Spinning a new web

Undated Film Still Handout from The Amazing Spider-Man. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Sony Pictures Releasing. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.
Undated Film Still Handout from The Amazing Spider-Man. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Sony Pictures Releasing. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Every great story has a beginning.

Spider-Man now has two: Sam Raimi’s action-packed 2002 blockbuster and this emotionally richer, though equally exhilarating opening chapter directed with verve by Marc Webb.

High school student Peter Parker (Garfield) is haunted by the disappearance of his parents (Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz).

He lives with his uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and aunt May (Sally Field) and contends with all the usual growing pains, including persistent bullying from jock classmate Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka).

A tender romance with fellow student Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), daughter of police chief Captain Stacy (Denis Leary), keeps Peter on an even keel until he is bitten by a genetically-modified arachnid.

At the same time, Peter discovers evidence linking his parents’ disappearance to his father’s business partner, Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).

Little does Peter realise that Connors also has a secret alter ego: reptilian menace The Lizard.

The Amazing Spider-Man is a terrifically entertaining refurbishment of the Marvel Comics superhero, blessed with an appealing mix of high-octane action and humour.

A delightful scene on the New York subway, in which Peter experiences his abilities for the first time, is pure slapstick replete with a heartfelt apology to the poor passengers caught in the crossfire.