Parrot and Olivier In America


I had been a huge fan of Peter Carey ever since my mother forced me to read Oscar and Lucinda at the age of 16 and as I now found myself in his homeland of Australia I felt it was high time to revisit Carey’s work. I had previously read The True History of The Kelly Gang and Jack Maggs so this time opted for the enigmatically named Parrot and Olivier in America.
As with Oscar and Lucinda, the narrative alternates viewpoint chapter by chapter, switching from Olivier the aristocratic French lord, and Parrot, the son of a Devonshire printer. The book begins with what you may call a story of origins. It describes, in quite dazzling and intricate prose the young boy Olivier, a refugee from the revolution living in rural France. In the wake of Napoleon’s defeat he returns to Paris and the family attempts to return to the life they once had. On the other side of the channel, Parrot and his father find jobs at a printing house where Parrot is first taught the skill of engraving. Due to the more covert undertakings of the house however and the involvement of local authorities it is burned down, causing young Parrot to flee and set himself on a course, the details of which we discover at various intervals throughout the remainder of the novel. Skipping forward we find both men in Paris on the verge of another potential revolution. For his own safety more than the necessity of the task, Olivier is sent to America to undertake research about their prison system and its potential application in France. Not entirely pleased, Parrot accompanies the young aristocrat across the Atlantic.
What follows, as promised by the book’s cover is the tale of an unlikely friendship as they explore this new land and more than its penitentiary system, the importance and value it holds regarding art and the artist.
As this extended overview shows, the book has a hugely engaging plot. Charging through France and across England only to run up and down the East coast of America. The changes of place and the amount of travel allow the book to present a plethora of diverse characters each bringing varying degrees of character and caricature to the pages. This is first and foremost a humorous tale of adventure and discovery and indeed much of it was laugh out loud funny. Most of this humour stemming from the dynamic between its two titular characters. The down to earth, man of the world, toughness of Parrot coming up against Olivier’s blissfully unaware, pompous and self aggrandising demeanour creating a hugely entertaining double act. This has always been one of the huge successes of Peter Carey’s work. His ability to create characters and situations which are fun and gripping, fools the reader into thinking they have come across something lighter than they have. Pulled head first into the world he has created, it is not a struggle to wade through the issues and ideas he presents. Instead they come easily, naturally emerging from the stories he tells.
In the case of Parrot and Olivier, these ideas did emerge, although I’ll admit it took me a while to piece them all together. The story does set up very early on the discussions of art and artist, placing aesthetic merit on both sides of the class divide and asking the question of how this divide shapes decisions of what constitutes art. Throughout the novel these questions which link artistic worth to capital are raised as is the questions of whether taste is universal and autonomous to the structures of society. These questions allude in part to Kant’s principles of aesthetics but the ideas that I was most reminded of when reading  were Bourdieu’s thoughts on ‘cultural capital’. The concept that aesthetic taste dictates how much status you had within society and can be used as a way to distance the aristocracy from the lower classes is apparent within the novel. There is a fantastic quote in the novel which highlights explicitly this relationship between art and class; “I have travelled widely. I have seen this country in its infancy. I tell you what it will become. The public squares will be occupied by an uneducated class who will not be able to quote a line of Shakespeare.” Although alluded to at the beginning, this is an idea which comes into full affect as the narrative moves through America and Olivier’s aristocratic sensitivities are shocked when confronted with a land of supposed democracy and equality. Where wealth carries more power than a good name.

Parrot too feels out of step with the new world at first. An enigmatic and worldly character, longing for ‘stasis’ and with enough of a dark Dickensian background to fit right into a Carey novel. He is on a few occasions explicitly and heartbreakingly laid bare. On one such instance, a discussion of the absence of a flaneur in America, his lack of creative accomplishments are brought to the fore. If Olivier represented the art collector of the old world, dictating taste and capital, Parrot was the artist of it. A flaneur rather than the proactive and in some cases destructive artist we see in America.

There are many other aspects of the novel to take away from it and to respond to as there is no specific or singular ‘message’ that the story delivers.This is one of the joys of Peter Carey, that his books are not necessarily ‘about’ anything but by telling stories about people and places they manage instead to be about a great deal. This book, so rooted as it is in geography is concerned with the creation of a new world. Not only in its main focus of America, but in the revolution left behind in Paris and its allusions to Botany Bay and of course Carey’s own context, there looms the shadow of Australia.

