Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Dennis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan
Story: James Vanderbilt
Director: Marc Webb
Rating: UK - 12A
The summer blockbuster season opens with a retread of the Spider-Man movies - probably what appears to be one of the most redundant resurrections, seeing as the last time this story was told was a mere 10 years ago, when Sam Raimi gave us his version with Tobey Maguire, which spawned two sequels.
The story is familiar - Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), is a high school student, living with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) after the death of his parents during his childhood. He has a crush on his classmate Gwen (Emma Stone), and is leading a happy life until he discovers some secrets that lead him to his father's ex-partner Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans), and the experimental work being carried out by the company Connors works for, Oscorp. Once at Oscorp, Peter gets bitten by a spider, and finds his life starts changing. At the same time, he provides Connors with some of his late father's research, which helps Connors to become The Lizard.
There is nothing new in the story, yet a large part of The Amazing Spider-man is well made, and the sequences in particular where Peter realises his powers, and uses them to his benefit, are a lot of fun. However, the film is held back by the need to explain the whole back story, and it does this in a lot of detail. It's not that these scenes are badly written, acted or directed - it's just that the strong sense of deja vu makes them feel, well, fairly redundant.
The positive about the back story, however, is the characterisation of Peter Parker. Rather than being a cliched, over the top geek, the film keeps it fairly subtle, with Peter just being a student who is more interested in his photography than with being popular. In fact, throughout the film, before, during and after the transformation into Spider-man, Peter Parker's character is very human - when he finds out about his powers, he plays around with them (in a fairly amusing scene with a car thief). This ability to relate to the character makes it easy to root for him throughout the film, and this is helped along by Andrew Garfield's earnest performance. In fact, it is Garfield who helps the film along even when the pace drops - this is a very good performance, and in my opinion, much better than Tobey Maguire's Spidey. The other performances complement Garfield's - Martin Sheen and Sally Field are immensely likeable as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, Rhys Ifans plays the arch nemesis well, and Emma Stone looks pretty (and doesn't really have a huge amount else to do).
In some respects, this is a tough film to review - there is nothing really ?wrong? with it, and is a perfectly enjoyable way of spending an evening at the cinema - it's just that it doesn't seem as pleasing as, say, Christopher Nolan's Batman films.
So, is The Amazing Spider-Man really so amazing? Unfortunately not. But, it's worth a watch if you have a couple of hours to spare.