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The Amazing Spider-Man 3D (12A)

Rachel Winterbottom fantasizes about arachnophilia

Published on July 9th 2012.

The Amazing Spider-Man 3D (12A)

REBOOT. Re-do. Reimagining.

However they try and spin it, film studios will always overhaul our beloved films for a chance to reach new audiences/milk a franchise for all it's worth. In the case of Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire's 2002 superhero film Spider-Man, the remake was announced while audiences were still reeling from the disappointment of Spider-Man 3. The key question is: does the film offer us anything new?

The youth angle is what really separates this film from its predecessors. As a remake, it feels worthwhile.

For The Amazing Spider-Man, it is back to formula (hence the use of Stan Lee’s original comic's title). The teenaged Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is in high school and still grieving the deaths of his parents, which left him in the care of Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) from a young age. A loner (but not a hopeless geek), Parker juggles the usual teenage tropes: bullies, homework, his crush on the beautiful Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

That is until he digs into his father's past, meets his old colleague Dr Connors (Rhys Ifans), a specialist in genetics at Oscorp, and gets bitten by a genetically modified spider that gives him spider-like abilities. Parker is initially consumed with getting his own back on the school bully and becoming closer to the police captain's daughter, Gwen.

But when his uncle is killed and Dr Connors' experiments with lizard DNA and re-growing his missing arm go terribly wrong, Parker dons the red and blue spandex and turns into a web-slinging vigilante.

Hey, boyfriend, what about using the door?Hey, boyfriend, what about using the door?

Despite having a scriptwriter on board from Raimi's trilogy (Alvin Sargent), director Marc Webb (how apt) has clearly made a conscious effort to deviate from the storylines in those films. He has been reasonably successful, even though he is inevitably hampered through the use of the same source material.

There are obvious changes: a focus on the mystery behind the death of Parker's parents, Gwen Stacy instead of MJ, home-made web-shooters instead of conveniently genetically mutated ones. However, at times, Webb's film plays one-upmanship with Raimi's. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The subway scene where Parker first realises the extent of his transformation is sublime. The 3D might be a largely superfluous vanity, but it does enhance the superb web-slinging action (although disappointingly you're never in danger of getting web in your face).

Having directed quirky romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer, Webb is adept at bittersweet humour. Where Raimi's Spider-Man sometimes verged on the slapstick, Webb has gone for the ‘darker’ hero tradition of late and expertly uses comedy to humanise his hero and lift his film out of the gloom.

Emma Stone is an asset to this remake. She might have toned down her usual quick-fire wit for the role, but her naturalistic style elevates her part from what could have been just your standard female love interest.

The onscreen chemistry between Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire was the root of the original trilogy's success. Amazingly, Webb's version doesn't pale in comparison; the sweet and fumbling romance between Stone and Garfield's couple brings an engaging realism to this superhero film.

Garfield is this film's other strength. After his BAFTA-winning performance in Boy A and his breakthrough part as the jilted friend in The Social Network, Garfield's talent has added depth to this iconic role. When Parker's world is thrown into sharp relief following the death of his uncle, Garfield ensures that the boy hero's grief is palpable and that the audience will never lose sight of how young Spider-Man is.

The youth angle is what really separates this film from its predecessors. Action takes place in the high school halls. Romance is compromised because of parental dissent. Spider-Man is forced to hide his cuts and bruises from his doting aunt. As a remake, it feels worthwhile.

This film's true fault lies with its villain. Ifans is a great character actor (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Neverland), but the colour he brings to his role cannot make up for this run-of-the-mill Big Bad. The Lizard's plans barely come to fruition and his motivations feel like an afterthought. It doesn't help that he follows the same good guy gone bad path of all of screen Spider-Man's nemeses.

Thankfully, this does not detract from the fact that Marc Webb has delivered a hugely entertaining, emotionally wrought first instalment for his trilogy.

Rating: 8/10

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