Batman, Spider-Man, Wolverine… Ask a random person on the street and I’m sure they could name at least three comic book characters if you asked them to.
Comic book adaptations are big business at the moment. They have well and truly taken over the big screen, and it seems as if a new one is released every few months. In 2011, we had X-Men: First Class (Marvel), Thor (Marvel) and Green Lantern (DC Comics). Of those three, the biggest earner was X-Men: First Class, which took $55,101,604 in its opening weekend. It would go on to have a worldwide lifetime gross of $353,624,124, doubling its production budget of $160 million.
So far in 2012 the following have been released: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Marvel), The Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel) and Avengers Assemble (Marvel). The Dark Knight Rises (DC Comics), the final film in Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy, will be released shortly. Scheduled for release in 2013 are Man of Steel (DC Comics), Iron Man 3 (Marvel), Thor 2 (Marvel), Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Dark Horse Comics) and The Wolverine (Marvel).
Last week, Ruth at Flix Chatter started her review of The Amazing Spider-Man by asking whether the film was necessary. She ended her discussion by saying: “I feel that once I enter the theatre to see this particular film, I should judge it on its own merit.”
I completely agree with her.
When I first heard that the series was going to be rebooted I thought how soon it was, the final film with Tobey Maguire in the blue and red spandex only being released in 2007. If you look at the other two most well known superheroes – Batman and Superman – Nolan revisited Batman in 2005, nearly 10 years after 1997’s Batman & Robin. However, Superman Returns, starring Brandon Routh as the caped crusader, was released in 2006 and so it may seem quite soon that Man of Steel should be released. That was just a one-off film, though, unlike Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy.
I remained neutral to the idea towards Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man for some time. To be honest, even when it was released a few weeks ago I still wasn’t that excited.
The turning point really came when I watched Andrew Garfield, the new Spider-Man, in Never Let Me Go for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I’ve never watched The Social Network (it really did not appeal to me at its time of release but due to the response it got I wouldn’t say no to watching it if the opportunity came up – so was unfamiliar with Garfield’s work.
I was really impressed with Garfield in Never Let Me Go plus his co-stars’ performances, Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan, too. For this reason, when my boyfriend suggested we see The Amazing Spider-Man I agreed.
Seeing as I hadn’t been counting down the days until this film’s release, I didn’t go in with any particular expectations. I don’t know Spider-Man’s background that well either – I’m more of an X-Men kind-of girl. Based on his performance in Never Let Me Go I was hoping that Garfield’s acting wouldn’t disappoint me, though.
Bearing all of the above in mind, I really, really enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man.
Garfield added a more realistic element to the unpopular, shy Peter Parker, something that was more portrayed in a much more OTT way in Maguire’s Parker. From what I’ve seen of Garfield in interviews and on the red carpet it seems much more likely that he would have been a hoody-wearing, skateboard-using kind-of kid than Maguire would have been. Visually, he suited the role and the style of the film very well.
Emma Stone was also very enjoyable as Gwen Stacy, a very clever girl who quickly becomes the object of Parker’s affection. Stone is certainly becoming hot property and, as in many of her other roles, she is very likeable and puts in a good performance. She certainly made a better Gwen that Bryce Dallas Howard did in Spider-Man 3, with the relationship between Garfield and Stone being much more believable than Maguire and Howard.
Moving on to the plot, while there are, naturally, a lot of elements that were included in 2002’s Spider-Man, they were filmed in a way that still made them interesting. There are, of course, only so many ways that the same origin points can be told – the disappearance of his parents, the discovery of his powers etc – but I was far from bored watching how they would be portrayed in this adaptation.
While the primary antagonist in 2002’s Spider-Man was Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, it is Dr Curt Connors/The Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man. In my opinion, the inclusion of Dr Connors, portrayed by Rhys Ifans, was an excellent choice. Though he mentioned and seen in Raimi’s trilogy, he does not become The Lizard. This left the door wide open for Webb and his team to develop The Lizard as they saw fit.
Though his accent seemed to falter at certain points, Ifans put in a strong performance as Dr Connors. However, I wasn’t that impressed with The Lizard, though I do admit to jumping at one point when he exploded onto the screen! I was only watching it in 2D as well. Bearing in the mind the visual effects available today, I found The Lizard distinctly fake looking.
In summary, if you’re a fan of the arachnid hero or of comic book adaptations in general, The Amazing Spider-Man is well worth a look. Whether a second film will be released remains to be seen, but on the strength of this film I would definitely watch it. Without a shadow of a doubt, the star of the show is Garfield, though a strong script backs him up. I can’t remember how many times exactly but I was close to tears on more than one occasion.
As far as I can remember, this was not the case with the Raimi trilogy. They may have fallen during Spider-Man 3, though that would have been for a completely different reason altogether..!