The book then tells of all forms of new world and it’s collisions with tradition and class. It tells a story of the whole concept of a supposed utopia, an image of principles of liberty and equality and how they can go awry. As with all his books Parrot and Olivier has grand ambitions and certainly manages to deliver on them but in a way which is not heavy or difficult but instead uproariously funny, heart-warming and as always beautifully engaging.

Testament of Youth

It is interesting that the story that was the original and came to be the epitome of all others now seems like a story we have seen many times before; coming as it is, in the wake of so many other first world war period dramas. Not to mention the likes of Downton Abbey on the small screen. Yet Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth, first published in 1933 was at that time the first of its kind and as indeed the film tells us, Brittain herself became hailed as the voice of a generation. It tells the story of Vera, an unconventional woman who shuns the idea of marriage and instead wants to study at Oxford and become a writer. After a long fight with her father she is allowed to sit the entrance exams where, despite a lack of tutition her oringinality stands out and she is offered a place. Just before she begins her studies however, the first world war breaks out and instead of joining Vera at Oxford, the man she loves joins up, shortly followed by her brother. Feeling a need to do something instead of burying herself in books Vera leaves her studies to become a nurse, volunteering first in Britain and then on the front line itself. The film focusses on Vera’s experiences during the war as well as her reactions to the horrors she witnesses and the losses she suffers.
Depsite the feeling that we have seen aspects of this story before, the film nevertheless seems to be saying something new, or at least seems to be telling the story in a way which makes it seem worth telling. The view of the nurse on the frontline highlights the destructive force of the bloodshed and at one point the film uses a panning shot, not unlike the end of O What A Lovely War to impress upon the viewer the extreme numbers of men injured and killed.
Alicia Vikander who plays the main role of Brittain carries the film very well. Always a captivating screen presence, she beautifully captures this charismatic, strong willed woman, so much so that you forgive the occasional accent slip.

It may seem like the same wartime drama we have seen countless times but there does seem to be something beautifully rendered about A Testament of Youth. Perhaps it is because of the strength of its source material but there is a poignancy in its delivery and a deep attachment to its characters which makes it more than worth another visit to 1914 and the horrors of those four years.


Honest and moving Richard Linklater’s Boyhood gives a depiction of growing up unlike anything we have seen on screen before now.  It is true, films often use the passing of time to add realism to a continuing drama, as indeed Linklater did with his Before series. Or often the longevity of the filming process gives us a snapshot into the coming-of-age of its stars, as was the case with the Harry Potter films; Daniel Radcliffe and co morphing into adults from their ten year old selves. But with Boyhood this passing of time is not merely incidental, nor is it contrived to create a more realistic piece. It is the crux of Linklater’s narrative as he gently pushes the audience’s attention towards these pockets of life so that the passing of time is exactly the drama we are observing. Every inch of height gained, every maturing facial expression becomes the thrill and the spectacle of this film. Our emotional countenance is measured by the mere passing of years as Linklater reminds you just how quickly it moves and how much can change within it.

Despite opening with the sickening sound of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’, the piece is not as weighed down by sentimentality as you would expect. Instead the story, which depicts twelve years in the life of our protagonist Mason, is carefully tongue in cheek. The saccharine scenes of teenage existential angst are fondly mocking, rendering this film perceptive rather than over wrought and mushy. The characters and indeed many of the incidents are incredibly recognisable and the real time filming means that the time periods are unbelievably accurate.

Ellar Coltrane’s performance is remarkable and perhaps due to the time spent with him, he truly inhabits the role making the coming-of-age mean that we do truly see the growth of a fully rounded individual. Coltrane has given so much of his life to Mason that the performance is not simply a caricature of that journey from boy to young adult. Praise for this however must also be given to Linklater’s script which has created not only Mason, but an entire family and supporting cast of characters who are both flawed and appealing but always fully realised. The situations depicted and the actions of the characters hit so close to the truth that the pain and the humour pour forth of their own accord. It succeeds in capturing the realism it so strives for, and like life is sad and draining at times, but wonderfully funny nevertheless.

More than a mere concept film, Linklater presents us with recognisable characters and astute observations making Boyhood a masterpiece not because of the idea itself, but in the way that the idea is realised.



