Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (and Is It Different Enough From the 2002 Version)

Well I got my money’s-worth with my Unlimited Cinema ticket in June didn’t I? Not one sodding film was worth going to see over the course of the entire month.

But now we’re into the official ‘Summer Blockbuster’ Season, and that starts off with The Amazing Spider-Man

What’s This Film About?

It’s a retelling of the origins of Spider-Man. I assume you know the basic story, and if you don’t, I’m not really sure why you’re reading this review…

Thoughts – Have We Not Been Here Before?

The big worry for me – and I’m sure everyone else – going into this film was whether or not it would be pretty much the same film as the brilliant Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst effort from 2002. Thankfully, the answer to that was no.

Ok, there is the same skeleton structure of the weak schoolboy with an interest in photography – Peter Parker – who gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gains superpowers. And its also got the bit where he indirectly causes his Uncle Ben to be killed by a burglar, as well as the thread in the story where he gets the idea for the mask and costume thanks to wrestling, but beyond that it’s a different film.

I’d heard it was ‘darker’ in the same way as the newer Batman films are considered more grim than the originals, but I don’t necessarily agree with that at all. It was just a different take on things, although perhaps a take that is slightly more adult and serious. But that doesn’t mean ‘darker’.

In this version, instead of Mary-Jane being the female lead, it’s Gwen Stacey (which is actually more accurate because Stacey appeared in the comics long before Mary-Jane), instead of J. Jonah Jameson leading the charge against Spider-Man, it’s Chief of Police (who also happens to be Stacey’s father), and instead of The Green Goblin, it’s The Lizard (who, again to be fair, appeared in the comics first).

There are other little things too like the circumstances surrounding how he was bitten by a spider and how he came to get his projectile webs, and so what we’ve ended up with is a markedly different film to the one from 10 years ago.

So What Have We Got?

Thankfully, despite those differences, The Amazing Spiderman is still a good film.

Certainly Andrew Garfield – who I was surprised to find out is actually English – is a better actor than Tobey Maguire and the rest of the supporting cast is probably better too (it has Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, so that’s likely to be an improvement by default). And while in the 2002 Spider-Man film, the character of J. Jonah Jameson was played well, it was still a bit corny, and perhaps anachronistic. In the modern world in which we live – and in which this film is set – the idea of Spider-man only getting captured on film by one single photographer just doesn’t work, and it doesn’t follow either that JJJ would be so against him either. A police chief not being too keen on him is a different matter entirely.

Essentially, as a story, it flows nicely and is a bit more ‘realistic’ – in terms of the science behind both Spider-Man and the Lizard – than the previous one; although considering it’s a film about a comic book superhero, I’m not sure that’s all that important.

If I was to have a problem with it, it would be that it suffers from the same issues that I’m beginning to find a helluva lot of 3D films are suffering from; that being that three-quarters of the way through, the film stops advancing as a plot and just becomes a CGI special effects festival for the last part.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as bad for it as some films I’ve seen – like The Avengers from earlier this year – but the action sequences still went on a little bit too long for my liking.

I suppose as well another issue would be that if I hadn’t known about Spider-Man and his origins going in, I might find the leap from him being bitten by a spider to becoming Spider-Man a little bit much. It’s difficult to know how much the film explains it clearly and how much I filled in the blanks myself considering I know the story so well. But I did note that it maybe relied upon the audience knowing the story in advance a little bit beforehand. I guess I’d have to ask someone who’d never seen or heard of Spider-Man before what they thought, to be sure.

Oh, and one other thing; there’s no way a school girl would find herself in a position of such power within a science facility like Gwen Stacey did, but that’s a minor issue.

Should You Go And See The Amazing Spider-Man?

The origin of Spider-Man is a classic story, and so as long as they stuck to that, this was always going to be a good film. And it was; despite some of the problems I’ve outlined above it was great.

It mostly flowed well, it was well acted, it had a strong plot and crucially it was different to the 2002 version.

So even if you’ve seen that version go to this one and enjoy it, but be prepared for the action to take over a little bit much towards the end.

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One Response to Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (and Is It Different Enough From the 2002 Version)

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