The Amazing Spider-manI guess the new motto in Hollywood is “if it’s not broke, just reboot it”.

The fact that Sony and the producers of the Spider-man films felt the need to restart the series was an odd one.

It had been a mere decade since the first Spider-man film and with the last instalment, the much maligned Spider-man 3 being released back in 2007, it begged the question whether a reboot was really necessary.

Fair enough, Spider-man 3 was a mess and the series star Tobey Maguire and the director Sam Raimi didn’t want to return.  But that didn’t stop the James Bond series for about 30 years.

So, why the urge to reboot?

Well, I guess after the box office success stories from the likes of Star Trek, Casino Royale and Nolan’s Batman films, reboots were seen to be popular and bankable.

And to be fair, The Amazing Spider-man does it’s best to try and ground Peter Parker in a more tangible universe. It also makes a good effort of trying to separate itself from Raimi’s work – instead of going over the same old circumstances in the original film, Marc Webb’s effort focuses more on the fact that Parker has no parents.

In fact, it comes across as something that is essential to Parker’s story.

Andrew Garfield, while a bit too good looking to be considered a complete high school nerd, does present Peter Parker as something of an outsider. We see him getting frustrated at his parents for abandoning him and the scenes between him and Martin Sheen’s Ben Parker present the whole surrogate father/son relationship with much more substance than ever witnessed in the Raimi trilogy.

His take on Spider-man is also a lot more amusing than Maguire’s.

Using his web slingers (which are constructed by himself) for comical effect and mocking the various street villains he encounters during his earlier antics, it is possibly the most striking difference between this and the 2002 effort.

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey

Emma Stone is delightful as Gwen Stacey – Parker’s high school love interest.  With her golden blonde locks and sporting a lab coat, mini-skirt and boots, she looks like she has been taken straight out of the page of the comic books.

The awkwardness between Peter and Gwen is brilliantly played out and is familiar territory for people who may have seen Marc Webb’s previous film, 500 Days of Summer.

Denis Leary is also very good as George Stacey, Gwen’s father and the chief of the New York police.  His presence brings a sense of authority to the proceedings that was sorely missed in Raimi’s films.  Despite the fact he is somewhat sidelined, his character is well rounded and his dislike of Spider-man’s vigilante handy work and his initial distrust of Peter Parker is well balanced and argued.

Rhys Ifans is an inspired choice for Dr Curt Connors, the disabled scientist who is missing an arm and later goes on to become The Lizard.  While it’s a shame that we never got to see Dylan Baker fully transform into The Lizard in Raimi’s trilogy, Rhys Ifans take on the character is engaging enough and his performance manages to invoke enough sympathy for the tragic Dr Connors.

Where The Amazing Spider-man trips is in its attempt to explain the back-story of Parker’s parents. Every time this plot strand was brought up, I was longing for a disaster to happen so we got to see more of Spider-man doing his thing and stopping the bad guys.

Having said that, this plot is clearly a device designed to set the film apart from the Raimi’s work and was  no doubt the groundwork for future instalments.

Rhys Ifans as Dr Curt Connors

Rhys Ifans as Dr Curt Connors

The filmmakers have also put in a lot of effort to visually distance this from Raimi’s films.

Since most of the action takes place during the evening, the scenes in which Spider-man is swinging in New York are notably darker and look more akin to something we would expect from Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

Even James Howard’s score abandons the trademark themes of Danny Elfman’s work – a decision that certainly helps with giving the film it’s own identity.

I know people reading this will probably complain that I’m probably too busy comparing this newer take with Raimi’s version. But the fact of the matter is that for me at least, it still felt too soon for a complete reboot.

Maybe it’s a sign of my age, but I’m not comfortable living in a world where Tobey Maguire, James Franco and Kirsten Dunst are considered old hat. And it’s an odd experience watching this Spider-man without any of the key signatures that I grew accustomed to over the course of Raimi’s films.

Having said that, The Amazing Spider-man is a solid enough film, with Andrew Garfield making the role of Peter Parker his own and setting up the future instalments nicely.

 

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.