Review: The Amazing Spider-Man / Cert: 12 / Director: Marc Webb / Screenplay: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves / Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field / Release Date: November 26th
Coming a mere five years after Sam Raimi’s much derided Spider-Man 3, Sony’s reboot of everyone’s favourite web crawler is a mixed bag. Showing us another version of Peter Parker’s origin story as he is transferred from a geeky schoolboy into a crime fighting superhero, fans of comic-book canon will be pleased with some of the revisions on show here. But more on that in a moment.
Parker (Garfield) is bitten by a radioactive spider, giving him similar abilities to the arachnid; he is able to climb walls and is blessed with super reactions and acrobatic abilities. After his Uncle Ben (Sheen) is killed by a robber, Peter searches the seedy underworld, trying to find the crook he murdered him. At the same time, Dr Curt Connors (Ifans) is experimenting with lizard DNA in order to find a way for amputees to regrow their missing limbs. Of course, it all goes awry and Connors ends up becoming The Lizard, who threatens the whole city when he tries to disperse his serum across the skyline and turn everyone into reptiles.
Now, there are a lot of positives on show here. It may seem to be too soon after Raimi’s take, but the inclusion of Gwen Stacy (Stone) as Parker’s love interest will warm the hearts of die-hard fans, even if they know what’s destined to happen to her in the future. The fact that Parker has to build his web-shooters, instead of Tobey Maguire’s organic dispensers is a nice touch too. Garfield makes a nicely cocky Peter Parker, albeit with a very human side and Stone is reliable as ever. Denis Leary, Gwen’s father and Captain of the police force is nicely restrained and Ifans is just shy of showing how bug-eyed crazy he can be.
The backstory involving Parker’s parents is a new idea and one that promises to be further investigated over the next two films in the trilogy. Whether it works or not remains to be seen. From a weaker perspective, the CGI on The Lizard is pretty weak and makes the villain even more cartoonish than his four colour page counterpart. It can also be said that Garfield’s Parker is more emotional than ever, but at least it gives him some real gravitas. It’ll be interesting to see where they take him in the next couple of adventures.
It’s still better than Spider-Man 3 (although not as good as 2) and you can’t help but think that they omitted a word from the title – The Amazingly Emotional Spiderman would have described it so much better. Origin stories are always slow to get going, an excuse that the sequel will not be able to rely on. A promising start.
Extras: Deleted scenes / Marc Webb commentary / Production gallery / Featurettes / Second Screen App (exclusive to Blu-ray) / 3D 101 with Marc Webb (exclusive to 3D Blu-ray) / 3D Image Progression Reel (exclusive to 3D Blu-ray)