Australian Council on Children and the Media

Amazing Spider-Man, The

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Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 (Violence, Disturbing scenes, Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Amazing Spider-Man, The
  • a review of Amazing Spider-Man, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 10 July 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes.
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Amazing Spider-Man, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence
Length 136 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a teenager enrolled in Midtown Science High School. Since the death of his parents in a plane crash, Peter has been brought up by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Peter has a huge crush on classmate Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

 

Peter has a number of unanswered questions relating to his parents’ death, and while searching his uncle’s attic, discovers secret research files together with a photograph of his father’s partner Dr Curt Conner (Rhys Ifans) hidden in an old briefcase. The files and photograph lead Peter to the pharmaceutical company Oscorp.

After bluffing his way into the Oscorp building and a meeting with Dr Conner, Peter ends up in a laboratory filled with genetically modified spiders and is bitten. On the way home, Peter suddenly begins to developed spider-like superpowers - he is faster, stronger, more agile and able to climb walls like a spider. Peter begins to work onthese new-found powers, but tragedy strikes when Peter’s Uncle Ben is shot and killed by a thief.

Meanwhile back at Oscorp, Dr Conner, an amputee,has been busy making a serum which he hopes will enable the human body to heal itself of any illness and even regenerate new limbs. As a result of pressure from his employer to test his serum, Dr Conner injects himself and things quickly go wrong. Conner mutates into a giant Lizard-Man and goes on a rampage, causing mayhem and destruction through busy city streets.Peter/Spider-Man now risks all in a quest to stop the Lizard-Man.          

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Superpowers; genetic mutation; revenge

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The Amazing Spider-Man contains highly stylised superhero action violence (at times brutal), some depiction of blood and gore and some schoolyard bullying. Examples include: 

  • In a schoolyard scene an athletic looking teenage boy holds a smaller boy upside down over a table and rams the boy face-first into a plate of food. When Peter Parker intervenes, the bully attacks Peter, brutally punching him in the face and body several times and then kicking Peter in the stomach as he lies on the ground. 
  • Peter Parker humiliates a school bully in front of his classmates by taking a basketball away and refusing to give it back. Peter grabs the bully by the throat and lifts him up into the air, pinning him against a school locker. 
  • Peter’s Uncle Ben is shot while trying to stop a thief who is running away from the police. In an emotionally intense scene, Uncle Ben lies bleedingon the footpath with a distraught Peter kneeling over his dying uncle.
  • Lizard-Man throwscars over the side of a bridge while people scream and run in terror. Spider-Man enters and rescues the cars by spinning webs that leave the cars dangling from the bridge. After a suspended car with a small boy trapped inside catches on fire,Spider-Man climbs into the burning car, calms the terrified boy and rescues him.
  • The film depicts several intense brutal battles between Spider-Man and the Lizard-Man during which we see the pair using their superpowers to punch, kick and throw each other against and through walls with the Lizard-Man using his claws to slash out at Spider-Man. At one point the Lizard-Man uses a long jagged piece of metal as a sword, slashing and stabbing at Spider-Man, and wraps his tail around Spider-Man’s neck in an attempt to strangle him. Lizard-Man mixes chemicals together to create a bomb and then throws the bomb at Spider-Man, the resulting explosion ripping a hole in a wall. Later we see Peter’s chest with several large bloody claw-like gashes and some bloody cuts on his face and neck.
  • A policeman in a helicopter shoots Spider-Man with a taser-like weapon, causing Spider-Man to loose consciousness and fall from a great height to land on the roof of a car.
  • In a stylised action fight between Spider-Man and a number of policemen, Spider-Man kicks, punches and throws the policemen through the air until only one policeman is left standing.
  • In one emotionally intense and brutally violent scene a policeman is killed when Lizard-Man uses his clawed hand to punch him in the chest; we Lizard-Man’s claws protruding from the policeman’s back and see some blood on the wounds. Later we see the dying policeman lying on his back with bloody scratches on his face and a blood soaked chest. Peter/Spider-Man cries over the dead man and then screams out in anguish.    

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

N/A

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of eight, including the following:

  • Peter stands in a laboratory that contains thousands of genetically modified spiders spinning webs from machines. When Peter touches the web the spiders fall all over him. One of the spiders crawls over Peter’s neck and then bites him.
  • When Dr Conner transforms into the Lizard-Man he grabs his head between his hands in pain.  His hands mutate into lizard feet and scales form on his face. When the transformation is complete Dr Conner appears as a scary giant lizard-man that walks on its hind legs.
  • A genetically modified mouse looks like a giant lizard-like rat. We see an image of the monster mouse with its face and head covered in blood as it eats some type of animal flesh. 
  • A number of policemen transform into lizard like creatures with long tongues flicking out from their mouths.
  • Spider-Man breaks off Lizard-Man’s tail and a new one regenerates.
  • Lizard-Man’s clawed hand is covered in liquid nitrogen, his clawed fingers freezing and breaking off. 

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Sony products
  • Nike shoes
  • Microsoft’s Bing browser

There is also a lot of associated Spider-Man merchandise.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

several scenes of Peter flirting with Gwen

Gwen sends her father away by suggesting that she is behaving in an irrational manner because of her period - mentioning “cramps, lots of blood and vomiting.”

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains some partial nudity and sexual activity, including:

  • Gwen wears a short tight fitting skirt.
  • In one scene Peter Parker accidentally rips off a woman’s blouse revealing her bra
  • Peter and Gwen kiss passionately

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Several scenes of  Dr. Conner injecting himself with the serum that transforms him  into Lizard-Man. When he transforms back into a human state he becomes aggressive and paranoid as well as hearing voices inside his head.
  • Lizard-Man spays police with a green gas causing them to cough and choke on the fumes and then transform into lizard-like creatures.
  • Social drinking of wine with dinner.    

Coarse language

The film contains some occasional low-level coarse language, name calling and putdowns. Examples include:

  • “Oh my god, damn, thumbs planted up our arses, bug boy, you mother Hubbard, loser, suck up”

In a nutshell

The Amazing Spider-Man, based upon Marvel comic book characters, is superhero action adventure suited to an older adolescent and adult audience. The film is emotionally intense with violent and disturbing scenes that make it unsuitable for younger children who might be attracted by the Spider-Man character who they have seen as a toy or fancy dress costume.

The main messages from this movie are:

Those who have great talents have a responsibility to use them to help others.

Keeping secrets often comes at a cost.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

Responsibility: Peter’s Uncle Ben attempts to make Peter responsible for the consequences of his actions and Peter learns that responsibility means fixing problems that are a result of his actions.

Selflessness, compassion and empathy as demonstrated by Peter when he rescues a young boy from a burning car.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • the possible consequences of Peter’s irresponsible behaviour in relation to his Aunt May.
  • what responsibility means in relation to Peter using his superpowers.
  • the real-life consequences of vigilante-style revenge.

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