|'Garfield fits the boyish charm of Parker fairly well, although his Spider-Man alter-ego is more awkward geek-chic than confident web-slinger.'|
Never a franchise that has entirely succeeded in setting my loins alight, The Amazing Spider-Man currently sits at number forty-six on the all-time box office takings list, thus explaining entirely why distinctly average films focusing on this superhero keep getting produced with minimum effort and inspiration levels. It simply doesn't matter what you do with Spider-Man, it will make money regardless.
This concept goes some way to explaining why the recently announced second instalment of this re-boot looks to be falling down into the same traps as the last round of films by having far too many villains in the antagonist blender. Sony's press release mentions Electro, Harry Osborn, Rhino and possibly even Norman Osborn (which would make sense, he's referred to but never seen in this), thus suggesting we're about to get a cacophony of noisy trouble-makers much like the piddle of mess that was the not-so-Amazing Spider-Man 3.
In this though, Mark Webb's first outing as franchise director, he does at least get the concept behind his purveyor of villainy right. Benefiting from the considerable talents of Rhys Ifans, Dr. Curt Connors is the perfect Spider-Man villain; reluctant to resort to evil deeds, but left with no choice when the walls close in around him from all sides, including those belonging to Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield). This has never been a franchise to suggest that its hero is never to blame for events, nor that some of its villains are beyond redemption and lacking in an understanding of humanity. Such is the successful case here.
With memory of Mary-Jane presumably too fresh in fan's minds, Emma Stone is instead Gwen Stacy, a change which matters only in terms of the label applied. Stone is left with little to do apart from scream appropriately and it is during the moments where she shows up in the company of her father (Denis Leary) that the age gap between Stone (24) and Stacy (17?) is most apparent. Anyone who believes Stone is a lowly high-schooler - at the beck of call of her police chief Dad, squirrelling boys away in her room - has taken too much super-serum, or is wilfully ignoring her obviously matured raspy vocal inflections.
Garfield meanwhile fits the boyish charm of Parker fairly well (apart from when he is with Stone), although his Spider-Man alter-ego is more awkward geek-chic than confident web-slinger. Perhaps that, for this first instalment, was the intention and he does just about get away with it, although you suspect a hero like Batman - hell, even Ryan Reynold's Green Lantern - would have no problem wiping the smirk of his face with a five-finger face-masher.
As ever with this property the end result is uninspiring and forgettable but not entirely unpleasant enough to recommend ignoring all together. The plot is student-level stock stuff, even if Ifans character occasionally lifts it, and the set pieces groan under the weight of having been done before (crisis on a bridge, you say?). Spidey though can still hook you in during odd moments, though God - and the bank manager, and Sony - knows it doesn't really need to.