x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The Amazing Spider-Man: Not that amazing

Film Review The latest Spider-Man has some good stuff but nothing you haven't seen before, including an unimaginative villain.

The Amazing Spider-Man
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
**

It was inevitable that once director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire decided they would not return for a fourth instalment of their Spider-Man franchise that the studio would commission a remake. After all, billion-dollar franchises are as hard to come by as superpowers.

So only a decade after the first part of Raimi's trilogy comes a Spider-Man reboot, with Maguire replaced by the British actor Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker.

In keeping with the original comic series, the object of Parker's affection reverts to being the high school sweetheart Gwen Stacy (Stone, beguiling) rather than Mary Jane Watson.

The biggest and most risky decision was putting the 500 Days of Summer director Webb in the director's chair. It's a gamble that doesn't pay off. Unsurprisingly, given his quirky romcom past, Webb is more comfortable when developing characters, handling comedy and dealing with the relationship aspect of the story than he is with special effects. The best scenes take place in the high school.

Garfield initially excels as a science geek struggling to cope with the death of his parents and the moral upbringing of his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen is perfectly cast). Parker is more culpable in the death of his uncle than in Raimi's version and initially, his superhero is motivated by revenge rather than goodwill. All great, but stuff we've seen before. Where Webb falls short is in the story of Dr Curt Connors and his super-villain persona The Lizard. In the comic, he's a Jekyll and Hyde figure, good or bad dependent upon his guise, yet here, he's just a mad scientist gone power crazy. Ifans overcooks the role. By contrast, Dennis Leary as Stacy's cop dad is a shining light. Ultimately, this is a by-the-numbers supehero reboot where the only thing super about it is that it feels superfluous.