First of all, let the record show that I have not seen the Raimi Spider-Man film that came out in 2002, so I won’t be able to compare the two, and it also means that I go into this films with fairly fresh expectations although I do, like everyone else, know the origin of Spider-Man.
The Amazing Spider-Man tells that exact story, the origin of the eponymous webslinger, and I will say that, in spite of a handful of flaws, it does so rather well. It succeeds most admirably by focusing on the man (played excellently by Andrew Garfield) as much as it does on the mask, and the strength of his performance, as well as the one given by Emma Stone and Gwen Stacey, is the anchor that the film uses.
As well as the two leads, the cast includes Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors, and a particularly good Martin Sheen as the iconic Uncle Ben, who uses his natural charisma and presence and excellent comic timing (which truly shines with one liners like “nobody likes your meatloaf”) to craft a memorable performance with much less screen time than the other principle characters.
However, one thing that the film suffers from, particularly during the first hour, is incredibly poor pacing. Anyone that saw the trailers knows that it hints on one of the major plot points being the ‘mystery’ behind the disappearance of Peter’s parents. This, to put it bluntly, does not appear in the film, and it causes major issues in the first half and the prologue, as well as rendering some of the dialogue somewhat redundant.
Also, for a big budget film, the CGI is surprisingly average, especially for the villainous Lizard, who looks surprisingly underwhelming. This isn’t at all helped by having Ifans speak while playing him. I simply couldn’t take that seriously at all, which is a shame because The Lizard was an interesting chocie of villain, and with some better CGI could have been pulled off more effectively.
As I mentioned before, the leading performances are wonderful – Garfield captures the wisecracking wit of Peter Parker just as well as he does with his isolation and endearing awkwardness. Stone plays the love interest well, and with her natural talent manages to elevate Gwen Stacey to more than just a girl next door. This is where perhaps the best element of the film lies – in the romance at its core.
It’s not often that I praise romantic relationships in films – I think they’re rarely done well and fall prey to boring pitfalls, which this one, impressively didn’t. With their wonderful screen chemistry, you genuinely care for the two of them, both individually and as a pair, and the awkwardness of their encounters early on to the development of their relationships is utterly joyous to watch.
Other than a heavy handed score that has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and totally loses its effect, the film is technically executed to an incredibly high standard. This is particularly true of the cinematography, which creates stunning shots of New York, fluid camerawork for the entertaining action sequences to truly exhilarating point of view shots of Spider-Man webswinging across the city, as Garfield revels in the discovery of his characters powers.
Yes, it’s flawed, and the first half leaves rather a lot to be desired, but it’s a damn well made movie and it was thoroughly entertaining, helped in its weaker passages by excellent lead performances. From its adrenaline pumping action sequences to a heartfelt and surprisingly well executed romance, The Amazing Spider-Man is a thoroughly enjoyable film. But how it stacks up to the Raimi one is not for me to comment on.