When: Wednesday, 4 July - Saturday, 4 August
Where: Various Cinemas, Auckland
How much: Various
For a town as superstitious as Hollywood, having The Amazing Spider-Man directed by a guy named ‘Webb’ could only have been a good sign. Given his last film was also the critically acclaimed 500 Days of Summer, you can see why Columbia Pictures was eager to rush his reboot into production despite it being only five years since Tobey Maguire donned the lycra for Sam Raimi’s trilogy. All the same, it begs the question: did we really need this movie?
And the short answer is ‘no’, particularly when the plot bears so much similarity to the first Raimi film of 2002. However, it’s also the best Spider-Man movie to date. Best by a long shot, in fact, so let’s just be glad they pushed ahead with it anyway.
Leading the way this time round is Andrew Garfield of The Social Network. Garfield gives an excellent performance as Peter Parker and definitely offers a more convincing high school kid than Maguire could ever have hoped to. His Parker is still a nerdy science student being pushed around by the bullies, however in this version he’s also not afraid to stand up to them - both before and after the acquisition of his superpowers. It’s a subtle change that not only provides a nice "look what I can do now" sequence, but also adds greater depth to his character’s underlying courage and morality.
Playing opposite Garfield is Emma Stone (Zombieland, Easy A) with another effortlessly engaging performance. Stone’s quickly established herself as one of Hollywood’s most natural actors and her turn as Parker’s love interest 'Gwen' brings a wonderful blend of confidence and charisma to what’s traditionally a more ‘damsel in distress’ type role. Together the two leads ground this take on the Spider-Man legend very much in honest, human terms: it’s a love story first, a murder mystery second and a superhero film last – which may explain why Webb was chosen to direct.
The ensemble support cast is also excellent, with Martin Sheen and Sally Field playing Parker’s aunt and uncle, Dennis Leary as the police chief and Rhys Ifans in the role of the mentor-come-villain. On the production side, the 3D is both clever and unobtrusive while the special effects impress without ever dominating proceedings. The ‘point of view’ sequences, in particular, are so exhilarating you actually gain a fleeting (and utterly enviable) glimpse of what life might be like swinging from high-rise to high-rise just like Spidey. Since wish-fulfilment lies at the heart of every great superhero story, that fact alone makes The Amazing Spider-Man definitely worth the admission price.
By Kyle Bell