Amazing Spider-Man reboot adds rom-com to comic caper

Jul 6, 2012

Andrew Garfield makes an appealing Spider-Man, but was it too soon for another remake?

What you need to know
Superhero blockbuster The Amazing Spider-Man is based on the Marvel comics and directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer). Following the three Spider-Man movies directed by Sam Raimi over the past decade, this new film takes us back to the origins of Spider-Man.

The story revolves around Peter, a teenage social outcast trying to solve the mystery of his past and the parents who abandoned him. When he discovers a briefcase that once belonged to his father, the trail leads him to the lab of his dad's former partner Dr. Curt Connors, and his monstrous alter ego the Lizard.

Andrew Garfield (The Social NetworkNever Let Me Go) is Peter Parker. Emma Stone (The Help) plays Gwen Stacy, Peter's high school classmate and love interest. Rhys Ifans is Dr. Curt Connors. There are also appearances from Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Peter's aunt and uncle, and comedian Denis Leary as Gwen's father.

What the critics like
Five years after Spider-Man 3, the series gets off the ground again with "a smarter, leaner and more interesting 'origin' storyline", says Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. The casting is just right. "Andrew Garfield feels like the definitive Spider-Man" and Rhys Ifans is "a terrific Spidey villain". The "sheer exhilarating spectacle of Spider-Man launched again through the city" is great.

Superheroes have gone romcom, says Jason Solomons in The Observer. Marc Webb brings a touch of high school sweetness to his new spin on Spider-Man. Casting the likable Emma Stone was a slick move, and Andrew Garfield "rises to the challenge of mooning over her while bantering with a giant lizard and trussing up numerous hoodlums".

Amazing Spider-Man owes more to Twilight than anyone in a costume and cape, says Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph. This is the first superhero movie aimed primarily at women. There's still plenty of blockbuster testosterone and enough "bungee-swinging through Manhattan's concrete canyons to satisfy thrill-seekers of either sex". But the plot "rests almost entirely on the romance between his two leads". Twilight in spandex perhaps?

What they don't like
Webb's take on Marvel's famous web-slinger struggles to justify the "tear-up-and-start-again approach", says Seb Patrick for Film 4. If we hadn't seen Spider-Man onscreen for decades, perhaps the refresher would be necessary, but the major plot points (outsider nerd, loving adoptive family, mutated spider bite) "are iconic enough that they could have been dispensed with in an opening montage".

This is solid rather than spectacular blockbuster filmmaking, says Ian Freer in Empire. It is a rare comic-book flick that is "better at examining relationships than superheroism". It delivers a different enough, enjoyable enough story, but "doesn't approach the current benchmark of Avengers Assemble".

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