groan. It was TOO SOON! It was SKEWING YOUNG! It was TWILIGHT IN SPANDEX swinging to a MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE playlist! Very rarely has the caps key been so well and truly locked.

For the most part, these fears haven’t come to pass (for a start, you could never mistake James Horner for My Chemical Romance). Marc Webb’s film, his first since (500) Days Of Summer, never goes full Nolan in terms of darkness or complexity (nor should it), but it never feels it should be re-titled The Totes Amazeballs Spider-Dude, either. Instead, it takes the high school bit of Raimi’s flick, expands it to three acts, then sutures in a scientist/green alter-ego thread, this time in the shape of Rhys Ifans’ Curt Connors/The Lizard. The result is a mixed bag, beset by muddy plotting and decent (not jaw-dropping) action set-pieces but enlivened by a focus on people and strong performances, especially from Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.

The status of geeks — and science-y geeks in particular — has shifted far deeper into the mainstream in the ten years since Maguire’s Parker. The computer programmers of Facebook, Apple and Google run the world, The Big Bang Theory is US TV’s biggest show and Comic-Con’s Hall H is the prime port of call for the entertainment industry, but Garfield’s Parker is still your stereotypical nerd: he gets hit in the face by basketballs, can’t get to his locker for snogging couples and has a solved Rubik’s Cube in his bedroom. Only this time he has mad skateboard skills (cue montage) and good hair. Webb invests more in Parker’s backstory — we meet his parents — and his quest to solve their mystery comes on like a key driver in the film. Yet the movie doesn’t really capitalise on it, typical of a number of strands (see also the search for Uncle Ben’s attacker) that are introduced then dissolve away.

The pillars of the story, though, remain the same — radioactive spider, Uncle Ben, crime-fighting begins — but Webb’s film finds different, interesting colours for the same panels. Raimi’s spider bite is a huge close-up of a spider sinking his teeth into Peter’s hand; this time around is much more matter-of-fact, with Peter barely registering the nick on his neck. Raimi details Peter’s growing awareness of his Spider-sense in a single camera move, picking up the woosh of a paper plane and globules of spit; here we get a series of comic vignettes showing Peter smashing an alarm clock, squeezing the shit out of toothpaste and alive to the deafening sounds of arachnids. The fist-fight with jock Flash in the 2002 version sees Peter dodge and weave, almost accidentally avoiding the bully’s blows before landing a killer punch; 2012’s take sees Parker in much more aggressive mode, humiliating his nemesis on a basketball court and taking huge pleasure in doing so.

Most of this feels effortless, although occasionally you feel the strain: in a big Uncle Ben lecture to Peter, the writers must have exhausted The Big Book Of Synonyms to come up with their alternative to, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Also the film does little to distinguish its sense of villainy. Rhys Ifans’ Curt Connors, an emotionally wounded, one-armed scientist hell-bent on creating a ‘World Without Weakness’ by using the regenerative powers of lizard DNA, starts as an underling to the shady Oscorp operative Ratha (Irrfan Khan), who subsequently goes AWOL from the plot, leaving Ifans to manfully shoulder Big Bad duties. By the time Connors mutates into The Lizard, an over-sized sentient salamander, his pain is reduced to setting up science shop in a sewer and a Green Goblin-esque habit of talking to himself. It’s an interesting conceit — a man whose desire to do good is so rampant it boils over into evil — and the seeds of tragedy are there, but it never really becomes poignant. Webb doesn’t import much of the visual whimsy and filmmaking ingenuity he brought to (500) Days; this is a slightly heightened but basically realistic universe.

Save the now de rigueur Stan Lee Cameo (his best yet) full of nutty comic energy and a recurring Spidey POV (Webb cam?), this is solid rather than spectacular blockbuster filmmaking. When Parker finally suits up, we get a return to the irreverent wisecracking of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko absent from Raimi: this is your sarcastic, neighbourhood Spider-Man (“Oooh, my weakness is small knives”), nonchalantly sneezing webbing to apprehend villains or beating up street hoods — to use Andy Townsend parlance — for fun.

