“The untold story begins.”
Again, as I mentioned before on my review for Brave—this is a story analysis website, likely to contain spoilers... if you haven’t seen the film yet, proceed with caution. Or better yet, just go see the film! :)
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I have to say, there are a few really nice accomplishments to behold in The Amazing Spider-Man. But before I get to those, I’d probably better explain my (apparently) unorthodox method of approaching films. Several critics have bashed it quite thoroughly on the premise that it is an unnecessary reboot. In a way, they have a point. The original trilogy only ended 5 years ago. That being said, I would still like to approach this (along with everything else I review) as a stand-alone film. This both helps it and hurts it.
I’ll explain why in a moment, but first, a word or two of praise: I really enjoyed the new take on these characters. Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy were, in fact, scientists. Therefore, they should be intelligent. Thankfully, that is exactly how they were portrayed. Intelligently written characters are a thrill to watch, because they do two things for us as an audience: not only do we feel we’re being treated with respect, but we are also spared (for the most part) from pointless melodrama. They can just figure things out.
As far as the technical aspects of The Amazing Spider-Man are concerned, they might not be perfect... but for goodness’ sake, I could tell what was going on. This is such a rare attribute for an action movie these days that I feel it must be praised whenever humanly possible. Frenetic camera movement and quick cuts do not make for good storytelling—if anything, they work to provide the audience with an acute sense of motion sickness. Such was not the case here. For that, I praise what technical it has.
Alas, there was a thing or two wrong with its story. Not horribly wrong, per se, but enough to miss the mark of greatness. I refer to the film’s theme, specifically in relation to Peter Parker’s character arc. The film’s theme seemed to be that we should strive to be good, especially when we are powerful. Parker’s flaw might then be that he doesn’t think he is good. This was actually touched on in the film, but just never really clarified. There was even a relationship in place to accomplish this, but it was very weak.
I mentioned before that judging this as a stand-alone film would both help it and hurt it... well, this is where it hurts it: subplots. A film may not have to resolve all of its subplots (although it’s usually much better when it does), but it should at least resolve the major ones. Most of the primary subplots in The Amazing Spider-Man go unresolved. They were probably leaving them open for the sequels, but as an audience, we emotionally invest ourselves in these events. We need some kind of equivalent return.
So how might one go about solving the bigger issues of theme and character arc? As I mentioned before, a relationship was in place to do it—that of the conflict between Peter Parker and Captain Stacy (Gwen’s father). Their evolving relationship, centered on the different forms of good, would have allowed for a much more visible character arc from Parker; and subsequently, a much more powerful theme. After all, what Parker really needed to hear was that he was good—from a person who didn’t already love him for who he was. Such affirmation could have been exactly what he needed to overcome the villain.
It was very fun to watch, but without a clearer story arc, it wasn’t as amazing as it could have been.