Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen
Director: Marc Webb
When Sam Raimi brought Marvel’s comic book star to life, he re-invented the superhero movie and, basically, laid the path for all that have followed. Now, only a decade after we saw Tobey Maguire down the red outfit, Spidey’s getting a reboot.
While some might call it a simple licencing exercise, the film claims to tell the ‘untold story’ and show Spiderman in a new light. The truth is just about somewhere in the middle.
Re-telling the origins story, we follow high school genius Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) quest for answers over the disappearance of his parents after the discovery of a clue about his father’s work. He seeks the help of scientist Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), all while making small talk with gorgeous class mate Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) and the pre-requisite spider-bite.
When Curt Connors uses Peter’s research for his own ends though, Peter must use his new found powers to help protect the city from a dangerous threat.
The trouble with The Amazing Spiderman is that it simply isn’t. This isn’t to any detriment of the main players though, simply a combination of a solid, but not spectacular, plot and a real lack of threat and tension.
Both Garfield and Stone are great, although as usual, Stone steals every scene she’s in, giving so much more to Gwen than is written down on the pages. The whole cast is very well done, with Martin Sheen perfect for the Uncle Ben role and Denis Leary bringing all of his coarse charm to Gwen’s father Captain Stacey.
Only Rhys Ifans falls short, but it’s largely due to the shortcomings of Curt Connors, a rather poor villain with wild character swings and some tenuous motivations. His alter ego never really feels imposing either, feeling more half-baked Hulk than terrifying beast. Despite the massive claws and tail, Willem Dafoe was far more terrifying.
The film’s anchor and finest moments are those between Garfield and Stone, the two having amazing chemistry (although we all know about that) on screen, never repeating the awkward, boring moments that frequented the Toby Maguire era.
Webb’s experience on show here the most, with the (500) Days of Summer director easily more comfortable with the quieter, character driven moments than the special effects driven set pieces. That they not only outnumber but are far more memorable than the action scenes makes The Amazing Spiderman feel far stronger whenever Peter Parker hasn’t got his mask on.
While the film doesn’t live up to its name and probably won’t convince any old doubters to join the fan club, it is a promising start for the new era of the web-slinging crime fighter.
The Amazing Spiderman is out now
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith