Everybody’s friendly neighbourhood Spiderman slings back into cinemas this week with the latest movie in the hit comic book series. For those not in the know, The Amazing Spiderman does not bear any connection to the three previous Spiderman films that starred Tobey Maguire. Marvel have decided to start all over again this time with director of 500 Days of Summer Marc Webb *insert Pun here* at the helm. With an all new cast and production team, Peter Parker played by British actor Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus) must learn to live life and cope with the everyday troubles of being a teenager whilst simultaneously trying to protect the city of New York from a monstrous genetically mutated man-lizard. Seems all in a days work for our hero…but apparently not.
Because the latest instalment of Spiderman films were so recent it is and will be very hard for audiences to view this film without comparing it to the last. Whilst some things are better some things are not. The two main characters Parker and the mandatory Hollywood Damsel Gwen Stacey played superbly by Emma Stone (Superbad, Easy A) give defining performances, we genuinely feel for them as people. The same however, cannot be said for the rest of the cast. Whilst it seems that the focus has been placed on the male and female lead, the rest of the characters suffer. The stereotyped chief of police appears to command a lot of authority and respect but there are just simply no grounds to back this up and instead his character comes off as rude and un-interesting; the scientist/lizard antagonist Dr. Carl Connors (Ifans) is distant and creepy from the outset of the film so we do not care for his lifelong plight to use genetics and science to fix himself and his missing limbs. The biggest crime for me, however, is the obvious lack of lines, development, and just flat out screen time dear old Aunt May (a Spiderman staple) has.
These are but very minor problems. Some of the real issues develop when it comes to gaping holes in the narrative. The first comes when Parker is attempting to sneak into Oscorp’s high-tech biological research facility with some of the most dangerous rare and expensive equipment on the planet. After watching an official enter a specific complicated touch screen codec to gain access to a room the hero seemly walks up and repeats the same process to gain entry…even though the official had a security pass for the door. The second instance is when Gwen (an intern supervisor for Oscorp), whilst still at school trying to get her grades is allowed access to biological weapons without authorisation and contestation. Small elements like this really let the film down (and take my word there are more).
Incey wincey can crawl up the waterspout, though. Garfield acts as a much more relatable and realistic Parker than Maguire did through all 3 of his Arachnid films. Small conventions that the first films missed out on such as web capsules that our hero uses to traverse the skyline of New York city make a return which stays true to the original comic book and cartoon series which will no doubt please die-hard fans and of course the inclusion of Lizard, one of if not the best and most emotionally intricate Villains from the Marvel universe is presented to us in absolutely beautiful state of the art special effects. Every scale, every humungous ivory claw is shown in intricate detail. Another fantastic feature of this film is the action scenes. The point of view shots of Spidey slinging around the city are something that has never been seen before and the crisp clarity and choreography of the fight scenes are really something, and in those moments the benign plot holes don’t really matter.
Overall a good quality Hollywood film. Keep an eye out for another hilarious Stan Lee cameo and make sure you stay for the credits…can anybody say sequel? A solid 3½ stars for Mr Parker and his reptilian friend, but this summer it may well be the case of the spider being overshadowed by a certain bat.