Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Amazing Spider-man: Movie Review

The Amazing Spider-man: Movie Review

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary
Director: Marc Webb

Here comes The Amazing Spider-man 2012.

Andrew Garfield takes on the iconic role of Peter Parker, in this reboot of the franchise.

Abandoned by his parents when he was a young boy, Peter grows up with his Uncle Ben (the ever brilliant Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). A typical teenage outsider, this Parker is a skateboarder who defends the picked on at school and gets a beating for his troubles.

But it also gets him the attention of Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, in yet another excellent turn).

Trying to find out what happened to his parents, Peter's awkward quest leads him to Oscorp and the one armed Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's former partner. Connors' research is into tissue regeneration and when Peter helps with the research, he inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events which will have catastrophic life-changing effects.

The idea of a reboot of the Spider-man series wasn't one which had some fans and movie goers excited. 

Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst had pretty much got it wrapped up with the trilogy of films nearly a decade ago, so there was perhaps some fears as to where a new version of the established story could go.

But clearly, based on this latest, the answer is wherever it wants.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are the perfect pair as Spidey and Stacy; they have a sparky, realistic relationship which is grounded, human and benefits from excellent chemistry. There's a playfulness underpinning the usual sadness of this relationship and is a direct result of an early unveiling that Parker is Spider-man. It's a bold creative decision which means this version of Spider-man doesn't wallow or wander into emo territory, preferring to bring a bit of spring into the proceedings. His is also a Peter Parker whose strength is in science, with the web slinging the result of the Spidey intelligence rather than a genetic touch. It's a nice nod to the comics' history and also gives this Spidey a bit more of a vulnerable feel, prone as he is to looking beaten to pieces after the mask's taken off following a fight with Lizard.

It's also Garfield who rises high and above with this role - he's stunningly good in this, bringing the torture and outsider feel as well as the heart and pathos needed for such a dark origins story. Nerdy and a bit gangly, with a Spidey who delivers the quips from the comic books while he's crime fighting, this role deserves to send Garfield into the stratosphere. Throw in a bit of angst / romance with Emma Stone as a perfect foil, and these two actors showcase two young talents at the top of their game. She's a Stacy who convinces from the start and whose relationship with Parker seems real even if it seems like their attraction is initially unlikely. The two share a connection; he's an orphan and she's a daughter who worries every day her cop father won't return home from the job.

There's emotion which engages in spades here (even if there are a few cheesy scenes towards the end) and a romance which is well directed and realistic amongst the action sequences.

Any thoughts that this is a worthless reboot/ remake are dispelled in this smart reimagining of the Spidey myth which doesn't wallow in self loathing and self doubt but embraces the romance (which is what makes a superhero, right?)

The supporting cast is excellent - Martin Sheen is a very good Uncle Ben - the kind of moral guardian everyone will want in their life afterwards, Rhys Ifans does a reasonably conflicted but ultimately mad scientist whose Lizard alter ego is an interesting, if not entirely successful CGI take on the creature (looking more like a slimy snot covered green Thing from the Fantastic Four with a lizard tail) and Denis Leary breathes a bit of life into the police captain, determined to bring the masked vigilante to justice.

In terms of action, the CGI web slinging is very well realised and stylishly done; mixing in a few Spidey POV shots to scenes of the webbed one hurtling through the air, the CGI is well executed and looks incredibly stunning (and geekily cool) in IMAX.

If you're being picky about this version of Spider-man, you could argue that the Lizard lets the side down a little in terms of creating a creature that matches some of the other FX work within the film; and his overall plot to take the world isn't anything spectacularly original or cleverly executed. Plus the film's ever so slightly long with some heavy handed cheesy moments towards the end - a scene where workmen line up cranes to help an injured Spidey get to the top of the Oscorp tower is painful in some ways.  However, those are a few minor niggles for a film which delivers good solid action and a strong story which engages the heart as well as the visual senses.

But all in all, The Amazing Spider-man is a stunning take on an established comic book favourite - and manages to put the prior versions in the shade, which is no mean feat.

(Make sure you stick around for the extra bit after the credits which alludes to a sequel - and also, enjoy the obligatory Stan Lee cameo!)


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