A mere 5 years after the release of the luke-warm received third outing of the friendly neighbourhood's Spider-Man, the arrival of the web-slingers reboot has, not surprisingly, met with some resistance from the fans. "Too soon" came the cry across the Internet as the memory of director Sam Raimi and Tobey Maquire's Peter Parker still echoed around the minds and DVD players of people everywhere.
And, the thing is, for once, they're not that wrong. For anyone who has watched and liked any of the three Raimi-led adventures that spanned from 2002 through to 2007, there may be a definite feeling of deja-vu being served up by the new team of director Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield's Peter interpretation. The effects may have moved on in leaps and bounds - and trust me, there are leaps and bounds a-plenty to be seen throughout its 136 minute running time - but the story and its staging have not.
Sometimes its not fair to make comparisons, but some films just seem to call upon you to do so. When Nolan's Batman Begins arrived, no one sat and compared it to or thought about Burton's earlier franchise reboot simply titled Batman - 16 years separated them and also a totally different approach to not only the telling of the story, but the actual storyline itself. Those two major factors stopped all comparisons until The Dark Knight allowed people to compare Nicholson's original Joker with Ledger's depiction. Here though, the luxury and the sanity of those two fundamental factors, have been somewhat over-looked.
Webb, who delivered the wonderful (500) Days Of Summer showed that love in all its forms - doomed, destined, demented, demanding - was something that he was adept at portraying. This has not left him as the love story aspect of The Amazing Spider-Man comes through strong and thusly very engaging. Garfield's Parker isn't as nerdy as Maquire and Stone's Gwen is more alongside Dunst's love-interest Mary-Jane rather than Bryce-Howard's throw-away Gwen, but when the two share the screen together, they almost make you forget that upside-down kiss in the rain....almost! Garfield nails the awkward teenage boy asking the hot girl out at the beginning, but all-too-soon his shy side seems to disappear only to be replaced with a fairly confident man who has no persecution from the press or the Police for that long - no J.J. and The Daily Bugle to help keep him grounded and on his toes here, and Leary's Captain Stacy hardly works up a sweat for the vigilante. That level of confidence took Maquire 3 outings to reach, and even then it was enhanced through a dangerous black-slimed Spidey suit.
Comedy is on-hand to help speed the proceedings along with most of it aimed at Garfield's reaction to his new powers - the crushing of an alarm-clock, the impossible task of applying tooth paste to a brush whilst half asleep, the knocking people out that want to cause him harm and apologising to them whilst doing so - which is then replaced with borderline cockiness - the "you've found my weakness - it's small knives!" line as he gets to grips (mostly on walls) with his abilities.
All this however is just smoke and mirrors to those who want to see a Summer Blockbuster and not some version of (500) Days Of Spidey - it's an adventure film with a superhero battling a big bad villain. Which is where Webb and co run out of steam alittle. Ifans' Lizard makes its appearance quite late in the day and never seems that hell-bent on destroying our hero - their eventual fights seems more perfunctory rather than prolific. The action sequences are good but that's not what most people will want after handing over their cash to the box-office... the likes of Avengers Assemble, Iron Man, Thor and The Dark Knight have all raised their own respective bars in the action-stakes and the ones here seem adequate as opposed to Amazing. And who wants to see The Adequate Spider-Man?
So, it's good but it needed to be better than that to comfortably sit apart from its slightly older sibling rather than squat in its shadow. The rally of the New York populace to Spider-Man and his plight to save them that featured in Spider-Man 2 gets a pale imitation here which has less of an impact since no one is really against him apart from The Lizard so why should we find it that stirring then? Oh, and the main reason why this has been advertised as a new beginning to the Spider-Man story where we find out that Peter Parker's parents had a secret that led him to becoming essentially orphaned and ending up with Uncle Ben and Aunt May - forgotten about and then ignored until a snippet that occurs during the end credits (so don't leave straight away if you see the set-up for the inevitable sequel.)
For those who have never seen the recent original trilogy, you will be pleased and in some places, awed at what Webb has done. For those of you who have seen AND liked them, you will find yourself mentally ticking off the comparisons whilst doing the occasional good laugh (Stan Lee's obligatory cameo is fantastic this time round) and semi-smile through-out. With new franchise comes great responsibility.... MUST. TRY. HARDER.
UK release date: 03.07.12