Dido Belle is a sore thumb in the midst of upper class society in the late 1700s, and perhaps naturally, the film Belle which recounts her life is equally discernible within the world of the period drama.Amma Asante’s take on the 18th century period drama places its focus slightly wider than usual matrimonial troubles and uses her mixed race female protagonist as a way to explore not only the difficulties associated with gender or class but also race. Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s performance as Dido Belle captures all aspects of life which her situation causes and in doing so marks herself out as one to watch.

The film is inspired by of the life of Dido Belle, the illegitimate and mixed race daughter of an admiral. Although Dido is acknowledged by her father, brought up within the privileged world of her uncle Lord Mansfield, and given a considerable inheritance, she is still restricted by the colour of skin. We get a brief overview of Dido’s childhood but the main focus of the plot is the outcome of the Zong case, which Lord Mansfield, as Lord Chief Justice has considerable input in.

Although the film heads towards this decision about the state of slavery as its climax, this doesn’t mean to say that it becomes one track minded. The contrast between the slaves killed on the Zong ship and this heiress who are at once connected and detached from each other creates a viewpoint which is neither as an oppressor or a comrade but something far more ambiguous. The race issues allow a fresh light on what seems to be a well-trodden era, as does the use of a woman with perhaps a higher social standing than expected as our way into the issue. What the film does very well is that although slavery becomes a very large part of what Belle explores, it does not become the sole idea within it. Indeed the discussions on slavery do not overshadow the other social issues of the time such as class and gender and the film plays a very careful balance between these social constructs and barriers recognising that there were many ways to lack freedom.

The film has wider ambitions in its thematic material, namely the ethical consequences of turning human life into property, and uses the example of the Zong as way to discuss this issue in every form it takes. Despite this heavy duty subject matter, the film does not dispense with the typical romantic notions of the genre. Instead it allows this to become another way to reflect on the topics under discussion. Overall it is only the plot which allows the film to do something different, other than that it is a standard period drama with an interesting focus point but a very enjoyable watch.


Joanna Hogg fits nicely into the list of recent British female directors with a flair for realism. Her latest film Exhibition, depicts the lives of an artist couple as they make preparations to sell their house. Exhibition follows along similar lines to her previous film Archipelago, even containing another Tom Hiddleston cameo after his stunning turn in that story about a family trip to the island of Tresco. The same style and touches are apparent in these two films, but where Archipelago’s drawn out awkward silences took place mostly between people, Exhibition plays out these silences in solitude.

The film is a snapshot into the lives of two artists who live together in a Grand Designs style house, but work separately and on different floors. The house itself becomes very important in the film, not only is it the part of the plot, as our story revolves around their preparation for selling. But it also comes to reiterate aspects of their emotional states. The house, with its many floors and ever-reaching spiral staircase emphasises humanity’s ability to ‘reach’. It marks the boundaries of creativity and the film questions that idea of space, what it comes to represent and the home as both comforting as well as alienating.

The film itself focusses a great deal on this idea of solitude, and the separation of two people who life under one roof but can’t connect anymore. This disconnection results in a number of scenes which portray a character in isolation, in this way often dispensing with the human interaction which Hogg excels at, in favour of a more thoughtful and silent musing; not always to great effect. Exhibition is full of wonderful snippets of intrigue and conversation, but fleshed out with these slow and drawn out images of a person’s internal thoughts. Whilst the crafting of these scenes is clear and incredibly good, you can’t help but miss the moments when the two protagonists were connecting, either metaphorically or literally.

Overall the film is certainly a carefully crafted and cleverly constructed depiction of life which is at once incredibly relatable and utterly alienating. Although it doesn’t always work and you can’t help but long for the images of human interaction which Hogg is so good at, the film is about separation. The portrayal of individuals who are once together and disparate forms the tale of the film and in this way perhaps the silence is unavoidable.

The Wind Rises

‘I am retiring’ designer Caproni tells Jiro in one of his dreams, just one of the many references to the passing of creativity in what is Miyazaki’s swansong, The Wind Rises. Caproni may be referring to aeroplanes, but in the lines ‘aeroplanes are beautiful dreams, engineers turn dreams into reality’, the word ‘films’ would do just as well. The Wind Rises may be about planes, but the references to the length of a person’s creativity, and the ability to turn a dream into something tangible, is exactly what Miyazaki has always excelled in. These references succeed in acknowledging the retiring of a director who has managed to capture the hearts and the imagination of so many.

