The Amazing Spiderman – Review
Marc Webb directed one of my favorite romantic comedies a few years ago called (500)Days of Summer. He showed a real knack for relationship material. He hasn’t done much more than TV since then, but now he tackles one of Marvel’s most iconic characters in what most fans feel is an unnecessary, and in some cases, unwanted reboot. It’s just been five years since Sam Raimi finished his trilogy, although most of us would like to forget the third film was ever made. Anyways, if you can put aside the fact that Raimi’s Spiderman is still a little too fresh for rebooting, Webb has given us a fantastic retelling with an updated origin… and bucket loads of heart!
Peter Parker is your average awkward, yet sarcastic teenager struggling through high school, first love, and family issues stemming from the loss of his parents at a very young age. While helping his uncle clean up after a basement flooding, he finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared. His investigation takes him to Oscorp and puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors, his father’s former partner.
First of all, did Sony need to reboot Spiderman? Nope, but they did, so lets get past that and try to enjoy the movie for what it is. The Amazing Spiderman is a fresh take on the Spiderman character. All of the key story elements are there including a somewhat unnecessary retelling of the origin. There is enough though to keep it from being overly repetitive. Some could even argue that it’s more accurate, given Gwen Stacey is Peter’s first love and Mary Jane didn’t come into the picture until later. It’s that relationship that the rest of the film is built upon and where the true heart of The Amazing Spiderman lies. Webb revels in what he does best, the characters, building on the strengths and weaknesses of their relationships. By the end of the film, the viewer (at least this one) is invested in characters moreso than the super hero glitz. I know I’m gonna get knocked in the head for this, but Raimi’s Spiderman feels hollow in comparison.
So the big question. How does Andrew Garfield fare as Peter Parker. Over the years Peter Parker has developed his appearance through both print and animation. The meek, nerdy kid has become more of an everyday kid just dealing with normal high school BS. Garfield isn’t nerded up. He wears contacts instead of glasses, dresses with the trends, has a little attitude, and is good looking enough to make the relationships believable. Where Raimi took Parker to one extreme (and faithful to the original comics), Webb spends less time fitting Garfield into a mold, and more time creating a believable character. The contrast in Garfield’s Parker isn’t nearly as black and white as Maguire’s. Webb takes that comic book feel out of the equation and replaces it with a more grounded reality that allows you to believe. On a smaller note, even the relationship with Flash Thompson feels more realistic.
Parker’s alter ego Spiderman fares just as well as you feel he’s pretty much riding with training wheels through the whole movie. There’s no sudden turning point where Spidey knows how to swing gracefully from building to building. He’s still learning, even at the film’s climax. The suit itself is awesome and feels like it’s being worn by a real person given the natural folds in the material. I also liked that they returned to the wrist web device. The webs no longer shoot directly from Peter’s wrist, they come from a device created by Peter using a high tensile webbing developed at Oscorp, a little more in line with the 60s cartoon and the original Marvel comic’s origin.
As far as the rest of the cast goes, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey is awesome… as always, and has excellent on-screen chemistry with current “real” boyfriend Andrew Garfield. Their relationship is the heart and soul of the movie. When first announced, I wasn’t totally on board with Martin Sheen and Sally Field as uncle Ben and aunt May, but I was surprised how much I liked both of them in their respective roles. Rosemary Harris though, from Raimi’s Spiderman is still a better representation of aunt May hands down. Denis Leary as Captain Stacey, does a great job also, and oh yeah, Stan Lee’s cameo is the best by far of all his cameos to date!
Oh, and lets not forget Dr. Connors played by Rhys Ifans. His role is fairly limited, but he sells it. Most of his character though is dominated by his CG alter ego The Lizard. I was a little dismayed at first with the character’s inner voice, much akin to the Green Goblin in the first film, but when the action hits it’s strides, I was sold. There is one fight sequence in the school that just completely blew me away. The overall design and execution of the Lizard is fantastic, retaining just a small part of it’s humanity. In the end though, the Lizard as the bad guy (as much as I liked him) pretty much hits all the same notes as the Green Goblin in Raimi’s first outing. It’s really hard not to compare the two.
Bottom line, I loved The Amazing Spiderman. Compared to Raimi’s trilogy, Marc Webb comes out on top, and for me is the best Spiderman movie to date. I may not have been the biggest supporter of this reboot, but I’m happy it is what it is, and look forward to seeing where they take Spidey next! Also, there is a mid credit clip that hints at something… but I really hope they’re not going there…again. Until then though, The Amazing Spiderman is definitely worth checking out!