Many a shaken head remarked on the relatively quick retelling of The Webslinger’s origins, but this new untold story manages to do enough new, and more of the same as Spiderman begins again.
Re-launching only ten years after 2002’s Spiderman, Andrew Garfield suits up this time to bring a better Spidy, bringing a real boyish vulnerability, but far more significantly, his skinny, semi muscular physique fits perfectly into the red and blue suit, no longer requiring the need to suspend disbelief that a double has donned the spider suit.
Garfield’s wiry frame flows effortlessly from a skateboarding modish geek into a highflying superhero, convincing equally as both alter egos with a cooler take on Peter Parker and a springier, wisecracking Spidy.
Pulling greater emotional heft, all sorrowfully filled with the new “untold story” of his parents’ departure bugging him, this Peter’s anguish is fuelled, understandably, by perceived parental abandonment, (the slightly told, untold story) rather than boring teenage woes and adolescent change.
Adding a welcome distraction from the mercifully slight teenage angst is Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey, far cooler too, a clever, sassy new love interest providing real dynamite chemistry, without the over gooey melodrama of McGuire’s Peter and Dunst’s Mary Jane.
Mary Jane’s melancholy gives way to Gwen’s far more grounded, and in fairness, a more privileged lifestyle and Oscorp internship, reasons indeed to be a more cheerful teen. The focus is on hipper likeable kids and it works to make Amazing, cooler.
Just when we seem to be swinging through the same rarefied air of Spiderman, with an identical first half bringing fears of an inferior re-tread, this latest webslinging adventure begins to spin its own story swinging from the reset origin to a frantic second half of sporadic battles with nemesis The Lizard.
The shift from story setting to all out action is too swift and skips a vital superhero element; Rhys Ifan’s Jekyll and Hydian turn as Dr. Curt Connors aka The Lizard is sufficiently malevolent but a rushed development and a rapid turn to the dark side doesn’t quite create a truly great superhero villain that The Lizard should have been; Some effective, but by modern standards, unremarkable CG provides some awesome action but fashions a more fantastical enemy rather than a living, breathing beast.
Spidy’s and The Lizard’s tussles are probably too few; a first bridge encounter is wasted as the webhead is pulled away from a potentially great set piece to save a luckless kid from a dangling car, echoing the sadistic choice set piece of Spiderman, but subsequent encounters provide more bang for the buck as the full action repertoire is unleashed in good old spidy style, with wisecracking and one liners adding comedy as only spidy can.
Director Marc Webb unexpectedly shows he can deliver action, with no real action credentials on his portfolio so far, with a fantastic finale that kicks off with a brilliant swing from high rise crane to crane, where NY’s citizens aid our hero, in the same spirit of Spiderman 2’s subway train piece.
A cooler, less melancholy take on Spidy’s origin with a smart, sexy lead love in and a fabulous high rise finale, Spiderman begins again to re-launch a staple franchise in an era of hero supersaturation.
It could have continued from the established thread, but justifies its re-beginning with a differing enough origin and Garfield’s fantastic new Spiderman.
The Amazing Spiderman is no less or more amazing than what has come before. It’s safe to say there’s more to come (wait for the credits).