The Amazing Spider Man

Art & Culture

I’m not a fan of comic book or superhero movies and was underwhelmed by the three previous Spiderman movies, made between 2002 and 2007, but to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed this new version, which stars the wonderful Andrew Garfield and the equally brilliant Emma Stone. Given that Avengers was pretty good, and Batman is bound to be terrific, this might just be a top trio of crime-busting lycra-wearing movies.

The story is pretty much the same as before. Young Peter Parker loses his parents, is brought up by older relatives (Martin Sheen and Sally Field), gets bitten by a spider, and starts to develop a new and stickier personality. He also acquires a girlfriend whose father just happens to be Chief of Police. There is an arch-enemy of course, who starts out as Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), an ex-colleague of Parker senior, but mutates into a giant lizard who is determined to turn the world into giant lizards. And that’s about it.

So why is it so appealing? Well, like I said, there’s Andrew Garfield. Despite being 28, he plays an 18 year old with great success, capturing the charmingly gawky and geeky nature of Peter Parker. And when he teams up with Gwen (Emma Stone) it’s a match made in heaven, and you can’t help just enjoying the chemistry they have between them. Garfield has come a long way in a short time, with a career-changing role in Social Network, as well as being the best thing in Never Let Me Go. He would also be ideally cast if anyone decided to make a biopic of Andy Murray. Emma Stone came to my attention in Easy A, then Zombieland, and was excellent (and underrated) in The Help. She has to be one of the most appealing young actresses in Hollywood, and survives the ghastly hairstyles that are inflicted on her in this film.

It’s simple. If you like the people who appear on screen, you’re halfway there. If not, you’re doomed. So, we’re off to a good start. Then there are the supporting characters none of whom make a fool of themselves. There’s lots of swinging from skyscrapers using spider’s web with ten times the strength of steel cable, and a bearable amount of CGI creatures biffing each other. There are few scenes designed to tug the heartstrings, which they do successfully, including a tear-inducing parting in the rain, and enough humour to keep things light (something I doubt we’ll see much of in Dark Knight Rises).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a sudden convert to Marvel Comic movies. The cinema landscape is already littered with far too many of them, and the various sequels that appear with monotonous regularity. I don’t want every screen within reach to be occupied by Bananaman, Terrapinman or even Squirrelman, but I’ll put up with Spiderman – for now.


By Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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