Wednesday, 4 July 2012
The Amazing Spider-Man
Pre-release hyperbole held that The Amazing Spider-Man would give us the real juice on Peter Parker. That we'd get to see a secret history fiction, lacking in the incredibly recent Sam Raimi films. Early trailers suggested an origin tied into a lightly abusive relationship with Parker Snr. Teenage Petey, nursing all manner of ego slights and abandonment issues, finds his father's totem object - a spiderweb spy kit. This was just about enough to get me interested in seeing another Spidey flick before the corpse of the Raimi calibration was even cold. Naturally, only fragments of this idea make it into the final film. Although this Parker's ability ascension is tied into his father's scientific tinkering, for the most part we're getting a room temperature, Coldplay scored, read through of the same origin we got in 2002.
In fairness, the condiments are slightly different. This Parker is flavoured with the kind of lingering rage issues that prompt him to dress up and bounce heads off asphalt. Here, the birth of the Spider-Man identity is dictated by the need to equalise the situation with Ben Parker's murderer - a corner shop stick-up artist. The macro altruism usually displayed by Peter Parker is boiled down to the dogged pursuit of one tattooed criminal. There's very little evidence that this Spider-Man is particularly interested in solving any crime that doesn't involve dirty blonde muggers. Again it seems like the film is heading somewhere interesting, Spider-Man becoming obsessive and violent to placate his festering guilt. Peter Parker as a spandex night prowler, endlessly beating street, and building psychosis. There's also something about a gangly teenage boy hopping around in a skin-tight body sock at midnight that just screams rapist. This nastiness coupled with Andrew Garfield's hyper-mobile, James Dean-ish take on Parker threatens to take the film into 3 Dev Adam territory. God help that mugger if Spidey ever catches up with him!
Except he never does, that thread is left to dangle, presumably for the next franchise instalment. Instead, our hero eventually butts heads with The Lizard, an enemy that Raimi painstakingly embedded in his films, but never delivered on. With a threat equal to Parker's new powers established, The Amazing Spider-Man settles into a routine back and forth, pitting the two super entities against each other in environments with ever-escalating potential for collateral damage. Rhys Ifans's bad uncle Curt Connors disappears into a CG action figure that wouldn't make the draft for Masters of the Universe, with downtime schizophrenia ticks borrowed / stolen from 2002's Green Goblin. Their endless battles do reveal a few nifty ideas - Spider-Man building a web to track his foe, and later scurrying all over the surface of Lizard's body whilst knitting him into a silk cocoon. Unfortunately these conceptual pops are few and far between. Pitched as a bold new take on existing material, The Amazing Spider-Man quickly settles into dull blockbuster machinations, and takes over two hours to see them to completion.