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The Amazing Spiderman

Before it came out I had my doubts over The Amazing Spiderman. It’s not that I’m having superhero fatigue, but was the world really crying out for the another Spiderman origin story only 10 years after Sam Rami’s Spiderman first hit our screen? Well whether we want it or not it’s here.

For those who don’t know, where have you been? Andrew Garfield is Peter Parker a high school genius who lives with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May after his parents mysteriously disappeared. He’s a loner, getting bullied by a guy called Flash (really and Peter’s the one getting beaten up?) and in love with a girl called Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone). Trying to find out more about his parents he visits his father’s co-worker Dr Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans) at Oscorp and ends up getting bitten by a genetically modified spider. This leads to amazing superpowers. After his uncle’s death at the hands of a criminal he sets out to find the killer and along the way become a hero.

The Amazing Spiderman is not a radical reinterpretation of the Spiderman franchise. A lot of the same points are revisited, the spider bite, discovery of new powers, Uncle Ben’s death, Peter’s guilt etc. But this film has two Aces in its pack and those are Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Garfield is a loveable ball of nervous energy; his Peter is lanky, awkward and funny. I was a big fan of Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker and I was afraid it was going to be a tough act to follow. Luckily Garfield is a likeable Peter, getting the audience’s sympathy even when he’s acting out against his long suffering Aunt May.

Stone is engaging in a role which could easily have been two dimensional. She’s a girl who is clearly smitten with Peter but doesn’t build her whole life around him. She’s allowed to be smart and feisty and manages to avoid the typical girl in peril role. We see that she has just as strong a moral centre as Peter and able to make her own decisions when the danger sets in.

The film’s strongest scenes are those involving Peter and Gwen. Luckily Peter reveals his secret to Gwen fairly early which makes for a more interesting, equal dynamic rather than the tired I-have-to keep-this-a-secret-to-protect-my-loved-ones old story. The two of them together have great chemistry (one that spilt over to off screen) and it’s a lovely romance to be watching.

Not that The Amazing Spiderman is lacking in action. Peter has a lot to face with Conner turning into an evil Lizard (another experiment gone wrong) which leads to some great set pieces, one on a the   bridge and another at the film’s climax. This Spiderman is also a lot more snarky in this film which will please those who enjoy Spiderman’s quips in the comics.

The only thing really failing this film is that it does have to start at the beginning again. Sometimes it feels like we’re rehashing old ground just with a new cast. Although it throws up a few different things such as the mystery behind Peter’s parents but then there’s few revelations to this at the end of the film. Just a few tantalising hints which one guesses they’ll explore further in future films. Something that I’m surprisingly looking forward to.

Total score 4 out of 5

A good film boosted by smart casting choices that leaves me highly anticipating the next instalment.


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Spiderman-To Reboot Or Not To Reboot

As I’ll be watching The Amazing Spiderman film this week it’s got me thinking about whether Spiderman really needs a reboot?  Is it necessary to keep the franchise fresh or just an excuse to make more money for studio bosses?

Personally I love the first two Spiderman films. I thought Toby Maguire was fantastic in the role of Peter Parker and had great chemistry with Kristen Dunst as Mary-Jane. Overall the films were filled with great action sequences (especially the train scene in the second movie) as well as a satisfying emotional journey for the characters.

Not that Sam Rami’s Spiderman films were flawless. Mary-Jane got more annoying with each film and the third film suffered from too many villains and wasting the potentially great character of Venom. Despite this I was sad when I heard Sam Rami and co would not be returning for another spin of the web (sorry I had to have one rubbish pun). Then hearing that another Spiderman film was due to be released rebooting the franchise to have Peter Parker back at school had me worried.

I have nothing against remakes/reboots in general. As long as they have something new to say about the concept they’re remaking. After the cheesy Batman and Robin the Batman franchise was in need of a facelift (although I have to say the film is a guilty pleasure of mine). Christopher Nolan put his own stamp on the franchise drawing inspiration from the classic comic books such as Batman: Year One to give us a darker Gotham, grounded in realism for the new Batman to inhabit.

For a remake or reboot to work I think a director has to carefully put his own style and creativity into the film, adding something fresh to the mix, a new perspective on the characters or making it relevant for a new generation of filmgoers, without forgetting what makes people love the original in the first place. This is not an easy task especially with audience expectations so high and studio meddling often involved.

Sometimes a film doesn’t need remaking. Case in point John Carpenter’s The Thing. Itself already a brilliant remake of The Thing From Out of Space. Last year’s remake/prequel of The Thing was just a waste of time (note to movie studios-if you’re lucky to get one excellent remake of a film what are the chances of it happening with a remake of a remake? Sorry remake/‘prequel’.)

Now Spiderman 3 wasn’t great but it was no Batman and Robin. I’m not against another Spiderman sequel but does it really need another origin story so soon? Couldn’t it have just been Spiderman 4 with a new director and actor? Or is the only option for a fresh take is to go the Nolan way and to start at the beginning?

There are good signs with this film. The leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are two of my favourite rising stars. Check out Garfield in brooding form in the first episode of tv series Red Riding or Stone’s hilarious turn in Easy A for evidence they deserve the success Spiderman could give them. I think Garfield could make a wonderfully geeky Peter Parker and Stone has enough presence to be more than just the ‘love interest’. It also bodes well that the director Marc Webb made 500 Days of Summer (go see it-Joseph Gordon Levitt is brilliant).

Still I can’t help but not feel overly excited by the prospect of seeing The Amazing Spiderman. With this film coming after the funny and exciting Avengers Assembled and with the hotly anticipated The Dark Knight Rise still to come, is there enough room for a third superhero film to share the spotlight this year?

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