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The Amazing Spider-Man

Year: 2012
Studio: Columbia
Director: Marc Webb
Producer: Laura Ziskin
Writer: James Vanderbilt/Alvin Sargent/Steve Kloves
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Campbell Scott, C Thomas Howell, Stan Lee

A few years back I worked out why the same fashions and styles in clothes and music come around every 10 or 15 years. It's because the people who lived through them and loved them have moved on after realising how silly they were, but the next generation are an ever-ready new market desperate to latch onto any trend that promises kudos among peers.

That's the only reason I can think of for this version of Spider-Man existing. Someone at the studio (after reading and throwing out the script that would have been Sam Raimi's fourth outing) realised that by the time 2012 came around, the kids who'd been too young to see the 2002 original but watched it a dozen times on DVD would queue around the corner to see anything with 'Spider-Man' in the title.

Because while it feels like the last three movies were only yesterday, it indeed started a decade ago – a long time in any fashion movement.

So my guess is the studios' instructions to incoming director Marc Webb and writers James Vanderbilt and Steve (Harry Potter) Kloves was 'same again, please'.

Because aside from some cosmetic changes, it's dispiritingly similar to Raimi's original. The arc is the same as science geek Peter Parker (Garfield) pines for the girl from afar (Gwen Stacy this time, played by Emma Stone), wonders what happened to his parents even though he's been bought up by his loving Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field) and gets picked on at school by the jocks.

Uncle Ben is killed by a thug Peter could have stopped, giving him the drive to fight crime. He gets bitten by the same genetically engineered spider and finds himself with super senses and climbing ability. Instead of shooting webs from his wrists, he builds little launchers that produce high tensile cable.

And like the Green Goblin, his enemy comes from a family link in his father's former science partner, Curt Connors (Ifans), an amputee who dreams of splicing genes from animals that can regrow limbs and tissues.

As Peter is finding his feet as a superhero busting car thieves and petty crooks, Connors is shut down because of the slowness of his research and, in desperation, injects the serum into himself, transforming into the power-mad Lizard – a ropey CGI creation no more accomplished than the effects Raimi showed us ten years ago.

From there the movie checks off the plot machinations. Peter and Gwen get closer, her father and the chief of police (Leary) eyeing the young paramour with contempt. Peter realises only he can stop The Lizard (even though in hindsight there seems to belittle motivation for the villain other than insanity). It's all very seen-it-before right up to the climatic battle in some very prominent New York location.

Unfortunately, this review makes the film sound much worse than it is. The story is engaging, Garfield channels the good natured, dorky persona of Peter Parker as Tobey Maguire did all that time ago, and his lanky physicality is very suited to the character in and out of the suit. He and Stone have good chemistry together and the movie has the right ratio of action to talky scenes.

Webb seems to have remembered the dramatic sensibility he had in (500) Days of Summer to bear nicely and some of the climbing and swinging sequences – especially the POV ones – were a treat on the big screen.

It's good, it's all just pretty redundant.

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