Swinging Low

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SPOILER WARNING

When Marvel decided to reboot the Spider-man films after the disastrous Spider-man 3 back in 2007, the choice of Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker in Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-man was met with some skepticism. The 2012 film wasn’t perfect by any means: its running time was too long and some of the CGI looked decidedly ropey. But Emma Stone was an inspired choice as Gwen Stacy and there was an interesting vulnerability to Garfield’s Peter Parker. Fast-forward to 2014 and we have Amazing Spider-man 2. Webb’s second Spider-man outing suffers from many of the same problems as the first film (it outstays its welcome by about forty minutes and Jamie Foxx’s Electro has a very poorly designed costume) but it is actually a far weaker film than its predecessor. Garfield’s Peter Parker has become cocky and rather arrogant and the inclusion of a second villain with a conclusion that foreshadows the inevitable introduction of the Sinister Six in a second sequel means that the film feels cluttered and dramatically all over the place. There are some nice touches when it comes to exploring Peter’s father’s scientist past but overall you are left shrugging your shoulders. Marvel’s decision to press the restart button on Spider-man was criticised as a pointless exercise and Amazing Spider-man 2 really makes you miss Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire. The sad thing is that with another sequel packed full of even more villains than you have here, the omens aren’t looking good that they’ll be able to reverse the drop in quality. In fact, it is becoming reminiscent of what Warners did with Batman when Joel Schumacher came on board. Amazing Spider-man 2 is bloated, uneven and mostly unengaging…

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A NEW SPIN?
It’s been five years since the disaster that was Spider-man 3 and so much has changed in the cinematic landscape that it was inevitable that Marvel would want to offer the world a different Spider-man to the one that Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire created in the three films last decade. It has been ten years since Raimi’s first Spider-man film and we’ve seen the successful big-screen transfer of Marvel creations like Thor, The Avengers and Captain America. The Amazing Spider-man, directed by Marc (500 Days of Summer) Webb has a different approach to Raimi: this film has a lighter and younger feel than Raimi’s efforts. Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker feels younger than Maguire’s portrayal and he even looks a little younger, even though in reality the actor is actually 28 years old. The story is the familiar one: Parker, losing his parents at a young age, he goes to live with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben (Sally Field and Martin Sheen, respectively). Parker is a science geek and finds himself in the offices of Oscorp, whose chief scientist Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) is searching for a way to regrow his lost arm via experiments with other species. Parker finds himself in one of their secret labs and unwittingly ends up being bitten by a radioactive spider. When his Uncle is cruelly murdered in a street robbery, Parker makes it his mission to use his newfound powers for good. Meanwhile, the desperate Connors turns his own experiments on himself with disastrous consequences. Director Webb has a lightness of touch here and Garfield plays the gawky Parker with style and panache. The supporting cast are also pretty decent including the gorgeous Emma Stone as police captain Stacy’s daughter Gwen and Dennis Leary as her father. Ifans was an intriguing choice to play Connors and he mostly carries it off. The action sequences are well-handled but the running time is about forty minutes too long and shaving a chunk off would have made it a stronger film and occasionally some of the swinging scenes look a little too artificial but these are minor quibbles. Feeling like a Saturday morning cartoon, The Amazing Spider-man has mostly removed the bad taste that Spider-man 3 left and set things up nicely for future cinema adventures with Parker. The 3D is pretty pointless however and cinemagoers should see it in 2D as the 3D lends nothing to the experience. It is slightly less sophisticated than Thor and Avengers (Assemble) but still worth seeing. Marvel have done what they needed to do to make Spider-man a viable Hollywood franchise again…