The return of the web-shooters — Raimi fiddled with the character’s mythology by making Parker’s webbing an organic bi-product of his mutated biology — may be a return to tradition, but it is also an attempt to dramatically demonstrate Peter’s smarts.

The mixture of practical swinging — watch him run along on the sides of trucks — and consistently strong CG works well, capturing the dynamics and mood of Mark Bagley’s art in Ultimate Spider-Man. Yet as the action increases, the spectacle gets less impressive. A car-on-fire rescue works far better than the final showdown(s). It also doesn’t help that Webb is perhaps too hip to commit to some of the corniness inherent in the strip that comes to Raimi naturally. There is a late-in-the-day episode where the city pulls together to help our hero that should get you on your feet cheering. Instead it just feels half-hearted.

But where The Amazing Spider-Man does find freshness, and its feet, is in its believable, touching central relationship. There are dedicated teen flicks that don’t do awkward conversations in high-school corridors as well as Garfield and Stone deliver them. Peter goes through rites of passage here — the thrill of being in your best girl’s bedroom, the intimidation of meeting her police chief father (Leary, who snags laughs in a gruff role), the struggle to eat branzino that’s served up for dinner — and Garfield, 28 but not looking it, proves himself to be a master of social ineptitude, a godfather of gauche. He also gets strong, quiet scenes with Sally Field’s Aunt May (less annoying than Rosemary Harris’ incarnation) and Martin Sheen, delivering maximum Martin Sheeniness, as Uncle Ben. This means it’s a long time before Parker gets in the suit, but it’s time well spent.

Along with Kirk vs. Picard (Picard), Alien vs. Aliens (Alien) and the Cantina Band vs. The Max Rebo Trio (too close to call), the geek debate over Mary Jane vs. Gwen Stacy as Peter Parker’s true love reigns supreme, but Emma Stone does a lot to tip the balance in Gwen’s favour. Stone’s Stacy is charming (“Easy bug boy”), resourceful and funny, especially in a conversation with her dad about cocoa (honestly). It is a rare moment in a comic-book film where the characters talk about something other than the plot. The Amazing Spider-Man proves they should do it more often.


Verdict
Graced with great performances from Garfield and Stone, The Amazing Spider-Man is a rare comic-book flick that is better at examining relationships than superheroism. If it doesn’t approach the current benchmark of Avengers Assemble, it still delivers a different enough, enjoyable origin story to live comfortably alongside the Raimi era.


Reviewed by Ian Freer


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Amazing Spider-Man
Empire Star Rating

RE: Missing the point, reboots are meant to be better than the original.

L: Will Frey While I was a big fan of the Tobey Mcquire franchise initially, They completely lost me with the third movie. I honestly wanted to scream at the screen when I saw it. Now when I saw "The Amazing Spider Man" starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, I was very pleasantly re-introduced to Spider Man & Co in a completely new way. It seems much more younger, fresher, cleaner. Overall, it was a success. I'd give it a 7 out of 10. Electro should be exciting in the sequel. lectr... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 15:55, 16 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Missing the point, reboots are meant to be better than the original.

While I was a big fan of the Tobey Mcquire franchise initially, They completely lost me with the third movie. I honestly wanted to scream at the screen when I saw it. Now when I saw "The Amazing Spider Man" starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, I was very pleasantly re-introduced to Spider Man & Co in a completely new way. It seems much more younger, fresher, cleaner. Overall, it was a success. I'd give it a 7 out of 10. Electro should be exciting in the sequel. ... More

Posted by Will Frey at 21:18, 15 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Missing the point, reboots are meant to be better than the original.

Amazing Spiderman I am a huge fan of the original trilogy starring Tobey Maguire and directed by Sam Raimi, so I had high expectations for this spiderman film. I must say whilst it was a decent film, it did not live up to the reputation set by Raimi. I give this film 2.5/5 which is 5/10 Fast paced and cool action sequences, the always great Emma Stone and some decent visual effects. But the writing is... to be put nicely, Awkward and at times, slow compared to the original Spiderman... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dillon.anderson1378 at 10:49, 26 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Missing the point, reboots are meant to be better than the original.

