Andrew Garfield steps into the spandex costume as Spider-man/Peter Parker, in the fourth instalment of the Spider-man franchise. Was it worth re-booting the story with a new actor in the leading role? Check out my thoughts after the jump.
From the outset I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of the character or the previous films – in fact, I have almost no recollection of what even happened in the earlier films, of which I have only seen two of. Therefore, I viewed the film as an entirely singular film in it’s own right. I can’t pretend I know enough to analyse it in comparison to the other films, or the comic books from which the character originates from. So with that in mind, here are my thoughts….
We meet Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) as a young boy who has just been left with his Aunt (Sally Field) and Uncle (Martin Sheen) by his parents who fear they are in danger. Peter’s father had been working on a cross-species genetics equation which could make limb regeneration possible for humans. His parent’s fears for their safety turned out to be correct, and they are both killed, leaving the young Peter to be bought up by his aunt and uncle.
Fast-forward many years, and Peter is now a high-school student. He discovers an old briefcase of his fathers’ which contains notes about the cross-species genetics equation, and he decides to find out more about his research by tracking down his father’s old research partner Dr Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans). It turns out Conners has continued with the research, and while Peter is snooping around Conner’s lab he is bitten by a genetically modified spider, which gives him the powers the character Spider-man is so famous for. Peter decides to give Conners the equation to complete the limb-regeneration formula, after which Conners (who has only one arm) decides to experiment on himself, with disastrous results. Peter has to deal with his own issues at home and at school, adjust to his new state of being, and stop Conners before he causes widespread chaos and death.
From what I remember from the first two films, I recall thinking the Tobey Maguire version of Peter Parker was drab, and a character I couldn’t really get behind. The same can’t be said for Garfield, who has been extremely well-cast here. I like this version of Peter much better – he has a cute awkwardness about him, at school he’s different but no outcast, and he’s quite a relatable character. The best part of the film was watching him grow into his powers and figure out what he was capable off – these scenes provided most of the [few] laughs in the film. Stone is also well-cast – she and Garfield have really great chemistry and I love the attitude she gives the character Gwen.
While Peter was an interesting character, the same can’t be said for Dr Conners/The Lizard played by Rhys Ifans. He is a very weak villain by comic book standards, and I never really felt that the was a real threat (perhaps because his transformation into a villain was so quick). In fact it seems the police in the film didn’t feel he was a real threat either, as they were more interested in capturing Spider-man that they were the giant lizard that was wrecking havoc on the city. The action scenes in general were quite weak, with gaping plot holes (how did he get up their so quickly) and a lack of tension. On the other hand, the first-person point-of-view action shots were fantastic – I loved seeing New York from the perspective of Spider-man swinging through the streets. The 3D was actually quite fun during these moments, but otherwise it was pointless – there was a 30 minute chunk in the first half where I took my 3D glasses off completely!
Overall The Amazing Spider-man was a mixed bag. A great lead performance from Garfield and interesting character development in the first half, was let down by flat action, an unconvincing villain and far too much story-padding (the film is 136 minutes long!!) in the second half. It’s worth seeing for Garfield’s Peter Parker alone, but I’m not sure I’ll be along for the next instalment.
Director: Marc Webb
Screenplay: Steve Kloves, Alvin Sargent, James Vanderbilt
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen
Runtime: 136 minutes
Release date(s): USA: July 3 2012; Australia & New Zealand: July 4 2012