I have a theory that Andrew Garfield plus either an alga-rhythm or a pretty young lady makes for a good film. I base this on the fact that every film I have seen him in has one of those elements at least. The Amazing Spider-Man has both, and is therefore brilliant.
I was as skeptical as anyone else when I learnt there was going to be a new Spider-Man film so soon after the Toby Maguire series. The fears were entirely unfounded and the new film works well to avoid comparison. There are the obvious similarities in the opening story; we know that Peter Parker will be bitten by a genetically enhanced or radioactive spider and we know that Uncle Ben must die. Once those are out of the way the film works hard to avoid comparison in content and style. There was a nice bit of Parker family history thrown in amongst the opening scenes The love focus this time around is Gwen Stacey who if my comic book knowledge serves me correctly was always a lot sassier and challenging than Mary Jane Watson.
I don’t know if I’m just viewing Maguire’s Spiderman through the opposite of rose-tinted glasses (which I am dubbing shit-tinted glasses) but Garfield just makes the character a lot cooler. My lasting image of Maguire will be him sobbing like a baby, I believe that still image has since taken the Internet by storm as a meme (and i feel obliged to add it to the bottom of this post). The difference is that Garfield is a lot more likeable, he’s not completely disabled by his geeky ways, there are hints of it but he’s not at a complete loss like Maguire seemed, even the suit seems to fit better. I found myself gazing at him dreamily, wondering if anyone could make out my expression in the dark cinema before I had time to adjust it.
Emma Stone is also a welcome change as Gwen Stacey. Mary Jane was always just a massive cocktease so it’s nice to see Parker getting some attention without that beautiful bastard Harry Osborn jumping in and ruining everything. There’s always a worry with females in superhero films, if they don’t have any powers themselves they tend to be a bit dull, and just act as possible fodder for the male dominated field. That isn’t the case here. I think it helps that Emma Stone is a beautiful young woman, and has excellent comedy timing. There were times when I wasn’t sure which of them I wanted to replace so just ended up rigorously rubbing my own thighs like Vic Reeves.
Rhys Ifans is also noteworthy for his portrayal of Dr Curt Connors/The Lizard Trust a Brit to take on the bad guy role and you’re guaranteed a success. He cleverly harnesses a Jekyll/Hyde type performance to show that Connors ultimately does want to help and is a good person but gets wrapped up in doing it for the wrong reasons. It’s a positive angle when a lot of super-villains just seem content on smashing shit up for the sake of it.
One of the best elements of The Amazing Spider-Man is the first person shots of/as Spider-Man. It’s no secret that a lot of the appeal of the comics and films is the powers and seeing those firsthand was an excellent call by the filmmakers. The magic of the film is that it manages to maintain a 12A certificate whilst keeping me entertained for over two hours, it shows that films can be clever and cool without excessive violence, gore and language.