I saw The Amazing Spider-man this week. Thanks to excellent performances by Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, it successfully reboots this beloved superhero franchise. The intimate story manages to sidestep the all-star scope of The Avengers behemoth. Within a small cast of well-written characters, my favourite was Curt Connors/the Lizard.
He's a classic Spider-Man villain: a genius/visionary who reaches for greatness only to destroy himself. This follows the tradition established by Sam Raimi's trilogy and it's pleasing to see the reboot pick up the thread. Connors is a leading scientist in the field of cross-species genetics, hoping to unlock the regenerative abilities of reptiles and apply them to medicine.
Rhys Ifans brings adds a touch of pathos to the character, portraying him as a gentle, introspective man devoted to his work. As an amputee, he's driven by a very personal quest. However, there's just enough menace and it pays off when he eventually transforms into the Lizard.
The rampage on the Williamsburg Bridge and Peter Parker's high school recall the dinosaurs from Ray Harryhausen's One Million Years BC and Valley of Gwangi. Animators at Sony Pictures Imageworks achieved a real sense of power and mass, something quite rare for a digital creation.
The Lizard has a suitably crazy plan: to turn the citizens of New York into humanoid reptiles. Thanks to director Marc Webb, it does make sense; Connors is driven insane but part of him still wants to improve humanity...
In the end, the biggest delight for me was seeing a giant reptile wear a lab coat. It's an image I had stored away since reading the comics as a child. After all these years, seeing it come to life put a big smile on my face.