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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: Spidey Like I Remember but??

Wasn't sure about this one but i decided to give it a try last night,and though when the action kicks in it's entertaining,it lacked something more than just decent actors.Maybe it is just to soon to remake a ten year old Sam Rami/Marvel film,which still looks and feels far superior to this film,or the fact that the 3D once again failed to add anything more than old gimick to the proceedings.If this was suspose to be a great reboot in the way of Batman Begins if falls flat,it feels to much like... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by evil bill at 19:41, 18 July 2012 | Report This Post


Spidey Like I Remember

This is the Spiderman I've been waiting for, not quite action and set piece wise, that'll come, but character and acting wise superb. Garfield and Stone have more chemistry in their first scene together than Maguire and Dunst ever did. I was and still am a big fan Of Raimi's originals (3 not so much) but this is the new benchmark and the scope with these actors and this new direction is immense. Definite 5 star even with its flaws ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by markieg_1983 at 01:03, 17 July 2012 | Report This Post


Spidey Like I Remember

This is the Spiderman I've been waiting for, not quite action and set piece wise, that'll come, but character and acting wise superb. Garfield and Stone have more chemistry in their first scene together than Maguire and Dunst ever did. I was and still am a big fan Of Raimi's originals (3 not so much) but this is the new benchmark and the scope with these actors and this new direction is immense. Definite 5 star even with its flaws ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by markieg_1983 at 00:28, 17 July 2012 | Report This Post


A Disappointing and Unspectacular Origin Story.

It has been ten years since Sam Raimi's popular Spider-Man trilogy began with an impressive note and it seems as though little has changed in the Marvel universe. Certainly in our own world we have since seen the rise in the popularity of super hero movies, particularly in anticipation of the recent 'Avenger's' film, and with so many other fantastic titles available and approaching (such as the hugely anticipated 'Dark Knight Rises' which promises to be one of the years biggest films and will se... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by grEEdo111 at 07:43, 16 July 2012 | Report This Post


A Disappointing and Unspectacular Origin Story.

It has been ten years since Sam Raimi's popular Spider-Man trilogy began with an impressive note and it seems as though little has changed in the Marvel universe. Certainly in our own world we have since seen the rise in the popularity of super hero movies, particularly in anticipation of the recent 'Avenger's' film, and with so many other fantastic titles available and approaching (such as the hugely anticipated 'Dark Knight Rises' which promises to be one of the years biggest films and will se... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by grEEdo111 at 00:53, 16 July 2012 | Report This Post


Grand Enough

Not as good as original ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ciaran McDaid at 00:15, 16 July 2012 | Report This Post


HUGELY ENJOYABLE !

Goods Performances from Andrew Garfield , Emma Stone, Rhys lfans. Overall this is a good Movie . ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by soulfood at 22:42, 14 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Way too soon for a re-boot

L: directorscut L: sanchia On the plus side Garfield presents a decent arker with far less self pity and whinging than the prior incarnation which is a better presentation straight off. provided a nice (if rather underwritten) romantic sidebar. The actual Spider-Man effects have improved quite dramatically. On the negative. The villain of the piece was rather pathetic with very little motivation and never came across as anything other than a monster thus taking away th... More

Posted by sanchia at 22:02, 14 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Way too soon for a re-boot

Caught this today. Dissapointing would probably be the overall feeling I had. Initially I thought a re-boot was a bit of a silly idea, then I was kinda won over by the idea of it. I re-watched the Raimi films and felt they'd aged badly, and I found them hard to sit through. So, with that in mind, I thought a re-boot would be okay, and early trailers and footage started to lok pretty promising, with snippets of a wise cracking Spidey looking pretty damn good. However, the final product... More

Posted by porntrooper at 20:46, 14 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Way too soon for a re-boot

L: sanchia On the negative. The villain of the piece was rather pathetic with very little motivation and never came across as anything other than a monster thus taking away the suspense of the piece. Ifans performance was very cardboard and pretty awful. The whole thing felt rushed and overly compressed (probably to shoehorn in the origin story again). thought he was a pretty bad villain too. It didn't really help that Spiderman seemed completely unable to really harm or bother h... More

Posted by superdan at 20:21, 14 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Way too soon for a re-boot

L: sanchia On the plus side Garfield presents a decent arker with far less self pity and whinging than the prior incarnation which is a better presentation straight off. provided a nice (if rather underwritten) romantic sidebar. The actual Spider-Man effects have improved quite dramatically. On the negative. The villain of the piece was rather pathetic with very little motivation and never came across as anything other than a monster thus taking away the suspense of the piece. ... More

Posted by directorscut at 19:56, 14 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Way too soon for a re-boot

