Make your spider sense tingle with The Amazing Spider-Man

Published: July 9, 2012
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The film has some massive flaws and most of them lie in the narrative structure. PHOTO: REUTERS

When I first read about the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise, I was immediately sceptical about it and rightfully so. It felt like just another Hollywood gimmick to cash in on the character after the dismal Spider-Man 3 of 2007 tainted the trilogy with its embarrassing mark. 

But when the news got around that Marc Webb would be directing the new franchise and that he was to take a much more serious approach towards it, my anticipation started growing for the film.

Sure, Marc Webb displayed his talents in the quirky comedy 500 days of Summer (2009) but the question was,

Can he direct a superhero flick?

But why a reboot? What was wrong with Sam Rami’s version of Spider-Man?

If I am really honest then I never found any of the earlier Spider-Man films to be all that appealing. They might have been entertaining but were cluttered with cheesy dialogues, and over the top villains. Worst of all, Tobey Maguire (the lead who played Spider-Man earlier) was neither convincing as the nerdy Peter Parker nor as the superhero he was portraying.

I don’t think Sami Rami ever understood the essence of Spider-Man and what made him so appealing to the teenage demographic in the first place. So, I was kind of glad to see a new Spider-Man film with a bit more seriousness injected into the characters which were very well developed.

The question is, will this film make your Spider sense tingle or will it be just another fizzle in the web shooter?

The story begins with an introductory screenplay of young Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), a high school teen who has been brought up by his beloved Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) in the city of New York. Even though his social awkwardness makes him quite an unpopular kid in High School, he manages to attract the attention of the gorgeous Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

During his visit to OsCorp, he gets bitten by a genetically modified spider, which ends up giving him the strength and agility of a spider. Unfortunately, while Peter gains superhero powers,  Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) also injects himself with a similar serum in hopes to grow his missing limb, but instead, transforms into the hideous Lizard. It is up to Spidey now to save the day and keep his secret identity intact.

The film has some massive flaws and most of them lie in the narrative structure. The original story seemed incredibly constrained and brought almost no character development to the overall story. For some odd reason, the filmmaker decided to visually portray the death of Uncle Ben this time around, which left no room for imagination for the viewers.

So why change something that was already perfect?

This version never allowed Peter to develop the selfishness surrounding his newly inherited super powers and the death of Uncle Ben seemed a bit feckless. But even with the lacklustre first act, the second act of the film was surprisingly much stronger and entertaining. It managed to redeem itself in time.

Another problem with the film was the main villain. Even if Dr Curt Connors could be considered as a ‘like-able’ character, the Lizard as the sole villain could not carry the film too far long on its own.

He never came across as threatening or diabolical as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2 (2004), Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) or even Loki from the Avengers (2012) for that matter. Due to the elimination of the villain’s wife and son in the movie – which were a part of the comics – we never really developed any real sympathy for him and he ended up being just another ‘Marvel stock villain’. Dr Curt Connor’s character could have really benefited from much more character development and screen time in my opinion.

The special effects, on the other hand, ranged from dazzlingly illusive to ridiculously unconvincing (I’m looking at you, mutated rat).

But what was different about Spider-Man this time around?

The main characters were considerably much more believable. Spider-Man was the wise cracking superhero that we all love from the comics. The web swinging through the skyscrapers of New York City was quite exhilarating to watch (and let us not forget web-shooters, yay!).

Conversely, the art direction seemed at odds with the tone of the film with almost all action sequences being shot at night. Even though the origin of the story touches upon issues of responsibility and death, Spider-Man is still a light-hearted character at the end of the day.

But most importantly, the good performances are where the characters deviate from the Sam Rami’s version in this film.

The romance between Peter and Gwen was heartfelt and touching. The viewers could easily immerse themselves into the action sequences between Spidey and the Lizard but at the same time, could also share an earnest moment between the two lovebirds.

The catharsis was so strong that the audience cheered when Peter outsmarted Flash in a Basketball game but also felt shy and awkward when Peter asked Gwen out for the first time. Essentially, this is the first time I felt that I was watching the real web swinging Spider-Man straight out of the comics.

Thankfully, this time around, the film is targeted more towards the teenage and the adult audience.

Even with its obvious flaws, the Amazing Spider-Man is a must watch for any Marvel comics fan. I strongly feel that Marc Webb was a smart choice to lead this franchise. He can easily overcome the shortcomings of this film and perhaps, bring the same level of ingenuity that the Avengers had in the next Spider-Man sequel.

 Read more by Jibran here. 

Jibran.Khan

Jibran Khan

An independent filmmaker who has worked on numerous short films and has taught Film Theory at Szabist University. Currently he is studying Media Arts and Design at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. Follow his Youtube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCwSdyPZ_htZng0Ec-2cmlgg

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Noman Ansari

    My review will be in ET Mag this Sunday. I agree with you for the most part. What a sweet and heartfelt movie. Loved it. :)

    Nice review. :) Recommend

  • S. Ditko

    How can anyone take this review seriously when you start off by saying Sam Raimi didn’t understand the essence of Spider-Man? That’s a ridiculous statement, especially considering how the lack of any character arcs in Marc Webb’s Spider-Man don’t seem to bother you at all.

    Garfield is an incredible actor, perhaps even too good to be in this movie, but his character never faces any redemption like Peter did in Raimi’s film. His character in TAS never learns responsibility, the death of his uncle barely affects his relationship with his grieving aunt, he goes on some obsessive hunt for his uncle’s killer and then just stops without any deep reason, and he breaks the promise he makes to a dying Captain Stacy at the end of the film.

    Compare that to the first Spider-Man film where Parker is propelled to becoming Spider-Man, not out of revenge, but out of the solmnity of his uncle’s advice about power and responsibility. When he realizes how him being Spider-Man affects the people around him, he decides he can’t get close to Mary Jane, a girl he’s pined for since he was a kid. It’s a perfect balance of power, responsibility, and the resulting choices. The Raimi movies have a universal appeal and a lighthearted essence that is very true to the character.

    TAS is a mess of a film with essential scenes about his origin being cut out in the last second in the editing room. Marc Webb proved that he can’t really handle a big budget summer action flick. Recommend

  • http://glenns-busy-corner.blogspot.com/ Glenn Ryall

    I really loved the movie though I quite agree on some flaws which you have pointed out, yet the movie kicked ass.

    The character of spider man was also fun, just how we come across in the comics. hope the sequel does is done up well. Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    What about Pakistani spiderman, I heard they did shoot some part of the movie in Karachi as well?Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Garfield is an incredible actor,
    perhaps even too good to be in this
    movie

    hahahah what the heck does that mean???? Recommend

  • Hakeem

    I liked the movie and that’s all I careRecommend