The Amazing Spiderman
You are setting yourself up for a fall with a title like that. It had better be amazing or the headline writers will have a field day, and so it’s been.
To be fair, director Marc Webb (500 Days Of Summer) and star Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) were up against it with most people feeling a reboot of the Spiderman franchise, so relatively soon after the lacklustre final Sam Raimi instalment, was needless.
Sadly, those preconceptions are not dealt a killer blow by this film, which never really fulfils its potential or its purpose, which is to elevate Spidey to the level of The Avengers, or the imminent Dark Knight Rises.
The most successful part is the casting of Garfield, who is brilliant. He really nails the geek with wit, awkwardness and vulnerability, but manages the transition to web wielding superhero with ease.
He convinces comically, romantically and heroically. His scenes with love interest Gwen (played by Emma Stone) are some of the best in the film. Maybe this is because he has a really bad villain to contend with.
The realisation of Rhys Ifans’ The Lizard is poor, in a summer where real villains such as Loki and Bane are going to dominate and it’s a shame, because a good hero needs a good villain, and despite the back-story that he was friends with Spidey’s dad it never really works.
As is now common with big tent-pole movies the supporting cast is excellent, particularly Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, and whilst there are moments of great humour, great romance and good action it all feels a little bit of a damp web, a damp squib and another failed attempt for this webbed wonder to stick.
The arachnid hero is taking up all new screens locally it seems, so those in need of a different kind of fix may be forced on a road trip, but hopefully their destination is less bleak than the wilderness faced by Willem Dafoe in this gripping thriller.
Dafoe plays Martin, a mercenary dispatched to kill and bring back the last Tasmanian tiger in existence. His clients are a mysterious biotech company we never learn too much about. In fact we learn little of anything in this beautifully delivered moral fable.
Dafoe is exhilarating but the moral questions remain just that, with the answers firmly in the hands of the viewer. Brave, ravishing cinema that is worth the trip to catch on the big screen.