Just saw this at the weekend. Firstly, to those that have said that as Spiderman 3 was poor a reboot was the only option - why not just make a better fourth film? Just because one film in a series is a bit duff, doesn't mean your only option is to completely disregard all others and start again from scratch. I know opinion seems to be divided on the reboot, but must admit I didn't see the point in it. The good parts just seemed to be rehashes of Raimi's version (can't believe they were la... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by brucejackiejet at 15:27, 20 May 2013 | Report This Post


Not good enough

Considering this is a reboot of such a recent film I had hoped that they had a completely different take on the franchise planned. Unfortunately, they just decided on a rehash of Sam Raimi's first Spiderman film. Some things were improved upon; the balance of things weren't. I can only despair that the thinking behind such a move is a completely cynical exercise in money making with no artistic merit whatsoever. I guess this sets a new precedent and we can all look forward to the films we love b... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MikeyTheSaint at 10:13, 20 January 2013 | Report This Post


Not good enough

Considering this is a reboot of such a recent film I had hoped that they had a completely different take on the franchise planned. Unfortunately, they just decided on a rehash of Sam Raimi's first Spiderman film. Some things were improved upon; the balance of things weren't. I can only despair that the thinking behind such a move is a completely cynical exercise in money making with no artistic merit whatsoever. I guess this sets a new precedent and we can all look forward to the films we love b... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MikeyTheSaint at 01:25, 20 January 2013 | Report This Post


Useless

Really just didn't care at all for this - boring =/= amazing? The original Sam Raimi flick wasn't perfect but at least it had character, and a lot of it. This is just tedious, recycled and rehashed. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rich at 16:47, 28 December 2012 | Report This Post


More enjoyable than I thought it would be

I'd put it on a par with Raimi's to be honest. Raimi's isn't the greatest film in the world either ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chris wootton at 16:00, 27 December 2012 | Report This Post


Amazing

I would rate this 4.5 stars if I could, but there's no half star rating option. I was very impressed by this film, having loved the first two Raimi Spider-Man movies as a kid I was apprehensive about the reboot, but I think it's not only a better movie, but a better representation of Spider-Man. It shows the true tragedy surrounding the life of Peter Parker, but rather than make the character a self-pitying crybaby like the original trilogy did, this new version shows him as a character constan... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AC1993 at 15:34, 20 December 2012 | Report This Post


Great start to reboot

Loved this, liked Garfield as spiderman and it looks like the next one is gonna have more edge to it with another girl and some extra bad guys. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rcrofty7 at 18:01, 04 December 2012 | Report This Post


A solid take on

I can understand why people are saying this is too soon for a reboot but I also agree that Raimi lost the plot and killed it with the 3rd one. I found this to be a good, solid take on Spiderman with a great performance from Andrew Garfield. The bad guy could've been better but was ok. I think overall this is a very good origins story and look forward to see where they take it with the next one. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dannyfletch at 21:01, 30 November 2012 | Report This Post


Did people really want Raimi's Spiderman 4 (with the Vulture) Thank god the rebooted it

What I don't get is how come only weeks after a successful Batman Trilogy the whole internet community (including Empire), are writing articles and discussing plans and are excited to reboot Batman, or have him star in the Justice League. Yet 5/6 years after the horrendous franchise ending Spiderman 3, people just whined and moaned, "Waaa,, it's too soon and pointless". I was delighted they rebooted the franchise, is was really they're only option. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jamie_M at 13:08, 28 November 2012 | Report This Post


A reboot was Spidey's only option,, stop complaining!

Do people not remember Spiderman 3, it was a disaster, a reboot was the only option if we wanted to see more Spiderman movies. And seeing as it grossed over 700 million and got good critical response I'm guessing people did want to see more Spidey films. If you were one of the moaners who said it was to soon and pointless, simple solution, don't fuc#ing watch it, whats the problem? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jamie_M at 12:54, 28 November 2012 | Report This Post


Missing the point, reboots are meant to be better than the original.

