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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: The Forgettable Spider-Man

L: Qwerty Norris L: Harry Tuttle As to the complaints about rebooting the franchise, well they had no choice really considering Raimi killed off 2 versions of the Green Goblin, Eddie Brock & Venom and Doc Ock. Granted, they had Lizard, Kraven, Electro and Mysterio left to play with (as well as a load of b listers) but you have to have Norman Osborne and Oscorp available at the least in a Spidey franchise. If this spawns a sequel then hopefully we'll get a decent Green G... More

Posted by Harry Tuttle at 13:46, 11 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Forgettable Spider-Man

L: Harry Tuttle As to the complaints about rebooting the franchise, well they had no choice really considering Raimi killed off 2 versions of the Green Goblin, Eddie Brock & Venom and Doc Ock. Granted, they had Lizard, Kraven, Electro and Mysterio left to play with (as well as a load of b listers) but you have to have Norman Osborne and Oscorp available at the least in a Spidey franchise. If this spawns a sequel then hopefully we'll get a decent Green Goblin. ut they did have a ch... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 13:37, 11 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Forgettable Spider-Man

I'm off to watch this on Sunday and I can't wait to be honest. I always thought the Raimi films were decent but massively over rated, I think the main problem for me was that I thought Maguire was an awful Peter Parker.   As to the complaints about rebooting the franchise, well they had no choice really considering Raimi killed off 2 versions of the Green Goblin, Eddie Brock & Venom and Doc Ock. Granted, they had Lizard, Kraven, Electro and Mysterio left to play with (as well ... More

Posted by Harry Tuttle at 13:21, 11 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Forgettable Spider-Man

L: laj105 ...but the new grittier tone was spectacularly misjudged. eally disagree with that, but to each his own. ... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 12:49, 11 July 2012 | Report This Post


The Forgettable Spider-Man

I wrote my full thoughts below, but in short Andy Garfield and Emma Stone were great, but the new grittier tone was spectacularly misjudged. The action was also uninspired, despite having the best Spidey effects since film no. 2. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by laj105 at 12:37, 11 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Amazing Spider-Man

I saw it last night and really enjoyed it. The key to its success is the exceptional cast. Garfield, Stone & Sheen are superb - even Ifans impressed me. In fact, within minutes of Garfield and Stone appearing on screen it was apparent just how miscast Maguire and Dunst were. I saw it in 2D and everything looked superb. There was only a few small missteps - such as Irrfan Khan rather suddenly vanishing from proceedings (Did he die? I thought Spider-man saved him) and, whilst I'm sure New Yo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jmebaby25 at 12:03, 11 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Amazing Spider-Man

Granted, Doctor Who assumes a certain amount of knowledge from the viewer about the character of the Doctor. However, consider it from the point of view of the companion. The show arguably uses that character as the 'way in' for the audience and as such there is a reboot more often than not. People tend not to acknowledge it as much though as the Doctor is the main character. Each time there is a new companion though, we have the origin story that pretty much always involved the same things; re... More

Posted by Gazdance at 09:43, 11 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Amazing Spider-Man

L: Gazdance Also, there's nothing wrong with rebooting a franchise after ten years. Doctor Who reboots with a new incarnation of the same character every few years. Arguably so does James Bond. Why not Spiderman? get what you mean and I do agree with you to an extent but those probably aren't the best examples you could have given.Batan Begins after Batman and Robin may have been better. The only real problem I have is that, as a fan of Spider-Man, I already know the origin story t... More

Posted by Shifty Bench at 23:57, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Amazing Spider-Man

L: Gazdance Also, there's nothing wrong with rebooting a franchise after ten years. Doctor Who reboots with a new incarnation of the same character every few years. Arguably so does James Bond. Why not Spiderman? octor Who changes his appearance every so often. The show doesn't actually start from scratch every-time a new actor comes in. Raimi's first film may have been released ten years ago, but it is still relatively fresh in the minds of those who saw it. Re-starting the fr... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 20:46, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Amazing Spider-Man

Also, there's nothing wrong with rebooting a franchise after ten years. Doctor Who reboots with a new incarnation of the same character every few years. Arguably so does James Bond. Why not Spiderman? ... More

Posted by Gazdance at 20:23, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Amazing Spider-Man

It was pretty good overall but it didn't wow me like The Avengers did so successfully already. It felt less ambitious and the pacing was slow so it didn't gather momentum plot-wise like the best of the superhero films do (Spider-Man 2, for instance). It also seemed content to lean a bit too heavily on character moments, and I'm saying this as someone not averse to them. I can't say there were any true "Fuck yeah" moments either. It does have a lot of good smaller bits - - The Lizard effec... More