The film is based loosely on the life of Jiro Horikoshi, an aviation engineer whose dreams to make something aesthetically beautifully was tempered with issues of money and necessity, (again something reminiscent of the filmmaking process). The necessity in The Wind Rises is a military one, as the encroaching war means that Jiro’s talents are put towards making bomber and fighter planes. Indeed eventually the plane Jiro was responsible for was used for the Japanese Kamikaze campaigns of the Second World War, something which, as Kamikaze translates at ‘spirit wind’ or ‘divine wind’, hangs heavily over the whole film.

Despite this dense subject matter, the film is uncannily Miyazaki, and in typical style the political machinations form the backdrop for the love story which takes centre stage: a story about Jiro’s love of aeroplanes, and the woman in his life, Nahoko. Jiro’s calm and un-impetuous nature means he takes a step back from the immediate political upheaval, instead becoming the eye through which the audience observes, unbiased, and from a distance. Opening with the quote from Paul Valery, ‘the wind is rising… we must attempt to live’, the film immediately sets up its focus. This is a film about a coming storm, not about being in the eye of one, and in that way, the war is only spoken about retrospectively towards the end, and from a dream. Although there is no question about its impending arrival, the film is about the living in between, and becomes a story about hope.

This uplifting and dreamlike aspect of the film, which counters the increasingly bleak context, is made explicit in the magnetic animation of it. It looks beautiful, the stark colours of the Japanese cherry blossoms and surrounding countryside provide a striking backdrop to the story, mimicking the ongoing events. It is stunning and edenic throughout the scenes of blossoming romance, whilst the dark and miserable German weather, causing Jiro to turn up the collars of his bulky overcoat, are images reminiscent of early film noir.

The Wind Rises depicts a story of love in the midst of impending doom, flagging up the contrasts between tragically prophetic exclamations of ‘Japan will blow up’ and marriage proposals. Jiro’s love of aviation, which is the core of the film, comes to represent this contrast directly, and we are told ‘airplanes are beautiful, cursed dreams, waiting for the sky to swallow them up.’  Miyazaki’s final film is a beautiful meditation on what films do best, portraying an image of the power of human imagination and our capacity to dream.


The papier mâché mask of Frank starts out as a slightly intimidating image of wide eyed interest. The large blue eyes and slightly open mouth present a permanent expression of innocent confusion. By the end however, the smudged makeup of the night before, and the duct tape holding it together tell a very different tale. The film seems to wear a similar mask of its own and unfolds in very much the same way. The early innocent optimism and buoyant humour is replaced by fissures in relationships and the initial excitement gives way as deeper issues come to the fore.

The film takes inspiration from the real life Frank Sidebottom, the stage character of Chris Sievey who wore an almost identical head during his performances. The screenplay comes in part from Jon Ronson’s factual account as the keyboard player in Sievey’s band. Like Ronson’s other screenplay, The Men Who Stare at Goats, it merely dabbles with the truth in order to tell a story which encapsulates so much more than a simple, straightforward biopic could. Jon Ronson’s experiences are portrayed in Domhnall Gleeson’s character Jon, an aspiring musician and keyboard player who was in the right place and the right time and is recruited as the new keyboard player of the eccentric ‘Soronprfbs’ because he brought something ‘cherishable’ to the band. Jon then embarks on what turns out to be a year long retreat to rehearse and record the album in what resembles a Captain Beefheart style mindset.

Indeed it is not only the Frank Sidebottom myth that is dissected here, but the presence of musicians such as Captain Beefheart are clearly felt in the story. Exploring the long standing cliché of the links between creative genius and mental illness, the focus of Frank becomes far more universal than a single musical figure. Believing that Frank’s talent stemmed from a troubled childhood Jon didn’t have, and assuming the other members of this eccentric, yet highly innovative band all too suffer from mental health issues, Jon gradually discovers that the stereotype may not have a huge basis in fact.

