Logan J. Fowler swings…er…sings his praises of the wallcrawler’s cinematic reboot….
In 2002, Sony Pictures released a little film called Spider-Man. The movie, which was directed by Sam Raimi (Evil Dead) went on to gross a several hundred million dollars and spanned two sequels. The second entry was praised highly, but the third installment left a lot of fans disappointed. Sony decided to start from scratch with Spider-Man’s origin, in a retelling of Peter Parker’s infamous arachnid bite, leading up to his destiny as an emotionally troubled superhero.
Had the Raimi films not existed, there would be no base for comparison, but unfortunately Spidey’s clean slate adventure is going to run parallel lines to the 2002 film. There is a spider that bites Peter. There is a discovery of powers. There is a death of a relative that makes Peter become who he is. People will get bothered by this because we watched this process happen 10 years ago.
HOWEVER, what is much different here is not only The Amazing Spider-Man succeeds in what all three Raimi films tried to do but failed. It accomplishes what a movie about the webhead should be; it is not only truthful in character adaptation, but an enjoyable film when the superhero is not on screen.
High school outcast Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield, pitch perfect as the whiz kid scientist) wonders why his parents have abandoned him. He resides with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). When Peter discovers a briefcase containing evidence of people linked to his dad and work, he discovers a picture of his father and Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), an amputee with no right arm trying to regenerate his limbs using lizard DNA. When Peter sneakily goes to find Connors for more answers, he gets bitten by an genetically enhanced spider, leading him to gain all the strength of the arachnid. When he finally encounters Connors, he gives the doctor the formula to help him grow back his limb, only to disastrous results; Connors becomes the full bodied Lizard, who runs rampant on the city. It’s up to Peter/Spider-Man to stop him, much to new girlfriend Gwen Stacy’s (Emma Stone, never more beautiful) dismay.
There were some elements in there that sounded familiar I’m sure, but in all honesty, this film really is a much more concise telling of how Peter becomes not just Spider-Man, but a stronger person in his own state. That is one element that I felt the Raimi movies never gave us. Peter (in those films) always seemed like a doof, one who did not personally grow stronger. Here, Marc Webb’s direction has Peter being bullied at the start, but when he finally slinks into that costume, it’s not just Spider-Man who has a cockier attitude, but Peter as well, and by the movie’s conclusion, Peter and Spider-Man’s personality have become synonymous with each other.
Garfield embodies everything I wanted in my Spider-Man, and in addition, a Peter Parker. He is an awkward Parker, one who acts like a teenage kid who just wants acceptance. He grows confidence during the course of the film, which I loved seeing, as I said before. But his Spider-Man antics…oh man…this part of the movie was my bread and butter. Hearing Spidey shoot off quips (just like he does in the comics) brought a severe fanboy grin to my face. On top of that, the CGI Spidey moved perfectly-Spidey is the Tarzan of New York and this movie demonstrated that every time the webhead is on screen. There are even some first person shots that I loved to death.
There’s a lot more to appreciate here as well. The chemistry between Stone and Garfield is so credible it is a wonder to watch them both on screen. There’s no upside down kiss here but Maguire and Dunst never showed a spark, however Parker and Stacy demonstrate a passion for each other that never bogs down the movie and I’d love to see the relationship continue on in a (much wanted) sequel.
George Stacy, Gwen’s father, is played by Denis Leary, pretty much the guy stealing every scene he’s in. Leary was an inspired choice for the police captain but one I was very happy with, as Leary becomes Spider-Man’s threat by way of authority. He kind of was like a mash up (speaking about motives here) between the captain and J. Jonah Jameson, who I hope to see in the next film (played by J.K. Simmons? PLEASE?!).
Martin Sheen takes up the role of the somewhat patriarch to Peter as Uncle Ben, and Sheen’s portrayal is very effective, given the brief time we have with him. His death (this is NOT A SPOILER, IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN) is much more impactful in this film, and, I won’t lie, I felt it. Ben’s counterpart in May has Sally Field being a very concerned aunt. I just hope to see her role expand in the sequel, as she is one of the most important people in Peter’s life.
Ryhs Ifans plays Curt Connors well. The only problem here is not with Ifans casting, but more that we spend such little time with him as the doctor that gaining sympathy over his turning into the Lizard is null and void. In addition, the Lizard CGI looks great, but I was still put off by his overall look.
The score for the film is hit or miss, and it sadly won’t be as iconic as Danny Elfman’s music for the 2/3 used in the Raimi trilogy.
The Amazing Spider-Man may not the box office darling Sony wants it to be, and that’s kind of sad. Its reboot status will turn people away and make people compare (I mean, hey, I did a lot in this review). But it’s the Spider-Man movie I WANTED.
It has an indie feel to it, no doubt, and that makes sense, considering director Webb’s only other film was 500 Days (of Summer), an anti-love story with indie cred all over it. But what Webb and the cast (Garfield, most notably) bring to this film is a truer than true Spider-Man tale that is not based in Marvel Studios camp (they made all the Avengers-based movies). Sony may still have the rights to Spider-Man for a while, but in the hands of these people, I have never felt prouder to be a Spider-Man fan. The cast is perfect, the effects are great, and they got Spider-Man 100% right. The movie isn’t flawless, but if I had the chance to meet 2002 Logan and tell him to wait another 10 years for this film, describing it in full detail how it matched everything I was looking for in Spider-Man’s cinematic outing….
I would’ve waited.
The Amazing Spider-Man wasn’t amazing, but it was pretty damn good. I am so happy with it. And I’m definitely down for multiple viewings. And a sequel? Oh yes, please.
Rating: 9 webs spun out of 10 (Excellent)
Note: Saw the film in 3-D. Doesn’t add too much, I think a 2D viewing would be fine.