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The Amazing Spider-man

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by Stefan Sgarioto (subscribe)
Film Fanatic. Film Critic. Video Store Clerk. Media and Communications Student currently completing an honours year. Follow Me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Stefan_Sgarioto
Published July 8th 2012


If there's anything to learn from the reboot of Marvel's favourite poster-boy, is that rebooting a popular franchise is actually quite easy. Even if it's one that has only been around for 10 years (Raimi's first Spider-man was released in 2002). From its inception, or rather, the first trailer, audience members were teased at the notion of learning 'the untold story' of the web-slinging hero. How does that even work? What didn't they tell us in the original film? It's almost an insult, having a film trilogy (a rather good one at that) still quite fresh in our minds, being torn apart and started anew. After Raimi had backed down from the production of Spider-man 4, Sony decided it was best to reboot it, focusing on a teenage Peter Parker.

So whether audience members liked it or not, they were getting a new Spider-man, and with that, Tobey Maguire hangs up the skin-hugging red and blue suit for the last time. Enter Andrew Garfield, who weirdly passes for a high school student, despite being 28. Not only that, we have Emma Stone playing love interest Gwen Stacey, who replaces the popular red-haired Mary Jane Watson (played in the original trilogy by Kirsten Dunst). Aunt May and Uncle Ben (Sally Field & Martin Sheen) are just where we left them, just as morally righteous and kind-hearted, if not a little more worn down. What we're promised in regards to the 'untold story', are hints at the back story of Peter's parents who mysteriously disappear when Peter is a child. It's something of which is never fully explored or answered, but is simply hinted at throughout the film. Unlike Raimi's Spider-man, Webb emphasizes Parker as more of an outsider, He's still got the smarts, he just doesn't have the support of the friends such as Harry (James Franco).

What we find throughout 'The Amazing Spider-man' are subtle differences to the original film. One of the major differences however is the use of mechanical web-shooters as opposed to the organic ones made popular in Raimi's trilogy. After getting bitten by the spider, Parker shows off his science-nerd skills and creates little wrist gadgets that shoots out synthetic web. While being true to the original material, it also makes Spider-man a little less 'amazing' and a hell of a lot more vulnerable. While he still has the speed, strength, durability and those sticky fingers we know and love, the added risk of mechanical failure means we're more drawn to his limitations; something which is played out in the final act. It's a risky move, but it works well in the creation of suspense.

Despite the difference in the actual villain, the formula remains the same, with Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin traded for Rhys Ifans' the Lizard. There's still a sense of familiarity however, with Dr. Curt Connors, a brilliant scientist being corrupted by power. Much like the majority of the movie, it does have that feeling of "been there, done that".

Despite the overwhelming similarities between the two, what does work well is Webb's influence in creating strong, conflicted characters. The relationship between Parker and Stacey oozes with cuteness and feels quite natural, albeit a lot more awkward; which seems fitting for teenagers. Garfield seems more adept at being an outsider Peter Parker; equipped with his camera, awkwardness and random twitches (as opposed to Maguire's increasing self-confidence).

Webb also handles the action scenes particularly well, considering his only other film has been the incredibly cute (500) Days of Summer. For the most part, the action scenes move rather smoothly, with the major fight scenes between Spider-man and Lizard being more brutal and less animated than the previous trilogy. These scenes emphasize once again, that Spider-man has become less 'amazing' and a lot more human. The first-person camera, particularly when swinging through New York, while cool, was quite distracting.

While this rebooted franchise is still able to entertain, the fact that it came within 5 years after the third film means it's impossible not to compare it. It's also rather difficult because Raimi did a fantastic job with the original Spider-man trilogy, despite the third film's major shortcomings. It's a shame because if it had come out a couple of years later, it wouldn't have been a problem. Despite this, it is indeed an entertaining film, despite not exactly giving us the untold story it originally promised. Webb manages to pull off giving Spider-man a darker and edgier feel, and Garfield and Stone pull off giving us a romance worth remembering. With Sony preparing for a new trilogy, one can hope for some originality to take Spider-man to new uncharted heights, and perhaps then, can he become 'amazing'.
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