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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents' disappearance - leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's former partner. Along the way he unlocks the secret of bio-engineering and inadvertently acquires extraordinary powers. As Spider-Man he is set on a collision course with Connors' transformed being, The Lizard.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Absolutely stock standard superhero stuff, The Amazing Spider-Man is, however, amazing on the level of its cinematic flourish. Spectacularly made, the film fuses the latest digital technology with some creative filmmaking - at least in the action department. This comic book character has had more screen reincarnations than I can recall, with each of the latest ones (2002, 2004, 2007 all with Tobey Maguire as the hero) working hard at making him a troubled young man on an earnest quest to balance his powers with his humanity. A need to be taken seriously.

The moral of taking responsibility and the lessons of having to live with the consequences of our actions is the film's message board.

Andrew Garfield is an excellent actor - as is Tobey Maguire - and he teases out everything that Mark Webb demands of his lead. (I'll resist the Spider's Webb puns, you'll find plenty on the web ...) Garfield gives us an intense young man with a big heart and a highly developed mind, without sacrificing the characteristics of youth. Remember, Peter is a high school student.

All the set pieces are in place, from the bullying he endures at the beginning which earns retribution to our satisfaction, the massive aerial stunts as Spider-Man flies around New York, the crashes and smashes and even a creature that threatens lower Manhattan, in the shape of a giant lizard, the 'science gone wrong' element of the story.

Emma Stone is delicious as Gwen, the sweet student whose father happens to be NYPD Captain, determined to catch this strange vigilante in a weird suit and mask.... These obvious devices are part of the fun for the fans, as are the inconsistencies of the film's own world. No matter, he's a charming and brave chap without whom New York would probably collapse. (Unless Superman or any of the others turned up for duty, of course.)

The veterans Martin Sheen and Sally Field are wonderfully grounding and their roles well defined. The film powers along thanks to the disciplined rhythm of the editing and there is a great sense of exhilaration as we fly with Spider-Man among the skyscrapers. It's escapist entertainment that doesn't warrant too much scrutiny; it is what it is, a paperback comic given a hard cover.

Review by Louise Keller:
With startling visual effects giving a wondrous sense of freedom, I felt as though I was flying in some of the sequences in which Spider-Man swings his way through New York's skyscrapers like a trapeze artist on speed. There's pathos too, as director Mark Webb puts emphasis on the rescue of a young boy trapped in a car on the Williamsburg Bridge during chaos caused by the giant lizard, when vehicles are suspended by Spidey's web-shooters like miniature paperweights. The glow of first love between Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker and Emma Stone's Gwen gives the spectacle heart, while Spider-Man's growing sense of responsibility offers ballast. Ticking all the boxes and superbly produced, the Amazing Spider-Man in 3D is amazing, indeed.

The film begins with a reminder of Albert Einstein's words that imagination is more important than knowledge. Webb clearly has the ability to trigger our imagination in this much loved Marvel Comic book adaptation and while the key story elements may have been canvassed in the 2002 Sam Raimi version with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dust (with sequels in 2004 and 2007), there's a fresh spin on this new film by the aptly named Webb.

Garfield is surprisingly effective as nerdy Peter Parker who acquires newfound powers after a bite by a genetically modified spider turns him into a heroic vigilante. Garfield, who made his name in The Social Network, has vulnerability in spades, a quality with great appeal and there's a nice vibe between him and the ever-impressive Stone, whose feminine but strong persona complements. When Peter tells Gwen 'I've been bitten,' in an intimate moment on the rooftop, her immediate reply 'So have I,' brings ripples of laughter. Their first kiss is aided by those useful web-shooters and when Spider-Man suggests they go outside together, let me just say, he is aiming high.

The discovery of Peter's new powers are nicely portrayed, beginning with a revelation in the train (when his instincts make him leap upside down to the roof), followed by amusing instances at home of his new found strength. Martin Sheen and Sally Field are sympathetic as Uncle Ben and Aunty May, although their roles are strictly perfunctory.

There's a soulful note to Rhys Ifans' one-armed Dr Curt Connors, whose transformation into The Lizard is genuinely terrifying. He is green like The Hulk with a neck like a tree-trunk, an upturned mouth and scales that move realistically before reverting to his human self. As an epidemic of lizards descend on the city, the action takes place in the sewers of New York. All the guns are blazing in the lead up to the grand finale with its effective aerial shots, when giant cranes appear in the skyscraper maze, offering the injured Spider-Man a helping hand to his final Tower roof destination. We are easily transported into the incredible fearless world of Spider-Man, as he uses buildings as ladders and bridges, where the sky is the limit. It's an exhilarating adventure for anyone who is prepared to let their imagination rip.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, THE (M)
(US, 2012)

CAST: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Embeth Davidtz, Chris Zylka, Sally Field, Denis Leary, Irrfan Khan, Annie Parisse, Kelsey Chow, Campbell Scott

PRODUCER: Avi Arad, Matthew Tolmach, Laura Ziskin

DIRECTOR: Marc Webb

SCRIPT: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves, (Marvel comic by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Schwartzman

EDITOR: Alan Edward Bell, Michael McCusker, Pietro Scalia

MUSIC: James Horner

PRODUCTION DESIGN: J. Michael Riva

RUNNING TIME: 136 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Qld & NT: July 2; other States July 4, 2012






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