The Amazing Spider-Man 1 DI
2012 Running time: 136 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3
KA The Amazing Spider Man

Synopsis

Young British hero Andrew Garfield plays the legendary webslinger and his alter-ego Peter Parker as director Marc Webb offers a new spin on Stan Lee's comic-book creation. Emma Stone is his dream girl Gwen Stacy while Rhys Ifans plays Dr Curt Connors, the boffin whose pioneering research unfortunately turns him into a full-scale villain known as The Lizard. Focusing on Peter's struggle to control his new abilities while dealing with life in high school, this lively reboot pitches for a slightly more romantic audience than Sam Raimi's dark and geeky trilogy. But it still comes out swinging.

Director

  • Marc Webb

Cast

  • Andrew Garfield

  • Emma Stone

  • Rhys Ifans

  • Martin Sheen

  • Sally Field

Review

With a new, young, slightly cheaper cast and a director less inclined to do his own thing - previous Spidey director Sam Raimi's dismay at being forced to include Venom in Spidey 3 was indicative of the issues holding the franchise back - Sony are putting Spider-Man back into play for the long term.

But where Raimi sought to create a faithful interpretation of how he saw the comic, the aptly named Marc Webb aims more for the Twilight audience, dressing Garfield's Peter Parker up as a hooded, introspective skater. A lost and troubled teenager desperate to know why his parents left him, before apparently dying in a plane crash.

Drawn towards the mystery, Parker is led to his father's former lab partner, Dr Curt Connors (Ifans), a genetic scientist who sees cross-species DNA tinkering as the cure for most of life's ills.

But when Peter sneaks around Dr Connors' lab, he stumbles upon a complicated room full of spiders, and the rest, as you well know, is history.

For the first hour, Webb's Spider-Man is steady stuff. Although offering little improvement on the telling of the story, there's something neat about making the connection between Peter's missing parents, and his arachnoidal fate.

The fate of Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) is dealt with slightly differently, but to the same effect, as Parker dedicates his new-found skills to tracking down the tattooed villain who pulls the trigger on his kindly uncle.

The transformation sequences are amusing yet the pacing is a little muddled, with Peter going from suspicion of his new abiities to jumping off skyscrapers in one montage, and all but forgetting he's turning into a human spider as he woos high school chick Gwen (Emma Stone in the role of Parker's other love interest)... who just happens to be Dr Connors' lab assistant, and daughter of the chief of police George Stacey (Denis Leary), who's on the new vigilante's case.

Meanwhile, the villainy comes in the form of a CGI lizard, for Dr Connors, intent on proving his research will work for the as-yet-unseen billionaire Norman Osborne, takes his medicine too early, and turns into a monster.

Once the first hour is up and the novelty factor of watching a teenager become a superhero wears off, Webb's Spider-Man loses steam and falls into a series of increasingly silly plotholes, not least in the denouement which, when looked at a little closer, doesn't make much sense at all.

Sure, this stuff can be overlooked - this is a movie about a boy who can climb walls after all - but when Spider-Man frequently takes off his mask, often to answer the mobile (Chris Nolan won't even let Christian Bale take his cowl off on set), it's difficult to be that forgiving. And then there's the crane scene; a sequence so illogical and poorly executed it'd struggle to make the cut of the TV cartoon.

Fortunately, the cast is peppered with talent, particularly with the exceedingly likeable Garfield adding depth to the fairly one-dimensional nerd, and Ifans offering a Doc Ock-level of shadiness to the non-CGI appearances of Dr Connors (if only his reptilian alter-ego was painted with as much detail). Indeed, Webb is clearly in his element when it comes to character development.

Judged on its own merits, The Amazing Spider-Man is a decent comic booker, albeit based on a flawed, contrived, and somewhat cyclical script designed to set up a long-running series.

But with Raimi's efforts so fresh in the mind, it's impossible not to compare the old with the new. The flair and depth of Raimi's first two efforts highlight exactly how amazingly mediocre this Spider-Man is.

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