Friday, 6 July 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man - Review

It could have all gone so badly.  'A re-boot too far,' we cried.  'From the beginning?  Again?!'  we asked.  But The Amazing Spider-Man manages to charm its way into the heart by bettering Sam Raimi's vision and getting close to The Avengers with its sharp script and lovely visuals.

Andrew Garfield is brilliant as Peter Parker.  Gone is Tobey Maguire's nervous take on the character, Garfield brings an edge to the role and better acting.  It feels closer to the comics, the early scenes after the inevitable spider bite, as Parker discovers what he's capable of, are a joy.

Sally Field and Martin Sheen bring some gravitas to their roles as Aunt May and Uncle Ben but it's the awkward romantic scenes between Garfield and Emma Stone, who plays Gwen Stacey, that gives the film its emotional heart.  Crucially the romance feels real.

But when all is said and done, what we want is Spider-Man swinging around New York and boy do we get it.  The POV shots are still a bit cack and pointless (even in 3D they felt redundant) but there's some glorious action stuff and more importantly enough classic Spidey poses to fill a Spider-Man annual.

The plot revolves around Parker discovering secrets about his father which lead him to OsCorp and Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).  Connors is working on gene splicing between species, desperate to find a way to grow back a missing arm.  Unfortunately for Connors things go a bit wrong and he ends up as a weird Lizard/man hybrid who's all kinds of mad in lizard form.  The Lizard looks the business, although you'll wish he had more screen time.

Garfield's Spidey delivers the one liners with panache, you'll laugh out loud a few times, but it never gets close to The Avengers for the funny.  Is it grittier than Raimi's trilogy?  Yes, a bit, but we're not talking Dark Knight gritty, it just feels very contemporary and less glossy.

It hits the right beats too.  There's some nice stuff around Parker moving from a vengeful vigilante to hero and at last proper Spider-Man webbing.  Sounds small, but for the fanboys that webbing stuff is important.  Honest.

The Amazing Spider-Man deserves to be seen.  It pays homage to what's gone before but also carves its own furrow of ass kicking, wise cracking superhero and clearly the intention is for there to be more.  Despite one bum note of a scene late on, the film is a delight.  If you loved The Avengers you'll love this.  Well played Marc Webb.
★★★★☆