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The Amazing Spider-Man

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Released: 2012

Directed By: Marc Webb

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone

Certificate: 12A

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’

Comicbook geeks whipped into a frenzy by Marvel’s crown jewel ‘Avengers Assemble’. DC retaliating with their hotly anticipated ‘all guns blazing’ finale to Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Positioned in the middle of the melee, an itsy bitsy spider fighting for some much needed attention. Indeed, the reputation of our favourite webslinger was in tatters after Sam Raimi’s overstuffed and downright disappointing third installment from 2007. Cue wholesale changes and a ‘back to basics’ approach. In some quarters, it’s been tagged the ‘unnecessary reboot’. Hardly a surprise with the original debuting back in 2002.. Can 500 Days Of Summer director Marc Webb (fitting surname) justify the retelling of Peter Parker’s ascend to NYC crimefighter?

The die hards will know the basic premise all too well. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield embodying the iconic suit) wrestles with his emotions as he attempts to connect the dots to his mysterious childhood past, most notably brought on through his secretive father Richard Parker. A sudden breakthrough whilst rummaging through some family possessions leads him straight to a former colleague of Richard’s, in the form of Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). Based at Oscorp, they may bond through Connor’s objective to regrow limbs through DNA splicing of different species, but it’s soon apparent they will be sworn enemies before long. To even the balance, Parker of course has a rather famous and ‘joyous’ encounter with an eight legged creature..

Grounded back in everyday life and under the wing of adopted parents Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), his geeky levels of enthusiasm for science and skateboarding leave him on the outskirts of high school popularity. Luckily for Mr Parker, he soon finds comfort through easy on the eyes classmate and first love from the comics Gwen Stacy (real life girlfriend Emma Stone) and love blossoms.. let’s all hope she appreciates the role of ‘damsel in distress’ like Mary Jane Watson!

‘The Amazing Spiderman’ certainly reeks of familiarity. In its defence, many superhuman franchises have completely lost their way once passed on into less capable hands (Bryan Singer’s X-Men to Brett Ratner’s!?). So i’m firmly in the camp of returning to the origin being a smart move by the top dogs at Sony and Columbia and to Webb’s credit, this is a more streamlined and detailed approach to the story.

Disappearing further down the rabbit hole of Parker’s past most notably the opening flashback segment, provides emotional heft to the latter verbal exchanges that never feel too contrived. Parker’s tinkering of the Spidey gear is certainly more fully fledged this time round also, echoing the likes of other Marvel adaps such as RDJ’s Iron Man and adding an extra layer of realism we normally associate with the character in the process.

Garfield to put it mildly, is a sensational Spiderman. Leaving Mcguire’s interpretation well in the shade (no mean feat after a hat trick of films), he exudes charisma in abundance with a killer eye for a humourous wisecrack. At the other end of the spectrum, his chemistry with Stone’s Stacy is thoroughly convincing and their witty banter certainly helps to fill the void as the film builds to its inevitable big budget explosion. Just don’t expect any wet t shirt snogs this time. With such a spot on performance from our friendly neighbourhood protagonist, it’s a relief to find the antagonist on top form also. Rhys Ifan’s portrayal of ‘The Lizard’ is full of menace who only just falls short of Alfred Molina’s Doc-Ock as the series’ most compelling adversary.

A novice to the world of the blockbuster, you would anticipate director Webb being less sure-footed in the excitement stakes compared to the ‘human’ aspect. Retaining the epic scale that comes with such swinging around whilst laying more emphasis on the physicality, the action is well staged and full of energy.

The only niggles in this department is that it doesn’t contain a truly memorable set piece that sticks in the memory, like the dramatic train scrap from ‘2’ and some occasionally shoddy CGI creeps in. In addition, the musical score is somewhat distracting (Coldplay!?) and sporadically feels ill-fitting of the sequences they accompany.

It’s not as daring in its reinvention as say, a ‘Batman’. However, completely aware of what made the on-screen interpretation work so well in the first place, Marc Webb’s ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ takes the best qualities originally planted by Raimi and accentuates them to great effect.

Terrific. 2012 > 2002

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