The Amazing Spider-Man
In cinemas on Tuesday
Considering that there are 16 trailers for “The Amazing Spider-Man” on the Apple trailer website and the abundance of coverage about the film, its cast and Sony’s perhaps-too-soon reboot of the franchise, I honestly thought I would walk into the film getting exactly what I expected. Marc Webb’s “(500) Days of Summer” is easily one of my favorite films for its irreverent tone and style and music and dork factor. All that loveliness aside, when directors break out and are thrown into the deep end of the summer tentpole pool, they can often drown in the brand they have been hired to deliver to the world – again.
While there are no animated birds or dance numbers or other quirks that defined his debut, there is a lot of heart to this film (which unfortunately gets no play in the adverts since the big green monster is what sells tickets). More than any of the previous incarnations, this Spider-Man is a coming-of-age story. It’s real and honest and thankfully not built on stereotypes (but they are certainly there – this is high school after all). This new origin story has a wonderful balance between CGI spectacle in glorious IMAX 3D and genuine humanity – which makes it one of the best superhero movies of the past decade.
Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is more loveable nerd than boy next door. He’s a little goofy and sensitive and certainly a stand-up guy (who can’t quite stand up for himself). And then there’s the part where he gets bit by the spider in the lab and proceeds to fall for the girl as he comes to terms with his new powers and cope with the loss of the uncle who raised him. That part remains the same. Emma Stone plays Gwen – the smarty-pants love interest, while the nefarious scientist is Rhys Ifans, and the images that unravel are not dissimilar to those we recall from the Tobey Maguire days. We expect the beast and the swinging from cobwebs, but the human interaction is more layered here than it ever has been. That’s thanks in part to a screenplay by James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves, and in part because Webb allows the moments to unfold before our eyes. There are styled bits where Peter is getting used to his new body as kind of a parkour attacking criminals in the night, or on the high school basketball court (which is amazing) and there are simpler, quieter bits like when Peter asks Gwen out on a date – there’s very little to the scene but all the beats are perfect and it’s so smooth we feel like this all happened on the first take, because how could any two actors possibly repeat a moment so perfect?
If there is any criticism on my part it’s the damn swinging from the cobwebs. I get that it’s Spidey’s trademark move, but on the next round (we are, of course, prepared for a sequel) can we try something else? I think there’s a marriage to be made with CGI and a stunt double from Cirque du Soleil. So, let’s try that, because Garfield and Stone have nailed it and we can’t mess with the foundation they’ve laid that’s brought new life to the world of Peter Parker.