There is a paucity of good, original script ideas going round Hollywood these days. How do I know? Well, look no further than this, yet another version of the well run Spider-Man story.
Call it a re-imagining or a post-modern retake, this version – seen through the fresh new eyes of director Marc Webb – could never be truly original.
In this latest film, young Peter Parker (a rather too old Andrew Garfield, but he plays nerdy very nicely) is bitten by a genetically-modified spider in the laboratory of the one-armed Dr Connors (Rhys Ifans, who is becoming more attractive with age). Now Dr Connors just happens to be looking for a magical elixir/drug/genetic sequence that will cure all ills and allow humans to regenerate lost limbs. He also just happens to be the one-time scientific partner of Peter’s deceased father who was killed in mysterious circumstances. So when Peter finds some of his dad’s old mathematical formulae he goes looking for answers at Dr Connors’ lab – and finds the spider instead.
Once bitten, Peter starts to behave strangely, manifesting all kinds of weird strengths that attract the brainy girl at school, Gwen (Emma Stone). These form some of the best sequences in the film as Peter starts to explore his new found spidey-ness before the senseless murder of his uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) turns him into the masked vigilante, spending the nights swinging on spider-silk above the mean city streets, trying to be the avenger of all ills – but really and truly just being a teenager filled with angst and guilt and trying to find a way to deal with these overwhelming emotions. Meanwhile, Dr Connors starts to take shortcuts as a scientist and unwittingly unleashes a scaly monster on the city.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this film, although it does not justify its two and a quarter hour running time and has a myriad of small scenes that could easily have been lost with no harm done to the plot. Indeed, Garfield and Stone have real fun with their characters, and some of the support acting is also excellent (Denis Leary as the chief of police is wonderful – he should most definitely make more films) and the CGI is handsome, although one does question whether it really needed to be in 3D.
So, here is yet another perfectly OK Friday evening blockbuster, with some laughs, a few scares and some great special effects. The problem is that it has all been done before. Never do you feel the spark of excitement that you are witnessing something that is really new, really awesome, and really about to change the face of cinema.
The Amazing Spider-Man, like so many of the films coming out of Hollywood these days, ticks all the right boxes as far as bringing home the bacon is concerned. But is it amazing? No, it isn’t. It’s a decent blockbuster movie. Roll on the day when Hollywood has the balls to deviate from the norm and be truly original.