Film review: The Amazing Spider-Man (12A)
MARVEL has already had a truly marvellous year. Last month, superhero bonanza Avengers Assemble burst into the box office with a new breed of action film - firmly sticking comic-book concepts on the movie map.
And now it seems that Stan Lee and his team are not just looking to develop new ideas and make them successful, but revisit old ones.
A decade ago, Sam Raimi released Spider-Man, the first in a trilogy of films about the legendary Peter Parker. Today, the reset button has been pressed and The Amazing Spider-Man has emerged in its stead.
Firstly, the powers-that-be have replaced the tired and nonchalant Tobey Maguire with fresh-faced Brit Andrew Garfield - an excellent trade-off.
Secondly, the premise still remains the same - a bashful, geeky student, who gets pummelled by jocks at every turn, is imbued with insect-like powers after being bitten by a spider - but despite unavoidable similarities in the plot, the two could not be any more different. Importantly, the narrative is miles more convincing. Peter Parker (Garfield) is the son of troubled scientist Richard Parker (Campbell Scott), who has spent his life wrapped up in the secret work of Oscorp.
When Peter's parents go into hiding without explanation, he is left in the care of Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). Jump forward 10 or so years and Peter is facing his own troubles: high school and girls.
Besotted with the beautiful Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone), daughter of police chief Captain Stacey (Denis Leary), science geek Peter spends his days struggling to string coherent sentences together, getting beaten up and rolling along on his skateboard.
But one day changes everything, when he discovers evidence linking his parents' disappearance to animal genetics expert Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). Keen to find out more, Peter visits Oscorp, but instead of finding out the truth gets bitten by a genetically-engineered, eight-legged fiend. And, little does Peter know, Connors is in fact his nemesis-to-be, with his destructive alter ego, The Lizard.
The Amazing Spider-Man cannot boast much in the way of originality, but to be honest, unique plots are few and far between these days anyway. What it lacks in ingenuity, it makes up for in great CGI scenes, battles and POV shots, interesting character development, depth and a convincing back story. Gwen and Peter's bashful, awkward and forbidden romance is an added bonus from 500 Days Of Summer director Marc Webb. His indie rom-com background ensures the chemistry between Stone and Garfield really shines through, while Ifans' worthy adversarial role showcases the darker elements of the story.
Most notable is Garfield's performance and his transformation scenes are some of the best in the movie. After being bitten, Peter is in a delirious, over-excited, comically-sweaty state - so much so that he accidentally beats up half-a-dozen guys on a subway - unaware of his new powers and mumbling Hugh Grant-style apologies throughout.
He gets a solid hour of glorious screen-time (great for us ladies!) and slips into the character with ease and grace - bringing the whole franchise back into full swing.
This article appeared in Local Berkshire 12 Jul 12