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Amazing Spider-Man, The (3D) (AF)


Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan, Chris Zylka

Director: Marc Webb

Reboots save Hollywood studios from having to come up with new ideas: concepts that worked before should work again and, armed with a new skinnier-than-Tobey Maguire web-slinging hero in Garfield (the actor, not the animated cat!) the franchise is entertainingly revived.

The screenplay (James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves) plays fair with the character’s comic book genesis. Garfield lives with uncle Sheen and aunt (near unrecognisable Sally Field), mourns his father’s death, and faces traditional high school bullies while tentatively romancing classmate Stone. The catalyst that transforms the gawky 17-year-old is Garfield’s discovery of his father’s mysterious briefcase which leads him to scientist Ifans’ high-tech laboratories and a bite from a genetically altered spider which endows him with super-strength, which he vividly demonstrates when thugs attack him on the subway,

And soon a new masked vigilante swings through the canyons of Manhattan with Garfield setting out to avenge the murder of Sheen, killed by hoodlums, and finally taking on hideously mutated Ifans who transforms into a repulsive giant reptile high up on a skyscraper…

Appropriately-named director Webb drives the drama at a satisfyingly smart pace, combining vigorous action with well-integrated humour and nicely created teenage romance and armed with unexpectedly effective 3D cinematography (John Schwartzman), impressive production design (J. Michael Riva) and excellent special effects that enable Garfield to become a swinging hero who makes Tarzan seem arthritic by comparison.

Garfield and Stone strike exactly the right notes and Ifans clearly relishes his villainous role. It says much for the key performers that they are not overwhelmed by the movie magic that showcases them.

Franchise revived!

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Sony. Colour by deluxe.
136 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 29 Jun 2012