Unlike my friends, I was skeptical regarding the release of The Amazing Spider-Man. I think, like many people it was too soon for a reboot considering, the first trilogy began the birth of the modern day superhero movies (Batman, Avengers spring to mind). Unfortunately, my fears became reality when I went to see the film. I couldn't identify with the characters (always believing that something was missing), and thought that the CGI was sloppy (would have been easier to gone with a proper villain... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DanielTurner1990 at 11:20, 09 November 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Not-so Amazing Spiderman

I preferred this to either of Raimi's films. Garfield is miles better than Maguire in the role and despite the Lizard having some truly woeful CGI I think he was an alright villain. I'm a bit on the fence as to whether or not a reboot was required but considering that Raimi killed off the most iconic villains (2 Green Goblins, Doc Ock, Venom and Sandman) I can't really see what else they could do. ... More

Posted by Harry Tuttle at 11:51, 05 November 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Not-so Amazing Spiderman

Utterly tedious and pointless remake. More a remake rather than a reboot. Too similar to Raimi movies but without their charm. ... More

Posted by fiercehairdo at 11:23, 05 November 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Not-so Amazing Spiderman

The Amazing Spider-Man The -Man? well not quite. With the Raimi franchise finished only five years ago in 2007 did we need a reboot of this super hero? in my opinion no we didn't and this film hasn't really changed my mind. One can't deny the impressive new visuals and ideas for this new feature, Spider-Man does look good with new state of the art CGI effects and 'spidey' POV as he streaks across the night sky. The suit is pretty much the same albeit for some minor cosmetic difference... More

Posted by Phubbs at 06:31, 06 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Not-so Amazing Spiderman

L: directorscut Spider-Man was always wise-cracking (too much IMO --- and it would have been worse in the movies had they done it) but Parker was always going "My life sucks." "Why do I have to be Spider-Man" "Aunt May is sick with and STD AGAIN???" "Why MEEEEE????" :D] - I like the wise-cracking side of Spiderman as so many superheros are deadly serious or fairly boring personality wise. It sets him aside from the pack. ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 19:52, 22 August 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Not-so Amazing Spiderman

Spider-Man was always wise-cracking (too much IMO --- and it would have been worse in the movies had they done it) but Parker was always going "My life sucks." "Why do I have to be Spider-Man" "Aunt May is sick with and STD AGAIN???" "Why MEEEEE????" ... More

Posted by directorscut at 19:26, 22 August 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Not-so Amazing Spiderman

He's always come across a cool wise-cracking type in the comics I've read ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 19:20, 22 August 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Not-so Amazing Spiderman

He was certainly a whiny nerd during the Stan Lee era. ... More

Posted by directorscut at 19:18, 22 August 2012 | Report This Post


The Not-so Amazing Spiderman

This whole exercise felt a bit pointless especially considering they wasted a ton of time deciding to start the story from scratch. They should have just piled straight in with Spiderman as an established superhero because the Maguire films are still so fresh in people's minds. While they assembled a cool cast ultimately I was a bit disappointed with both Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone - I never really liked Maguire in the role as I felt he was a bit of a whiney nerd, and sadly Garfield ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 17:43, 22 August 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Review by: CS-Reviews

Just got back from the cinema and enjoyed this movie although it's bogged by a weak villain and some sloppy writing. Garfield and Stone are joys on-screen and it's the human story that works best. ... More

Posted by Lazarus munkey at 20:54, 07 August 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Review by: CS-Reviews

Finally got round to it last night and really enjoyed it. Not amazing but as a jumping off point for a new spin (sorry) on the character it was solid. Thought Garfield was really good and the rest of the cast nailed it too, for what they had. More Ifans would have been nice, as against my initial reactions I really liked him in it. While at times I couldn¡¯t help thinking about the Raimi films, it did just about have enough of a fresh feel and look to stand up. But for me Raimi jus... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by pete_traynor at 09:56, 02 August 2012 | Report This Post


Review by: CS-Reviews

Having been just five years since we last saw Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-man is a highly enjoyable superhero movie with only a couple of minor flaws. It is immediately evident that some details are different, however this tale follows the familiar Spider-man story. A scientifically altered spider bites Peter Parker, causing him to gain spider-like powers of enhanced strength and agility, heightened senses and the ability to climb walls. He is then determined to a life of cri... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by CSReviews at 13:33, 31 July 2012 | Report This Post


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