Jul 11 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge
The Amazing Spider-Man
THE Amazing Spider-Man is a fresh take on the comic book superhero starring Andrew Garfield as high school student Peter Parker and his webbed alter-ego.
Peter has to juggle his new superpowers with his crush on fellow student Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) and clues about his parents’ disappearance that link to his father’s former partner Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).
As I said in my summer preview a couple of weeks ago, I was very trepidatious about The Amazing Spider-Man.
Five years after the, admittedly very ropey, third installment of director Sam Raimi’s original Spidey trilogy Columbia Pictures decided to completely reboot the franchise.
This has worked extremely well before (Batman Begins, X-Men: First Class) but five years isn’t very long and Raimi’s first two Spider-Man movies, particularly number two, were outstanding pieces of work.
The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t quite hit those lofty heights but swirls enough quality cinematic mouthwash around to wash away the bad taste left by Spider-Man 3.
The appropriately named Marc Webb is the new face in the director’s chair and James Vanderbilt (The Losers, Zodiac) is on story and screenplay duties, with Steve Kloves (Harry Potter series) and Spider-Man 2 and 3 screenwriter Alvin Sargent also contributing to the screenplay.
Billed as the “untold story” of Peter Parker’s past, it re-jigs small aspects of Spider-Man’s origin but beyond some early flashbacks of Peter’s parents’ mysterious departure, there’s not much difference from Raimi’s introduction to the character.
The inspiration behind Peter’s costume and development from experimental wall climber to full-on superhero is all very rushed too.
Like Batman Begins, our hero doesn’t appear for over an hour but the build is so good that you don’t mind.
Fun scenes during Peter’s transformation (meat loaf, basketball) mix well with his ongoing search for information about his parents and interaction with Gwen and Dr Connors.
I’ve been a huge fan of Garfield and Stone’s output so far and they are on fire here. You won’t miss Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst one bit.
Garfield is a more hip Peter that stands up to the school bully before he gains super powers, but the half-smiles and hands-in-pockets stance hint at the nerd at heart.
This is a more wise-cracking Spider-Man too as he makes a, mainly nighttime-set, New York City his playground.
Welshman Ifans’ Lizard makes for a competent villain but the ‘Peter’s mentor descending into villainy’ role was nailed much better by Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2. Ifans’ cause isn’t helped by being replaced by a so-so CGI creation.
Webb’s supporting cast are superb. Denis Leary (Captain Stacy), Sally Field (Aunt May) and Martin Sheen (Uncle Ben) all impress, particularly the latter with his warmth and humour.
Webb proved he could do romance to a hip, fun standard with previous film (500) Days of Summer and that applies here as well.
He also handles action pretty well too. It’s true the film is maybe a little slight in that department for a summer blockbuster but a Spider-Man v Lizard school smackdown (complete with obligatory Stan Lee cameo) is very cool and the finale just about packs enough of a punch.
The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t quite live up to its name but there’s enough strength on show to suggest that if the same director and cast stick around, some superlative sequels could be on the way.
Now, if only the 28-year-old Garfield could get his hands on some super anti-aging cream...
Rating – 7 out of 10.