Good, but it’s too soon
The Amazing SpiderMan
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Dennis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Chris Zylka. Screenplay by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves, directed by Marc Webb. 136 minutes, rated M (violence) Showing at Reading Porirua and Light House Pauatahanui cinemas. 3-D version reviewed.
Stop me if you’ve seen this one before. High school outcast Peter Parker stumbles into hightech spidery- science experiment, gets bitten and develops arachnid abilities.
Parker must come to grips with his new powers and the responsibility that comes with them. A personal tragedy must be atoned, a mad scientist must be stopped and a teen sweetheart must be protected.
Devised by comic book legends Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962 as parable for puberty and adolescent dilemmas, it’s an understatement to say Spider- Man – Marvel’s flagpole title and most recognisable character – holds enduring appeal. But even before a scene was shot for The Amazing Spider-Man, the faith of fans was tested.
This is not a sequel to the very solid Spider-Man films made by Sam Raimi, that starred Tobey Maguire, from 2002-07. It’s starting over, a ‘‘reboot’’. And for a studio to revisit the original story of Spider-Man, a mere 10 years after Raimi’s fairly definitive picture, was disconcerting and suggested callous motives.
Sony was either making the movie as a cynical cash-grab to recast the web-slinger in 3-D and/or to ensure the property’s rights didn’t return to Marvel, who would no doubt love to have Spidey swing into an Avengers movie.
Worse still were fears Spider-Man was being repackaged for the Twilight age.
The latter certainly hasn’t happened. The Amazing Spider-Man is an enjoyable, well- crafted adventure, buoyed by Andrew Garfield’s performance. His is an edgy, nervous and angry Peter Parker, whereas Maguire was all pluck and virtue.
Director Marc Webb gives us a hero with more attitude – the sarcastic quips are a welcome addition – a greater focus on Parker’s relationships and some thrilling special effects. It is every bit the equal of Raimi’s SpiderMan – but for all its innovations, tweaks and tonal shifts, the over-familiarity of the story and its themes hurts the movie.
Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey is more interesting – and far less annoying – than Kirsten Dunst’s Mary-Jane but their function is the same. The sympathetic villain Dr Curt Connors ( Rhys Ifans), who becomes The Lizard, hits all the same notes as Spider-Man 2’s Dr Octopus.
Webb can reword ‘‘ with great power comes great responsibility’’ as much as he likes but the legacy of the character demands the DNA of the story – one so fresh in our minds – remain unchanged. The Amazing Spider-Man is a fine movie, just made 20 years too soon.
New threads: Andrew Garfield, your not-quite-so-friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. It’s a bold Spidey reboot but hardly a fresh spin.