Good, but it’s too soon

The Amaz­ing Spi­derMan

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

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.

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