The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Film review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), directed by Marc Webb … yes, really

theamazingspidermanPeter Parker’s parents died when he was a kid, so he was raised by Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field, although I kept thinking of her as Nora, the Walker matriarch in Brothers & Sisters).

Peter (Andrew Garfield) grows up to be a clever lad who enjoys photography, lusting after pretty Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and is picked on at school. When he starts looking into his parents untimely demise, he comes across the genetics research lab his dad used to work for, and his father’s old friend, Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).

As luck would have it, Gwen is an intern at the lab, Dr Connors is trying to grow his arm back, and Peter ends up getting bitten by a spider and decides to suit up and become a vigilante: Spider-Man.

Also starring Denis Leary as Captain Stacy, and Irrfan Khan as Rajit Ratha.

When I first heard they were re-booting the Spider-Man franchise, I wondered what on earth for.  It wasn’t that long ago that we had a whole trilogy, starring Tobey Maguire, and now they’re doing it again? With regards to the Hulk films, a re-boot was called for – Hulk (2003) isn’t exactly brilliant – but there was nothing really wrong with Spider-Man.

Well, they wanted to make a darker, grittier Spider-Man, because Christopher Nolan’s Batman re-boot has been so successful, and that’s so dark and gritty you need a torch. (On a side note, they’re also using the “darker, grittier” recipe for a Superman re-boot … because that’ll … work?) How is The Amazing Spider-Man darker and grittier? The colours of his blue-and-red suit are more muted, the colours of the film itself have been turned down a notch … and Peter Parker has more of an attitude.

Not in a bad way, though.

What I like about this Peter Parker is that while he’s a little goofy, cocky and nerdy, he’s also a real teenager. He has feelings, and he might be reckless and arrogant, but he does have a heart and cares deeply. (He could only be more Gryffindor poster boy if the blue on his suit was golden yellow.) If you compare the character in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, Peter in this film is less of a douche.

The only people I had heard about being in this film were Andrew Garfield, and, once the trailers started showing on TV, Rhys Ifans. The inclusion of the latter made me smile excitedly (Luna’s dad!!). His scientist is a peculiar mix of baddie and goodie at the same time, which is fascinating. I’m not sure why he can’t get the genetics to stick when all it took Peter Parker was to get bitten by a spider. Maybe he should have a reptile bite him?

To see Martin Sheen was a “hey! Awesome!” but I was even more thrilled to see Sally Field … even if I kept thinking of her as Nora Walker. (Note to self: finish watching series 5 of Brothers & Sisters.) Great hair she had too. Naw, Field and Sheen were great. Such warmth. Just a little disappointed that Uncle Ben never got to say The Uncle Ben line.

If you’re not keen on spiders, yeah, there are spiders here. Of course. The Squeeze turned to me during the opening credits (featuring spiders making webs) and said something like “bet you’re not enjoying this!” which I admitted I wasn’t. I’m really arachnophobic but I can (sort of) handle spiders on the screen in a cinema or on TV, because I know they’re not actually with me in the room, and there’s no way they can jump down from the screen. UNLIKE THE HOUSE SPIDERS WE GET HERE. (Also: Australia, I love you dearly and I’ve always wanted to come and see you, but the thought of your ginormous [not to mention deadly] spiders terrifies me.)

Anyway, the film. It’s good. It’s really enjoyable, well done, well acted, and I like the more technical approach to the whole spider-thing. For instance, the spider webs he shoots out aren’t from some mutant glands, but is a proper gizmo, which makes it a little more credible, perhaps. Apparently, this is set to be the first in a trilogy of new Spider-Man films, and … well … I’m sure we’ll be back for the next one.

4 out of 5 lizards.

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