Wednesday, 4 July 2012

REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man

Dir.: Marc Webb
With: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans

Despite the fact that the decision to re-start a franchise only 5 years after its last instalment puzzled many,  ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is, indeed, amazing. The main reason for that is Andrew Garfield (I've liked him since 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' he he he), who simply happens to have a little more presence and is more likeable than Toby Maguire. When you compare the two actors, Andrew Garfield possesses more warmth and his puppy eyes have a glimmer of wit in them; Toby’s Peter Parker was colder, less sensitive to the emotions of others and I for one could never really sympathise with him much.

Likewise, the decision to cast someone younger and focus on Peter Parker’s high school days was a good one – on top of the standard Spidey troubles, this adolescent Peter has his raging hormones to deal with. Andrew Garfield, albeit being almost 10 years older than his character, portrays the lanky, moody youth brilliantly. Although he undoubtedly had to bulk up for the role, he remained lanky and wiry, and has the air of a 16-year-old who had an unexpected growth spurt and is still unsure how to move about in this new body. This makes the scenes with him testing out his new powers, often to hilarious ends, particularly enjoyable.

The film boasts an intelligent and coherent script and is truly entertaining, especially during its first two-thirds, before it culminates in a standard super-hero hullabaloo. The director, Marc Webb (his previous film was ‘500 Days of Summer’), borrows heavily from other genres: there is an interesting and convincing love story between Peter and Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone), and here the girl is not just a damsel in distress, but a sharp and active participant, then there is an element of horror – in particular in Peter’s transformation scene that reminded me of Cronenberg’s ‘The Fly’, comedy, drama (mostly delivered by Martin Sheen who makes a great Uncle Ben) and, of course, good, old 3-D action and  the streets of New York from birdview.

The Spider-Man epos has not lost its attraction. I think the reason for that is the character’s humanity and humility; he is a normal, brainy kid with enormous powers and responsibilities thrust upon him. In contrast to Batman, Superman and the rest, Peter Parker is simply a nice boy, imperfect and sometimes too emotional, yet he is the most understandable and sympathetic of all the super-heroes.

Also, let me tell you a secret how to enjoy a film like this to the max – take a child with you to the cinema (borrow one if you have to). They’ll be eternally grateful and you’ll be able to see the story through their eyes. My brother, who went with me, watched the film so hungrily and in such a state of awe, it was absolutely infectious. In the end he clapped with so much enthusiasm, and when I teased him about it, he said ‘you’re supposed to do that when you’ve really liked something, don’t you know?!’