Despite the rather large mask, Michael Fassbender portrayal of Frank is a marvel. With the facial expression completely redundant, Fassbender has to resort to his physicality and his voice in order to transform a papier mâché head into a real three dimensional character – something which he certainly succeeds in. Frank is both highly complex and incredibly charismatic, a trait not easy to portray when your face is frozen into one expression. Scoot McNairy’s Don bemoans early on that he wants ‘to be Frank’, which at first glance seems like an entirely strange longing. Fassbender’s performance however creates a character who is utterly captivating and charming; the type of person who can make life both more interesting and more difficult. It is this reason why people gravitate towards him and indeed the ensemble cast presenting a similar collection of eclectic characters. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Clara is attached to Frank, to the point that she does not want to share him with anyone else. Her clear dislike towards Jon, as he attempts to introduce Frank to a wider audience, manifests itself as anger and bitterness and creates some of the most hilarious moments of the film. McNairy too is excellent as a caricature of a troubled soul struggling to flourish creatively, and all this collective chaos is watched on by Gleeson’s overly keen Jon, whose attempts to give the band a more prevalent social media presence. All this contributes to the humour of the film.

After all this is a tragicomedy, and the weightier issues are countered by the laugh out loud black comedy that runs throughout. In the end, Frank is a darkly funny yet ultimately poignant exploration of the psyche attached to creative genius. It tackles and yet disposes of all the clichés attached to the image of a tortured artist and in the same way manages to collide head on with difficult issues concerning mental illness and suicide. The mask of Frank uses a dual application, both representing the liberation and the restriction of the character. Frank himself manages to be at one point entirely unique; it is a part of this incredibly interesting and charismatic man. At the same time it represents more than itself and manages to create an anonymous figure that we can all relate to, giving this story universal application and appeal.

Blue Ruin

Think ‘revenge thriller’ and what generally springs to mind is a Schwarzenegger esque figure with a vast amount of weaponry or the dulcet tones of Liam Neeson reminding you that he ‘will find you’. At the very least, you assume that protagonist will be someone who looks comfortable inflicting pain. Although still fitting nicely into this genre of revenge thrillers due to its plot, there is not a whiff of the Liam Neeson type about Blue Ruin. In fact the protagonist of this film doesn’t look at home weilding a gun so much as positively shocked to look down and see it in his hands. Indeed much of Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin contradicts the usual genre conventions, but that is what makes it what it is; a redefinition of a genre which was veering towards caricature, into something lean, gritty, and above all things, heart-stoppingly thrilling.

The film begins with an image of the life of outsider Dwight Evans. He is living out of his car, breaking into people’s houses for baths, and eating out of bins. What we then get is a mysterious and chilling conversation in which a local police officer breaks the news to Dwight that his parent’s murderer is going to be released from prison. What then follows is Dwight’s attempts at revenge, and a visit to his estranged sister, and throughout all of this, very tiny details of the plot are slowly revealed. The film is careful to never give too much away, the reason for revenge is clear at the beginning; his parents were murdered. But as the information does gradually seep out, what is revealed is a complex intertwining of lives, in which life and death create tightly knitted bonds.

Despite absolutely dripping in graphic and brutal violence, Blue Ruin does nothing to glamourise it. Indeed the nature of the film’s brutality is that violence only ever breeds more violence, particularly in a society which places so much emphasis on the right to bear arms. The plot is not a story of a one-hit revenge, but a never ending back and forth of increasingly bloodthirsty attacks. The ever resilient blue Pontiac, the ‘Blue Ruin’ of the title, which becomes as much a character as any, also signifies the cyclical nature of a revenge saga. It is passed to and fro, until eventually we end as we started and you cannot help but feel like Sisyphus as the rock inevitably falls downwards again.

Macon Blair’s Dwight embodies an ordinary man desperate for revenge. He doesn’t cut an imposing figure, or look remotely capable of extreme violence. What Jeremy Saulnier’s film does however, is explore how grief can push someone over the edge and completely alter them. Blue Ruin is a thrilling tale of just such emotional extremes and is a truly masterful take on a classic genre.


Having grown up in a house in which Lawrence of Arabia features very highly on a list of heroes, it is not hard to see why the desert has such a magnetic pull to those wanting to explore. Clearly thinking along the same lines, Robyn Davidson, bored with the hustle and bustle of city life, decided to walk the Australian desert, from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean; a journey which in total is nearly two thousand miles. Requiring serious planning, the first part of the film chronicles these early stages of preparation and the first thing to do is to find some camels. The film moves with considerable pace through the two or three years leading up to the actual journey but once the journey itself starts, the pace of the film slows right down, as for what everyone is calling a ridiculous and mad journey, the immediate dangers are limited. Instead Tracks is a film about perseverance, and the difficulties arise from the sheer stamina needed to complete the physically tough and mentally draining six month trek.

