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The Amazing Spiderman

July 17, 2012
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Despite my reservations about re-booting such a recent franchise, I was quite intrigued by the trailers. The oddly deceptive trailers.

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If you saw Spiderman back in 2002, The Amazing Spiderman might seem quite familiar. There is a guy who does whatever a spider can. On more specific terms, we watch as Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield*) gets bitten by a radioactive spider, adjusts to his new-found superpowers, mourns the death of Uncle Ben and takes on the villain du jour. But The Amazing Spiderman is more than just a lazy copy of a previous film – it treads new ground as well. Mary-Jane is nowhere to be seen; instead, the love interest takes the exceedingly attractive shape of Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Furthermore, Spiderman is a bit of a techie in this film, using gadgets as much as his spidey-senses.

Plot-wise, after finding a briefcase belonging to his late father, Peter Parker seeks out his former colleague, Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) at Oscorp. While here, he gets the inevitable bite. With an equation of his father’s, he helps Connors in his research on cross-species genetics. Infusion of reptilian DNA allows their test mice to regrow limbs.

Later, after storming out after a fight with Uncle Ben, Parker finds him too late, right after being shot by a petty thug. Driven by revenge, he launches a vigilante search for the criminal responsible, gradually building his costume and kit as he does so. At the same time, pressured into starting human trials, Dr Connors secretly treats himself with reptile DNA (since he is an amputee). Miraculously, his arm grows back…before he transforms into the ten-foot tall Lizard. After a confrontation on the Williamsburg Bridge, Spiderman realises that he has to stop him. Meanwhile, Connors/Lizard grows schizophrenically fanatic about human/reptile DNA and plots to infect all of Manhattan with the stuff. Like the rest of New York, Spiderman takes a dim view of terrorism.

The acting is perfectly serviceable but is nothing spectacular. Andrew Garfield fills the screen with youthful charm and defiance and, as Spiderman, is incessantly humorous. Witty, wise-cracking and web-slinging. The 3D effects were as gurning as they usually are in films like this and, since I saw this film in 2D, entirely shameless.

However, I will praise the overall tone of the film. The actions and motivations of the characters felt incredibly organic, especially compared to Spiderman. Spiderman becomes the hero only fairly late in the film, after some personal revelations and realisations, for example. Furthermore, Lizard has a clear goal and works towards it, compared to the Green Goblin in Spiderman whose only motivation is apparently to be a dick.

Oddly, unless I passed out halfway through, scenes in the trailer were missing from the full film. It did nothing to detract from the film but it does seem a little like false advertising.

I originally wanted to say that this film was an enjoyable film to watch, with both heart and smarts. I’ve realised though that’s not quite true. Yes, this is a very enjoyable film, and it does strike a deeper emotional chord than previous Spiderman films. However, it is not a smart film. Instead, it is an average film with smarter than average characters. Perhaps because I’m so unused to seeing that I got confused. Or maybe that does make it a smart film, in a roundabout kind of way. Certainly, with so much in common with Spiderman, there was no room left for spoilers. Regardless, The Amazing Spiderman is a film that truly lives up to its name.

* – I’m quite sure it’s Andrew Garfield. I am continually conflating him with James Garfield, the 20th President of the United States. Nevertheless, I am certain that it’s Garfield, the cat that loves lasagne.

The Free Dictionary: Prepared for a given day: The soup du jour is cream of potato.

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