Leaping back onto our screen with fresh faces and a whole new array of daddy issues, The Amazing Spiderman spins a web of emotional depth, a plethora of comedic touches and that eminent marvel action. One hardly needs spidey senses to see that this top-grossing Marvel franchise has re-emerged with altogether amazing results.
This webslinging flick, which we are forced to call a “reboot”, tinkers extensively with the story. Yes- the gear-shift in this superhero movie is palpable; with The Amazing Spiderman creeping in as an edgy, risk-taking drama, doing more than just paying lip-service to its characters’ emotional lives.
Directed by Marc Webb (no pun intended), this somewhat darker depiction of your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman interleaves a touching portrayal of adolescent angst into an otherwise conventional bout of Marvel’s CGI-fuelled action.
After opening with an analepsis, where young Parker is suddenly and mysteriously entrusted to his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), we are thrust into the present, suffering a few obligatory high school humiliations with our misfitted teenage Peter (Andrew Garfield) – now a lanky nerd and brooding skater with an eye for photography and heart-throb, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).
But Peter’s not just bitten by the love-bug, you know how the story goes; it is when an arachnid clambers onto Peter Parker at the Oscorp lab that he turns half spider, half man: Spiderman. And after a spout of emotional trials, damsels in distress and reptile men scaling tower buildings he becomes more than the masked anarchist – he becomes our hero.
And boy does Andrew Garfield fit the role like a spandex glove; he is endlessly charming, effortlessly gorgeous, outrageously gallant and dexterously relatable. Garfield brings a genial unflappability that allows him to parley the often farcical demands of the superhero plotline. And his love interest, Emma Stone, played a smart and sensual Gwen proving this won’t be her last “big budget” film.
Both leads deliver the goods and combine a frisky sense of first love amongst the movie’s gloomier arc, but the support of outstanding performances by Martin Sheen as the heart-wrenching Uncle Ben, Rhys Ifans’ villainous reptile scientist and Denis Leary as Gwen’s over protective policeman-dad help weave the film together.
Webb’s film is slow on plot and skimpy on character development – apart from the one that counts. But he shows an unarguable capacity for the more traditional action rudiments of the superhero story; pulling off nauseating shots of the masked do-gooder rescuing kiddies from falling cars, diving from soaring skyscrapers and the like. And those looking for a deeper shading of Parker’s emotional make-up will no doubt be pleased to see him (and joining in) wiping a falling tear at Sheen and Leary’s deaths.
It is the successful synthesis of both action and emotion that makes The Amazing Spiderman as pleasurable as it is inspiring; Webb’s control of light and shade is near flawless with a film switching from teenage broods to elating airborne pyrotechnics in near minutes.
Here’s one writer an insee winsey bit in love with The Amazing Spiderman.