The Amazing Spider-Man (2012 – Cinema)

“You seriously think I’m a cop in a skin-tight red and blue suit?”

I disliked the Toby Maguire Spider-Man series, minted ten years ago when Hollywood studios were just finally finding their feet with the cinematic language of comic book adaptations. Director Bryan Singer had scored an early perfect hit with his ‘X-Men’ adaptation in 2000 setting the standard for how to do it convincingly with integrity while still bringing in the blockbuster bucks.  But these where still the first faltering steps as awful films like 2004’s ‘Catwoman’, 2003’s ‘Daredevil’ and Ang Lee’s misjudged 2003 ‘Hulk’ all attest.  Horror legend Sam Raimi’s 2002 ‘Spider-Man’ movie was superior to those films but for me it was still disappointingly average.  It was light, colourful, predictable and inoffensive fluff that spawned two profitable sequels of vastly differing quality.  But despite all this I was quietly excited by the prospect of the newly rebooted 2012 ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, as new star Andrew Garfield is one my favourite young actors.  He’s already got several great performances under his belt from projects like ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’, ‘Red Riding’ and ‘The Social Network’ so I knew he’d do something interesting with Peter Parker.

First off, the good (Of which there is plenty); The cast are all fantastic and yes Garfield is magnificent.  He brings a fragile, troubled flavour to the role of the teenage super hero aided by well written scenes that you genuinely believe would happen if a confused young kid found he had superpowers. The chemistry between Garfield and his love interest played by Emma Stone is electric.  Rhys Ifans brings devastating emotional weight and perfectly nuanced ambiguity to his portrayal as the big villain. The CGI sequences of Spider-Man gracefully swooping between buildings is so beautifully shot and edited that its like a breathtaking aerial ballet.  The Spidey-Fu street level fight scenes are visceral, exhilarating and bone crunching (For both Peter and his opponents).

Now onto the bad; The great chemistry of the romantic leads is somewhat wasted as Emma Stone’s character is underwritten and poorly woven into the fabric of the film, feeling like a tacked on love-interest.  The whole high-school drama subplot is so tired and formulaic that to call it cliqued is an insult to cliques.  Rhys Ifans’ powerful character is underused and had me feeling that it had been heavily cut in the edit, especially towards the end.  As I said before, the early punchups are so good that the big expensive showdown at the end actually felt anti-climactic in comparison.  However these aren’t fatal flaws as they are more about a lack of focus than actual miss-steps (Nothing that couldn’t be sorted out with a re-cut). All the basic elements are there for a thrilling new franchise, so with a little luck the inevitable sequels will really sing!.

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