Published Jul 03, 2012The reboot nobody asked for turns out to be exactly what the Spider-man franchise needed. A greenhorn, relative to previous series shepherd Sam Raimi, Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) doesn't have the distinct visual style of Raimi, but neither does he have a career-load of stylistic idiosyncrasies to colour the picture, regardless of thematic appropriateness.
What he does have is a keen sense of comedic timing via editing and a genuine knack for guiding his actors to reach for honest naturalism in their performances; it's a welcome change from the Sunday-morning-cartoon-come-alive vibe of Raimi's trilogy.
Much fuss has been made about the perceived Dark Knight-ifiying of the vibrant web-slinger, but other than a distinctly less flashy colour palette, The Amazing Spider-man's more mature tone has everything to do with making this iteration closer to science fiction than science fantasy, at no expense to humour, quite the opposite, in fact.
Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker is the brainy, smart-ass Spidey fans know, dishing sassy taunts to cops and criminals alike, not the demure, lovelorn, emotional simpleton Tobey Maguire was directed to play the wall-crawler as. Yes, this is another unnecessary origin story, but Webb and the writing team realize that and take great pains to tell the same major plot beats without revisiting situations or dialogue from Raimi's trifecta.
New information regarding the disappearance of Peter's parents doesn't feel particularly vital, but it does give practical backing to his genius-level intellect and dovetails nicely with the Dr. Connors/Lizard surrogate, paternal, mentorship-gone-monstrous angle.
One of many happy surprises, the Lizard graphics play much better on screen than in the stills, thus ameliorating a chief gripe of the fanboy set. As dynamic as the third-act action interplay is between Spidey and the limb-regenerating reptilian doctor (with the aid of solid, but not exceptional, 3D), The Amazing Spider-man's pulse beats strongest in the engaging romantic/comedic sparring between Emma Stone's delectable Gwen Stacey and Garfield's nuanced portrayal of Peter.
Less action-heavy than previous entries, but with greater focus on characters, embodied by actors dedicated to finding realism within the fantastic, this Spider-man marks the start of an excellent new trajectory for the loveable wall-crawler. Just, please, no more origins after this, okay? (Sony)