For a film with a trailer that claims to ”reveal the origins and secrets” of a well-worn character The Amazing Spiderman doesn’t seem to shed light on anything new. It thankfully avoids huge amounts of initial exposition as it grants the audience some credit in knowing who Spidey is and how he quickly came to be but in its entirety the film still manages to feel like one big gateway for another franchise. But for a 2 and a half hour set up it hints at virtually nothing to anticipate accept perhaps more of the same.
The casting of the 2 young leads was potentially inspired but amidst the stereotypical high school syrup an overwhelming feeling of waste clouds scenes. Couple that with Garfield nearing 30 it unfortunately adds to the hurdles halting necessary suspension of disbelief, this also poses more issues for sequels less the makers get a move on or bust out the Botox. As for the portrayals; Garfield’s Parker is all sleeves and self-pity, goes a bit Woody Allen around girls and takes to his new found super prowess quickly thanks to his skateboarding ability, a gimmick that seems a sorely dated nowadays. There are elements present for a fresher take on a superhero but are roundly dashed in favour of formula and holding back heavily on personality.
Emma Stone’s Gwen is likeable but lacks bite, sure she can drop the odd bit of sarcasm coupled with a knowing raised eyebrow but overall still is used more as a prim incentive rather than fully utilized as the smart and assured young woman that she can so effortlessly play. Ifans is pretty meekly forgettable as Dr.Curt Connors as is his alter-ego ‘The Lizard’, the Jekyll and Hyde style villain proving ineffective in aggression and motive. Pitting rookie Spiderman against a less formidable opponent might make sense on paper but on screen winds up with soft fight scenes and diluted investment in caring who actually wins. The supporting cast do just that in a cardboard cutout sort of way, but with someone of caliber like Martin Sheen briefly on hand it is evident they are simply working with what they’ve been given; a healthy pay cheque and little else.
As far as being darker it appears only the post production grading has moved in that direction, this is still safe as houses fluff, albeit with the occasional skeptical expression and angst-pained cry. Basically exactly what you’d expect from the director of 500 Days of Summer tackling a slightly awkward comic book hero. The hints at a more Nolan turn in this version dissolve on its opening, if you had managed to not gather that from the absurdly revealing trailers. Nothing is left to be surprised by, even Prometheus with its incessant and bludgeoning attempt to whet ones appetite managed to hold something’s back (although they arguably mostly kept the lid on the film’s strange script dementia), in the Spiderman trailers you get every set piece and practically the whole narrative. The FX are glossy and no doubt a step up from previous efforts, but that’s just technological advancement and it’s hardly the leap between watching different incarnations of Superman fly which were each separated by decades so notably varied, this is the same stunts in the same multiplexes a mere 5 years later. The 3D is little to no help, providing an oddly flat and rushed sheen to the action, so when said action is this predicted only originality on hand could save. Bogged down by a serious lack of excitement and devoid of any adrenaline or balls the film rests solely on its laurels, otherwise known as its brand. And that’s it, saccharine, slight and super bland; Sony, Marc Webb and a whole fist full of writers manage to achieve a completely unprogressive piece of fantasy.