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The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man

Released 3 July 2012
Director Marc Webb

Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field

James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves

Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach
Origin United States
Running Time 136 minutes
Genre Action, adventure, fantasy
Rating 12A

Once more with feeling.

Talking to people in the last few weeks about the upcoming release of The Amazing Spider-Man, the prevailing reaction has been “Didn’t I just see that?!” It’s a fair point. Though the first Raimi directed film was way back in 2002, Tobey Maguire only hung up his jumpsuit as recently as 2007. So, we are already intimately familiar with the basic story of Peter Parker but I don’t think that matters. The creations of Stan Lee have become so canonical in popular culture that they have the potential to be revisited over and over again, in the same way as the works of Shakespeare. The important thing is that each iteration does something new, making the story fresh. Director Marc Webb’s (500 Days of Summer) version does just that.

Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) plays Parker, an awkward, intelligent teenager. Since the disappearance of his scientist parents, Peter has been in the care of his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). Upon discovering an old briefcase, Peter comes into contact with his father’s ex-partner Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) who is still working in the field of genetics. It is while visiting the Connors facility that Peter is bitten by a spider, transforming him into the titular hero. At first, he is exhilarated  by his new powers but soon he is fighting for his life against the increasingly unhinged (and increasingly scaly) Connors.

So the Green Goblin is gone but what else is new? Well from the beginning of the film it’s clear that characterisation takes precedent over CGI. The script really gives the story and more importantly the characters, room to breathe. It may take a little while to get to the web-slinging (much improved since Raimi’s day) but with a cast this good, more time in their company can only be a good thing. At its centre, Garfield is fantastic. Despite being twenty-eight himself, he gives an utterly convincing portrayal of a teenager, an endearing mixture of insecurity and arrogance. His Spiderman feels real. As does his relationship with Emma Stone’s smart and resourceful Gwen Stacey; a much more interesting female lead than Mary Jane. Ifans meanwhile does a remarkable job of creating a monster who is very human.

The Amazing Spider-Man is not a pointless reboot, but an exhilarating re-imagining of a well loved story. Funny, exciting and featuring a top-notch cast, this now feels like the definitive take.

- Linda O’Brien