Posted by Larry of Arabia at 19:56, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: 10 reasons why unAmazing Spiderman is SHIT

L: Qwerty Norris So, my review of the Amazing Spider-Man, and why I consider it to be not so amazing. www.literallygeeking.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/review-amaz ing-spider-man.htmlote]   Good review: spot on about the lack of connection between Spidey and the Big Apple. ... More

Posted by st3veebee at 15:04, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0948470/]The Amazing Spider-Manhen the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise was announced I`m sure I wasn`t the only one on the planet who was sceptical about this. But as more and more images were revealed that became lesser, the first trailers made me highly enthousiastical. Could this really become something good? The answer is a wholehearted "YES". With only his second feature film Marc Webb (what`s in a name?) he shows that next to brilliant little r... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 14:56, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: 10 reasons why unAmazing Spiderman is SHIT

So, my review of the Amazing Spider-Man, and why I consider it to be not so amazing. http://www.literallygeeking.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/revi ew-amazing-spider-man.html ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 14:32, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: 10 reasons why unAmazing Spiderman is SHIT

So edgy, so cool. ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 13:51, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: 10 reasons why unAmazing Spiderman is SHIT

... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 13:32, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: 10 reasons why unAmazing Spiderman is SHIT

L: BatSpider 1. Shit cynicism. A reboot better be brilliant coming just 10 years after the original, otherwise it just looks the blatantly hurried cash grab that it is. It's actually a lot worse than not even good. 2. Shit dialogue. One of the lines thudded something like "he's a man of many masks, I understand". Holy freakin' fuck... 3. Shit writing. At one point Spiderman goes all urban gangsta... is this the Spidey wit we've been waiting for? What the fuck? 4. Shit casting. Pete... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 13:23, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: 10 reasons why unAmazing Spiderman is SHIT

L: BatSpider Emma Stone's unattractive "seen-it-all porn actress on crack" schtick. re you deliberately going out of your way to be the most unpleasant member of this board? ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 13:22, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: 10 reasons why unAmazing Spiderman is SHIT

L: BatSpider 4. Shit casting. Peter and Gwen are supposed to 17. Garfield is 28 or 29. Stone must be in her mid-20s. The teenage actors' union should be pretty pissed off. Isn't Garfield actually older than Toby Maguire!? o, Maguire is 37, so would have been 27 when he made the first film. They can't cast actual 17 year olds because 'kids' under 18 can only work so many hours and since a lot of the film is at night and Garfield is in the majority of the scenes, it's not practical. That ... More

Posted by Shifty Bench at 13:17, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: 10 reasons why unAmazing Spiderman is SHIT

Empire cut me off in my prime. 9. The creepy scene where the boy apparently only gets enough courage to climb out the car by putting on a Spiderman mask. Yeah, right. 10. I can't remember what 10. was. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BatSpider at 13:07, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


10 reasons why unAmazing Spiderman is SHIT

1. Shit cynicism. A reboot better be brilliant coming just 10 years after the original, otherwise it just looks the blatantly hurried cash grab that it is. It's actually a lot worse than not even good. 2. Shit dialogue. One of the lines thudded something like "he's a man of many masks, I understand". Holy freakin' fuck... 3. Shit writing. At one point Spiderman goes all urban gangsta... is this the Spidey wit we've been waiting for? What the fuck? 4. Shit casting. Peter and Gwen ar... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BatSpider at 02:10, 10 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: DIfferent....but good different

L: superdan Squote]ORIGINAL: Filmfan 2 Maybe Gwen's so full of grief after her father's death that she realises she really loves/needs Peter, so she's able to move past her fear. asn't really about Gwen's fear, it was about her father's fear that being with Parker would bring her harm. We are lead to believe that Parker accepts this even though he finds it hearbreaking, only for him to change his mind 10 minutes later in a cocky 'Screw your dad' kind of way. It was a bit unedifyin... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 14:58, 09 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing but not Perfect

... More

Posted by bruised_blood at 13:27, 09 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing but not Perfect

... More

Posted by bruised_blood at 13:26, 09 July 2012 | Report This Post


Amazing but not Perfect

It was great to see Spidey back on the big screen because I have been missing his presence since 2007's Spider-Man 3. I was pleasantly surprised by this version and how great it was. I believed it was better than Raimi's by containing more real life problems for Parker like that of the original comic books showing that Spider-Man is really just a normal guy in an extraordinary situation. However, there was a certain lack of Spider action for a film designed to re-birth a franchise and get people... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by CambiMan at 21:43, 08 July 2012 | Report This Post


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