The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Oh let joy be unbridled. A superhero film franchise reboot. A superhero film franchise reboot, only five years after the last instalment of the previous attempt hit cinema screens. Oh how I wish The Amazing Spider-Man had been awful so that I could roll out all of my best sarcastic put-downs.
But I can’t. Because it was actually pretty good.
Part of the problem here, I suspect, is that unlike approximately 80% of the rest of the world I didn’t like the previous Spiderman films. It was Toby McGuire. His simperingly vacant Peter Parker was both unbelievable and intensely annoying. He was always whinging about something, which might be true to the comics, but did not endear him or the character to me.
So what was different here? Well, Andrew Garfield was much better than McGuire for a start. Instead of vapid smiling, Garfield exudes the most cringingly brilliant teenage awkwardness. Where McGuire’s Parker was clueless, Garfield’s was simply constrained by self doubt.
The thing Garfield had down here was humanity. He made Peter Parker actually feel like a real person, and his Spidey-puns actually gelled with that character. Donning the mask let him put his self-esteem issues aside long enough to actually be the person he wanted to be, whereas McGuire’s interpretation was really two separate characters.
There was your usual mad science, with Dr Curt Connors making biochemistry do things that I’m pretty sure it can’t actually do (read: turning people into giant lizards), and the climactic big beasty battle felt like pretty standard fare, but as I’ve already outlined Garfield’s acting gave it a more believable base from which to go all fantastical from.
Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey also deserves a mention, really, providing a pretty solid love interest. Again, I’m a little concerned that it may just be a case of them not being Kirsten Dunst or Mary Jane respectively (neither of which particularly impressed in the previous trilogy), but the fact is that she felt like an integral part of the story, not just glued on for the sake of pacifying the fans.
There are, I’m certain, endless other blogs out there arguing about how true it was or wasn’t to the original comic, but I honestly couldn’t care less. All I’m interested is how it performed as a film, and despite my prior prejudice I enjoyed it a lot. Reintroducing a character that we already feel very familiar with was a bit halting at the beginning, but the subtle changes were effective and backed up by a solid task.
One thing I’d comment on though: aren’t the traditional “post credits teasers” usually…after the credits? As a reward to the cinema-goers who stuck around the very end? Well, that’s how I’ve always thought the justification worked, hence my slight confusion at The Amazing Spider-Man putting it in the middle of the credits. But whatever.
The biggest praise that I can give The Amazing Spider-Man is that I’m actually looking forward to the sequel. And from a position of being bored of superhero films, uninterested in Spiderman, and generally a little cynical towards the whole thing, I think that’s a pretty good achievement.