It has been only five years since Sam Raimi completed his Spider-Man trilogy and now Marc Webb brings us a new origin to the story and a rebooted Spider-Man this time played by Andrew Garfield. It is inevitable in this era of studio domination that hot properties such as Spider-Man will be rebooted on a regular basis so it is important that each new attempt brings something different, so what has Webb done to bring a fresh feel to the Spider-Man franchise?
Well, not too much, the action and origin remains mainly the same what Webb does is focus on the characters rather than the wider impact the story has on New York. He has stripped out his Spider-Man focusing on the key protagonists, Peter Parker, Uncle Ben and Aunt May and replacing Mary-Jane from Raimi’s trilogy with Gwen Stacy as the romantic interest. Webb also decides to put more focus on the death of Parker’s parents, a device that allows the antagonist Dr. Curt Connors to be introduced.
By reducing the number of characters Webb is able to focus more on the emotions of his characters and their development and this is obvious in his casting. Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker is a talented and well-regarded actor and he brings a more complete and precise representation than Tobey Maguire did previously, his emotions are raw and deep and he is able to handle the peaks and troughs of Parker’s story with style. Similarly with Emma Stone, Webb brings a capable actress into a key role. His decision to use Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Sally Field as Aunt May show a similar desire to use well-regarded performers but the casting here is not as strong, Sheen is too big, too worldly and too smug to pull the necessary impact on his inevitable demise and Field seems to have given up on performing and just appears and looks withered in most appearances she now makes.
There is a problem with the rebooting of Spider-Man, due to his root in the supernatural it is not possible to perform a Nolan-esque real world reboot and due to the colourful styling and mythical nature of the villains it means that film-makers are tied to a style and a way of presenting the material. Here the villain is The Lizard, a mutation of Curt Connors who wishes to re-grow his lost limb through using lizard DNA. The CGI lets the lizard down and undoes a lot of the work Rhys Ifans does is setting up a strong back story and character. The villain is never truly villainous and Webb sets him up only as a foe to be defeated not as a genuine threat.
Overall the film is satisfying but nothing more. The use of 3D has a role to play in this movie but again Webb does not fully exploit it. He gives Spider-Man weight in his traversing of the city and uses the stereoscopic effect in these sequences but misses some tricks that would have made a stronger impact. The almost non-existent use of 3D in other scenes show that the director may not have been overly happy with using this effect.
It is a strong decision to go for a more character lead approach for Spider-Man but unfortunately The Amazing Spider-Man does not distance itself enough from the original trilogy to make it a significant challenge, having said that I am sure further films will follow before Sony decide to reboot the franchise again.
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- Marc Webb Still in the Running to Direct ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2′? (screenrant.com)