On the plus side Garfield presents a decent Peter Parker with far less self pity and whinging than the prior incarnation which is a better presentation straight off. Stone provided a nice (if rather underwritten) romantic sidebar. The actual Spider-Man effects have improved quite dramatically. On the negative. The villain of the piece was rather pathetic with very little motivation and never came across as anything other than a monster thus taking away the suspense of the piece. Ifans... More

Posted by sanchia at 19:44, 14 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Way too soon for a re-boot

I agree with Girv although probably not with the same passion, that line was uneccessry and is pretty damaging to the sequel as the whole scenario in the sequel (if there is one) is going to carry a lot less weight IMO. Overall I felt the Empire review was spot on, for me the film was bogged down by an origin story (regardless of the minor changes) thats still fresh in the memory and I really didn't like Ifans, what a bizarre casting choice that was his lizard is also poorly realised howev... More

Posted by Dirk Miggler at 16:20, 14 July 2012 | Report This Post


Way too soon for a re-boot

Only difference of note is that Parker is now "cool" rather than the limp-wristed Maguire performance. Glad they followed the comics, which should hopefully lead to the Goblin back for Amazey-balls 2. (cue Gwen's snappy exit from the series). Was entertaining enough, but with the AMAZING reaction from seeing Raimi's Spiderman for the first time still fresh in my mind, this does little more to inspire. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danielthompson99 at 11:17, 13 July 2012 | Report This Post


Spiderman

Amazing ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by welovemovies1 at 18:33, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


Spiderman = amazing

After Raimi' 3rd installment which I found laughable, I was excited to see a reboot minus Tobey 'so cheesy' Maguire. Garfield was amazing and I think made a much more believable Spider-man than Maguire <a href= "www.welovemoviesmorethanyou.com">Seefullr eview</a> ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by welovemovies1 at 18:32, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


Amazing Spiderman

http://culturalmirrors.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/the-ama zing-spiderman/ ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chino91 at 13:52, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: DIfferent....but good different

L: Filmfan 2 L: Rgirvan44 This isn't about a superhero having ethics, it is about very human moral obligations - Peter comes off a douche and someone who puts his own needs above those of others at the end. I don't read the comics, but this is a horrible little ending. You know, it is expected one day Peter would break the promise, because that is the sort of thing these stories do - but at least give him a journey to that point. air enough, but we're assuming here that because... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 13:27, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Forgettable Spider-Man

L: Filmfan 2 L: Qwerty Norris I genuinely believe the cast deserve all the credit for its success, as they've hoodwinked people into believing they're watching a better spider-man film than they've actually got. r, given that film interpretation is very subjective, maybe some people actually think it is a better film? r maybe some people are just plain wrong? ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 13:26, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: DIfferent....but good different

L: Rgirvan44 This isn't about a superhero having ethics, it is about very human moral obligations - Peter comes off a douche and someone who puts his own needs above those of others at the end. I don't read the comics, but this is a horrible little ending. You know, it is expected one day Peter would break the promise, because that is the sort of thing these stories do - but at least give him a journey to that point. air enough, but we're assuming here that because of that scene that th... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 13:18, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: DIfferent....but good different

L: Filmfan 2 L: Rgirvan44 Getting more and more annoyed with this flick - SPOILERS At the end Spidey makes a promise to a dying father to leave his daughter alone, a daughter who previously expressed a fear that one day he would never come home. Peter then says they can't be together due to this promise. And then next scene breaks the promise with a shit eating grin, all the while Gwen grins back. So now Peter doesn't even have a sense of honour a... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 13:12, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Forgettable Spider-Man

L: Qwerty Norris I genuinely believe the cast deserve all the credit for its success, as they've hoodwinked people into believing they're watching a better spider-man film than they've actually got. r, given that film interpretation is very subjective, maybe some people actually think it is a better film? ... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 12:57, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Amazing Spider-Man

Whyderman? ... More

Posted by bennyboy1971 at 10:46, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


More reasons this move fails

1. The Lizard. His head is a perma-grinning gimp instead of the wild elongated snout, toothy, long tongued version in the comics. I guess this was to avoid getting too scary for the kiddies watching, they could at least have kept him deep green and with the signature white lab coat. 2. Misleading advertising. There were scenes/dialogue in the trailer not in the movie. Not that it would have improved it at all. 3. Messy loose ends. As others pointed out, what happened to Irfan Khan's characte... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BatSpider at 02:54, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


AMAZING SPIDERMAN - YES IT IS !!!

What a film, loved every second of it. All performances were truly amazing and I would Deffo Recommend it. Fantastic !!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ryanchallenger at 01:19, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


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