Movie Reviews

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’: Swinging good

By Wang DexianMovies - 28 June 2012 12:35 PM | Updated 05 July 2012

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’: Swinging good

Face front, true believer! Andrew Garfield is your new friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man

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Rating: 4/5

When this reboot of Spider-Man was announced, most fans (like us) let out a huge groan. Our collective Spider-sense was sent tingling with fears that Spidey would be exploited, cut in a MTV friendly way to appeal to a new generation.

Sandwiched between two titanic superhero movies (‘The Avengers’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’), it seemed like Spidey was going to be the odd one out in the biggest superhero movie summer season yet.

I don't suppose I could convince you to come down here and fight like a spider?

Well, we're happy to report that our fears have not been realized and that ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is actually kind of amazing. And while it's not the fresh breath of air that the original ‘Spider-Man’ was back in 2002, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is arguably executed better.

A much improved cast stands out as the biggest and best improvement, with Andrew Garfield proving to be a much more likable and expressive Peter Parker. Unlike Tobey Maguire's meek, mopey and somewhat one-dimensional take of Peter Parker, Garfield has some spunk to him. He quips a whole lot more and he also skates, making for a much cooler Parker. He's a still science nerd, so it's very believable that he'd get picked on. But he sure doesn't back down.

Garfield plays the part just right, with the amount of heart that a young teenager with bright aspirations would have, but also with the vulnerability of a young man on the cusp of adulthood. It helps too that his chemistry with Emma Stone is a lot more convincing than Tobey with Kirsten.

Spidey's first love, Gwen Stacy is here instead of more well-known Mary Jane Watson, and her shyness is the perfect foil for Parker, their budding teenage romance is rather adorable and handled well by Marc Webb, the director of ‘500 Days Of Summer’, who in hindsight was the perfect choice for such material.

As Spidey fans know, Peter's heart belonged to that blonde student way before he ever met Mary Jane Watson

Great supporting performances from Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Denis Leary as Captain Stacy are also a bonus. Leary as Capt. Stacy, playing Gwen's dad who disapproves of Spidey the vigilante and Peter the boyfriend, has one of the better story arcs in the movie.

That sense of freshness of the cast does help to give what is a pretty well-known story a little more compelling. The first act is pretty standard Spidey origin stuff between him and Uncle Ben.

Much of the first half will seem similar to those who have the 2002 outing fresh in their mind, but it's necessary though, as the cementing of Peter's relationship between him, Uncle Ben and the rest of his world would serve to be the basis of the tragedy soon to follow.

And once that deed is done, the plot really takes off. It turns out that Peter is the catalyst that transforms the venerable Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys IFans) into a giant green lizard-man; guilt kicked in and that’s what spurred Peter to save the day as Spider-Man

Then, the action truly takes centre-stage, with the action scenes bouncing off the screen. Spidey swings, crawls and poses like he was drawn straight out of the comic book panels. The 3D works very well here. We always thought the Sam Raimi’s swinging shots were really awesome, but the ones here jump out of the screen with even more dynamism and energy. Maybe Webb's choice to have actual stuntmen swinging through the city paid off. But there's no doubt that it's helped in some way by Garfield's (and various stuntmen) commitment to adapting their body language and movement to be like that of a spider in their scenes when he's moving or fighting as Spider-Man.

The Lizard is also great, conjuring memories of another ferocious green transforming monster from earlier this summer. We thought that Dr. Connors was too much of a weird creepy guy from the trailers but we’re happy to say that there is still an element of that unwilling monster element at play here.

All in all, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is a winner. For the most part, it’s the classic story everyone knows, with a few cosmetic changes and a stronger focus on the romance. It’s a romantic, coming of age superhero flick -- it's not quite the dark “Dark Knight-meets-Spider-Man” movie we were rumoured to receive but that's fine with us.

Spider-Man and Batman are different characters completely, and this as an edgier expansion of what Sam Raimi did with the original movies, and it just plain works.

Now with the origin story out of the way, we can look forward to new Spidey adventures, some of which are hinted in the movie. Maybe, they'll introduce MJ for a teenage love triangle? Who knows? We can't wait. Bring on the sequel.

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ opens in theatres 29 June 2012