Movie: The Amazing Spiderman (2012)

After several incredibly loud trailers (seriously WTF, I know I’m in my 30s now, but I’m not deaf), I sat down to watch a rather unexpected reboot of the superhero franchise that really kicked off the last decade’s dizzying array of superhero movies. Of course the 2002 Spiderman wasn’t the first big superhero movi. Superman is an obvious milestone, as were Batman and X-Men. But somehow the 2002 Spiderman felt like the one that really kicked off the latest chapter.

Either way, it seemed strange to see a reboot so shortly after the original franchise left off in 2007. Spiderman 3 was bloated, and perhaps mis-handled in some aspects, but it wasn’t a terrible movie, and it certainly was a successful one, clocking in at nearly $900M to make it the biggest grosser of the trilogy.

Whatever the reason, here we are, ready to go through the origin story again with a fresh-faced Peter, handsomely played by British actor Andrew Garfield. He’s probably best known on the big screen for “The Social Network”, and a load of TV work in the UK that I never got around to seeing. 28-year-old Andrew plays high-school student Peter Parker (…), an adorkably different character to Tobey Maguire’s rendition. The always-amazing Emma Stone is as striking as ever, as love interest Gwen Stacey (can a comic nerd explain where Mary Jane is?).

Oscar-winning Sally Field is sparingly used as Aunt May, trying to display as many emotions as she can. Most of these are sad-eyed gurning, or tearful disappointment, but she does her bit well. Not sure they they just ditch her for the middle of the movie, after what happened… Martin Sheen does well as Uncle Ben, but he too gets little time to display his talents.

The movie tries to accomplish a lot, with twin story strands covering Spiderman’s creation and motivation, with Rhys Ifans’ Jeykll & Hyde character The Lizard forming the main threat. The latter story is pulled off in the traditional superhero style, with a fair bit of melodrama thrown in. But The Lizard is a suitably scary baddy, and you never quite know how powerful he is.

Garfield’s Spiderman is an odd one, he seems rather twitchy, like there is some underlying mental issue. I’m not sure that’s what was intended, but he has a good balance of teen recklessness and doe-eyed vulnerability (sigh). Also that Spandex was quite something… I don’t think I ever felt that way about Tobey Maguire. He has such nice hair too.

Special mention to the sphincter-clenchingly corny scene with the crane workers though. The film had done pretty well up until that point, but then the blue-collar workers of that amazing city of NYC pulled off that ridiculous maneouvre. In the middle of a city-wide evacuation (PS wouldn’t a better idea to be get people to stay inside? Isn’t that what they normally advise?). And why? Because… because… AMERICAAA!!! U-S-A! U-S-A! I rolled my eyes so much, I’m surprised I can’t see upside-down now.

All in all, it was a standard issue great superhero movie. But a nagging voice in my mind was telling me that it didn’t really feel like a reboot at all. While I am happy to watch a big franchise not go down the old “dark reboot”, it made me wonder what they really changed. Of course the SFX improve every year, but is that really enough? Tastes change, and I’m sure it did enough for me to prefer the 2012 version over the 2002 version, but it does make me wonder.

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