Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Dennis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan, Chris Zylka, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, C. Thomas Howell, Hannah Marks, Stan Lee.
Oh what a tangled web we weave…
Spider-Man is dead…long live Spider-Man…The latest Marvel comic book adaptation is an old familiar favourite, so familiar that it’s just about a decade ago since the world was introduced to the world’s best web-slinger in the form of Toby McGuire.
To fans of American comic books, no matter whether if the might of Marvel, the cool of D.C. or any of the smaller independents, any adaptation is usually a good thing, with a small number of badly produced, over acted exceptions, the comic book franchise has never been more healthy. What might surprise those who have kept away from the trailers, the buzz and the tremendous but duly deserved hype is that every character that Spider-Man has given the public over the last decade has been replaced or left out completely. Instead of Toby McGuire, we now have Andrew Garfield. Instead of the lovely Mary Jane Watson played with such flame haired precision by Kirsten Dunst, we now have the exceptional Emma Stone portraying Peter Parker’s other love, the invaluable Gwen Stacy and most of all, the crowning glory of people left out of the story line is the majesty of The Daily Bugle’s owner, the sarcastic, bitter and enjoyable J. Jonah Jameson.
However before you bombard Sony, who unfortunately own the rights ahead of the men who created one of the best comic book heroes of all time, with phone calls and emails and demand that these essential actors and characters are placed back in time for the obvious sequel…wait a minute, for Andrew Garfield works well in this re-boot, his portrayal is slightly closer to angry, sarcastic wit ready Peter Parker that older fans of the comic book will remember. His take is not only enjoyable but ruthlessly dedicated to the cause and in all honesty he captures the essence of what it means to be Spider-Man, to have great responsibility thrust upon his young shoulders, more than Toby McGuire was able to portray.
Sony have gone back to the beginning, although still not as accurate as comic lovers would like, and given the series a makeover, a new lease of life before the corpse of the old franchise has had time to rest in peace. The geeky teenager is replaced with the bullied but noble loner who is in the wrong place at the right time and who rather than fighting an egotistical madman who has lost the plot, in a similar way that those who allowed The Hulk films to be released, and instead takes on a man whose vision is honourable but who gets corrupted by the power he receives. Instead of the rather excellent Willem Defoe as the Green Goblin we have the equally impressive Rhys Ifans as the rather good Lizard. If filmed a few years ago, the technology would have made this inclusion of the character looking like a cross between The Hulk and one of the alien visitors in the 1980’s sci-fi series V.
However with great power at their command, the people who run the C.G.I. magic for these films have a great responsibility to capture the creature at its most frightening, most devastating best and in this, they truly deliver.
The film captures the youthful exuberance of the early days of Spider-Man but also the passion and regret at the passing of his beloved Uncle Ben played with much more heart by the ever ultra-cool Martin Sheen.
It is to be said that this year there is an abundance of comic book heroes making the big screen their home, audiences have already been enthralled by The Avengers and they have the final Bat Man film to come in a few weeks but for now there is a new web-slinger in town and his name is The Amazing Spider-Man.
Ian D. Hall