THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Early Overseas Reviews Mostly Positive

     June 20, 2012

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Early reviews are in for the overseas release of The Amazing Spider-Man and so far they are generally positive.  The common theme seems to be broad support for Andrew Garfield’s performance as Peter Parker, lending a nervier version to the highschooler than Tobey Maguire’s character.  Reviewers also praised Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary and, to an extent, Rhys Ifans for their performances, but decried the narrative for being a bit thin and lacking dimension.  Interestingly, The Amazing Spider-Man is coming across as more of a romantic drama with action elements than an action movie with a love interest thrown in; this observation was taken to the extreme with one reviewer calling it, “the superhero film for the Twilight generation.”  Hit the jump for much more from the early reviews.

As the following contains reviews of a movie that isn’t out domestically, there are obviously SPOILERS ahead. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s break down The Amazing Spider-Man by key points and see what worked (and in one case, didn’t work) for the early reviewers.  First up is the overall score:

Total Film (4/5) – It iamazing-spider-man-reviewssn’t perfect but this reboot’s wins outweigh its wobbles. The leads charm, the action crackles and the grooves are well-laid for part two. Untold story? Next time, then.

Static Mass Emporium (4/5) – Despite what I see as oversights in the film’s narrative, The Amazing Spider-Man is an exciting adventure that spins together a great cast and amazing special effects.

The Guardian (4/5) – Marc Webb’s successful synthesis of action and emotion, together with a terrific performance by Andrew Garfield, means that this Spider-Man is as enjoyable as it is impressive.

Telegraph (4/5) – Though it still packs plenty of testosterone, Marc Webb’s new Spider-Man is the superhero film for the Twilight generation.

Time Out London (4/5) – The Amazing Spider-Man is light on its feet and feels both intimate and expansive, smoothly making the transition from hanging out in school corridors to hanging off the sides of buildings.

SFX (4/5) – The Amazing Spider-Man more than succeeds. It may not have the non-stop action and spectacle of Avengers Assemble, but it does have characters you can fall in love with, and bags of charm. You feel the series is in safe hands with Webb, Garfield and Stone. And in an extra scene in the end credits, it also delivers an enticing cliffhanger that should definitely leave you wanting more…

London Evening Standard (2/5) – Webb’s film is slow on plot, skimpy on character development…Webb saves up most of the emotional punch for a downbeat, wet-eyed ending in which Garfield and Stone are superb.

Now, let’s talk Garfield for a second as he was clearly the highlight of the film for many a reviewer:

A young buckamazing-spider-man-review made testy by grief, a rebel without a comb, Garfield nails all bases here, star DNA aglow. Stare-y eyes melting, he’s winningly earnest; lithe of physique, he delivers in the dust-ups; blithely gatecrashing Gwen Stacy’s bedroom, he gives good dreamboat. (Total Film)

Webb is aided by a terrific performance from Andrew Garfield, who brings a genial unflappability that allows him to negotiate the often-ludicrous demands of the superhero plotline. (Guardian)

Garfield gets the best lines and is a comic, often slapstick, presence for much of the movie as he learns how to cope with his new powers. (Time Out London)

Andrew Garfield is brilliant. Whether his slightly less nerdy, but slightly more nervy Peter Parker is better than Tobey Maguire’s is debatable, but his Spider-Man is magnificent. He quips away like he does in the comics, and even from behind the mask he makes the humour work. (SFX)

Stone received equally good marks, but reviewers were quick to point out that she had less to work with, narratively speaking.  On the ambivalent side of the reactions was director Marc Webb, who was, in equal parts, praised and questioned for his handling of the material:

Swinging amazing-spider-man-reviewfrom fresh to faithful-to-source, Marc Webb’s reboot is a sparky, well-cast, often punchy Spidey spin… but it’s also Spider-Man Begins Again, struggling in places to assert its own identity…Webb finds much surer footing as Parker hits high school, helped by crack casting. (Total Film)

Webb successfully treads a fine line between keeping the hardcore superhero-movie fans happy and injecting a dose of meaningful affect…At the same time, Webb also shows an unarguable facility for the more traditional action elements of the story, and the 3D certainly helps: he pulls off some properly nauseating shots as Parker dives off skyscrapers, rescues kids from falling, and the like. (Guardian)

Webb offers no radical rethink about how to craft a comic-book summer movie, but still he delivers a enjoyable rush over a patchwork of genres – romance, action, sci-fi, horror and comedy (there’s almost one for every leg of a spider) – while avoiding bumps at the joins. The action sequences are gripping and have a bouncy, parkour-style giddiness to them. (Time Out London)

[Webb]…dispenses with much of the character and sass that always made this character fun. It’s not Garfield’s fault: he is a convincingly troubled, inarticulate Peter Parker, a springily athletic Spider-Man, and has awesome hair. His greatest enemy is the script. That, and the rather wearisome 3D. (London Evening Standard)

Aside from character performances and narrative issues, The Amazing Spider-Man relies heavily on 3D effects and CGI elements to carry the story forward.  Here’s a look at what the early reviews thought of the tech:

It’s the amazing-spider-man-reviewsuccessful synthesis of the two – action and emotion – that means this Spider-Man is as enjoyable as it is impressive: Webb’s control of mood and texture is near faultless as his film switches from teenage sulks to exhilarating airborne pyrotechnics. It’s only towards the end, when there is no choice but to revert to CGI – as Rhys Ifans’ Lizard goes on the rampage – that The Amazing Spider-Man gets a little less amazing. (Guardian)

…the film’s second half offers more than enough bungee-swinging through Manhattan’s concrete canyons, immaculately rendered in vertiginous, silky-smooth 3D, to satisfy thrill-seekers of either sex. What’s refreshing is how Webb makes those action sequences count: with a plot that rests almost entirely on the romance between his two leads. (Telegraph)

The “RealD 3D” is fine for the flying sequences, confusing in the fights, and gives that awful cardboard-cutout look to narrative scenes. (London Evening Standard)

Rhys Ifans is fine as Curt Connors, and does his best as The Lizard, but there‘s nothing special about him as an opponent. He’s not even a particularly well-visualised villain, blandly designed and often falling foul of some of the film’s less convincing CG. It’s a real shame that with so much invention going into the rest of this movie makeover the villain feels so off-the-shelf. (SFX)

So there you have it, some trendsamazing-spider-man-review to look for as more reviews come online before The Amazing Spider-Man opens domestically on July 3rd.  Below, you can check out some fan reactions to seeing the film, via Twitter:

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