Often literary accounts of journeys are not measured by a physical distance, but by an inner one; making it not an account of a newly discovered land, but a sentimental journey of inner discovery. Refreshingly, Robyn Davidson’s account really is a story about her, the camels and the incredibly gorgeous and mysterious terrain of the Australian outback. Opening with the following quotation from Robyn: “And there are new kinds of nomads, not people who are at home everywhere, but who are at home nowhere. I was one of them”, the film tells you immediately that this is not going to be an over wrought, sentimental drama about someone finding themselves. Instead what we have is a stirring yet unsentimental account of a journey, in which the physical distance, not the inner one comes to the fore. Certainly, with a scarcity of characters, a lot of the information comes from a voiceover of Davidson, or flashbacks into her childhood. But once the logistics and the origin of the journey are done with, the voiceover disappears and the script gives way to the external voice; Robyn’s conversations and actions. There is no denying however, that a journey of this magnitude will create a certain level of emotional stress, but except for one blunt and honest exclamation of ‘I’m so alone’ to National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan (Adam Driver), the only insights we get are through Davidson’s actions.

Any emotional turmoil is balanced perfectly with the smatterings of humour and few human relationships the film offers. Davidson’s friendship with her guide through the holy lands Eddie, played by Roly Mintuma, is one conducted via gesticulation rather than words. It provides an upbeat and positive interlude as Eddie’s good humour is infectious, extenuating the fact that this journey, whilst hard, is not born out of a negative mind-set. Equally Adam Driver’s Smolan is similarly cheerful, much to the distain of Davidson, and their more ambivalent relationship is equally fun to watch as his keen attempts at friendship are often met with a ‘fuck off’.

But it is the character of Davidson herself who takes centre stage here, as it is after all a solo undertaking. Mia Wasikowska’s portrayal of this women attempting to shun human interaction to be alone with her dog and newly acquired camels is wonderfully honest. Her affinity with the animals, which she seems to prefer to people, is clear. It is a truly physical performance in which both her strength and vulnerability is captured simply through her movement, and in particular the ever so frequent act of walking.

The film is a wonderfully truthful account of someone’s desire to do something bold and different, not, as she describes, to prove something, but simply because, well ‘why not?’ The landscape the film portrays is stunning and disquietingly unsettling at the same time. For anyone who has ever fantasised about a similar exploration, the film embodies the magic of a voyage into the unknown and plays beautifully on all your dreams of adventure and faraway lands.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve recently acquired some new glasses and my vision is no longer impaired, but it seems like 3D technology is coming along in leaps and bounds. All questions of its necessity or implications for the future of cinema aside, I am slowly, albeit very slowly, coming round to the idea that, used sensitively and in certain situations, 3D can be great fun; something which is exhibited perfectly in the slow pace accentuated shots of Spider-Man jumping of very tall buildings and zooming along the Manhattan skyline which punctuate this film.

Marc Webb’s first Amazing Spider-Man film was an origin story, so a lot of time was given over to the creation of Spiderman, and setting up Peter Parker’s backstory. With all that out of the way, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was able to get straight into the real business of defeating as many baddies as can be squeezed into the films 140 minute run time. There really were villains a plenty, whether it was the misunderstood fanatic who has become charged up, or the abandoned rich boy who is not only taking on Spider-Man, but the tyranny of a sinister multi-million dollar corporation. The film crash banged and walloped its way through one huge set piece after another, giving the audience no end of spectacle.

This is not to say that the human drama was forgotten however. The beauty of a superhero movie whose protagonist is barely out of high school and still lives with his aunt is that there are plenty of relatable jokes about laundry and such. Indeed one of the reasons this film works so well is its delicate balance of high octane drama with the banal kitchen sink mundanity of the superheroes alter ego; helped no doubt by the chemistry between its two leads. The relationship dramas between Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey and Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker are just as fun as the life threatening battles, as they bring a gentle humour and a youthful heart to the film, which something like Batman, with its distant and intense protagonist, doesn’t have.

Now that it’s got the origins and explanations out of the way, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 can fly full pelt in every direction. It is a deliciously exciting romp which keeps you entertained right through to the X-men clip at the end of the credits. Leaving you heartbroken and exhilarated in equal measure is not a feat I thought many films could manage. With its cheeky humour, nail biting fight sequences, and the ever developing mystery of Peter’s father and how Spider-Man came about, this Marvel outpouring has got plenty more in it and I’m definitely staying along for the ride.