The sun beat down onto me. My head was becoming clouded, I had just had a strange incident in the Levi’s Store which involved yelling and walking into an occupied change room. Maybe the heat wave that clenched Manhattan in its humid fist was getting to me. I needed a break, a couple of hours out.
I found myself in the cinema for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ and sat down in the comfortable American seats that always shift an unexpected distance back when you put your weight in them. American cinemas should be appreciated, they can be old and aesthetically clunky but they are comfortable.
The film, on this occasion, matched the aesthetic clunkiness with story clunkiness. Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) essentially kills himself when he jumps on a gun that a thief accidentally dropped. Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) doesn’t have a single bad bone in his body until he becomes The Lizard. Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) only really has one opportunity to save a person, a boy in car falling from a bridge.
It has only been ten years since the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man but apparently tastes in cinema have shifted fundamentally, and in a depressing way. Some of my friends claimed they never liked the Raimi films anyway, but what is missing in Marc Webb’s effort draws attention to their strengths. Raimi imbued his first two Spider-Man films with themes, the line between good and bad were blurred to the point of almost being non-existent, the characters struggled their way through.
The only mistake Raimi made was his casting of the two leads of his films, his touch was with the villains. Marc Webb has made up for that. Andrew Garfield is instantly more likable than Tobey Maguire. Emma Stone is much more charming as Gwen Stacey than Kirsten Dunst ever was as Mary Jane.
Still, I couldn’t get past the clunkiness of the film and it wasn’t a comfortable clunkiness either. The sequel set-up at the end felt more tacked on then most. It didn’t even commit itself to a particular villain for the sequel in the way that ‘Batman Begins’ did.
I left the film feeling even more cloudy than I when I went in.