Squeezing into the skin-tight Spider-Man bodysuit vacated by Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield does an excellent job as the geeky teenager who turns into a web-slinging superhero in The Amazing Spider-Man, but the action that surrounds him in the latest screen adventure for Marvel Comics’ masked do-gooder lacks the exhilarating zip of Maguire’s first outing back in 2002.
It’s only been five years since the (disappointing) final film in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy with Maguire, but new director Marc Webb returns to the beginning for a fresh take on the character’s origins. So it’s back to school for Garfield’s nerdy science whiz Peter Parker, who goes from bullied wimp to wiry hero after being bitten by a genetically modified spider.
As Peter grapples with his new powers, much to the puzzled consternation of his Uncle Ben and Aunt May (Martin Sheen and Sally Field, both endearing), Garfield is in his element, a moody teenager churning with angst and anger. And his courtship of schoolmate Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone, Garfield’s real-life girlfriend) is full of spark too – as you’d expect with Webb, maker of offbeat rom-com (500) Days of Summer, at the helm.
But when Spider-Man starts swooping across the New York skyline on his nocturnal strikes against the city’s ne’er do wells, his escapades fail to send the viewer soaring. We’ve simply seen too much comic-book action over the past decade for any novelty to remain and Webb fails to raise the bar any further. The film’s 3D is frankly underwhelming and so is the story’s chief villain, the giant lizard into which Rhys Ifans’ one-armed scientist Dr Curt Connors transforms while trying to crack animal-to-human gene transplantation. Spidey’s final skyscraper-busting showdown with the Lizard has its thrills but, like the film itself, it’s good but not amazing.
On general release from Tuesday 3rd July.
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