THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (M)
STARS: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field
It’s five years after Sam Raimi’s enormously successful Spider-Man trilogy wrapped up with Tobey Maguire as your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman.
Now we have the reboot – or re-start – of a new Spidey-franchise, with Brit actor Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter Parker / Spider-Man. And the director – I kid you not – is named Mark Webb! He did the very cool rom-com 500 Days of Summer.
As with most reboots, this is an origin story that goes back to Peter Parker as a child, when his parents mysteriously disappeared.
As a teen, Peter (Garfield) grows up with his aunt and uncle (Sally Field, Martin Sheen). When he finds his father’s hidden briefcase, it leads him to his father’s former work partner Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who’s now a one-armed scientist at Oscorp. He’s trying to splice human and animal DNA to eradicate human weakness.
Peter, of course, gets bitten by a super-Spider and almost immediately becomes Spider-Man. When he wakes up on a subway, his sticky fingers unwittingly rip off a girl’s shirt, and he now has the strength and confidence to tackle the school bully.
That gets him noticed by comely classmate Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), whose father happens to be the chief of police (Denis Leary). But when Dr Connors injects himself with lizard DNA in the hope of regenerating his missing arm — uh-oh — he transforms into a giant lizard man. Spidey must battle to stop him from gassing NYC.
The first question is ‘did they need to reboot Spider-Man?’ The answer, of course, is no. Maguire and Raimi were meant to make Spider-Man 4, but Maguire was getting too old (he’s 37) and the thrid film went off the rails. Sony had to make something to retain the rights from Marvel Comics. So they’ve wiped the slate clean and retooled it for a younger, hipper modern audience.
Webb has gone a bit darker and grittier here. Not quite The Dark Knight gritty, but not light and bright like the other Spider-movies.
The second question is ‘why make it so similar to the first Spidey movie?’ Like those genetically modified spiders, it’s almost a slone of the original; nerd-boy lives with aunt and uncle, gets bullied at school, bitten by super-spider and battles baddies in the city.
Some of it is scene-for-scene, like when Parker learns to harness his Spider-powers, or gets revenge on the bully, or makes his costume.
Indeed, the only difference between the two films is the “AMAZING” part in the title.
There’s lots of weak points in the plot, too. Emma Stone has nothing to do as love-interest Gwen Stacy. The Lizard is a weak villain and his evil plot is pretty lame. And we get no answers about Parker’s parents.
That said, what it lacks in story and substance it makes up for in character, humour, action and 3D effect.
Garfield delivers plenty of humour and charm. The action is truly amazing, with some breathtaking sequences of Spidey swinging from crane to crane through New York City (it’s some of the best effect and 3D I’ve seen). But most of all, Garfield and Stone are pitch perfect as Parker and Stacy, and share some real chemistry and heat.
The Amazing Spider-Man is far from perfect, and more a remake than a reboot, but boy is it a hip, funny, thrilling ride.
Score: 6.5 / 10