Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

I'm not going to lie, July 3 absolutely snuck up on me. I fully realized that The Amazing Spider-Man was being released the day before Independence Day, but I still somehow let it creep up. So, on a whim, I decided to attend the midnight premiere of the film and boy am I glad that I did. Let met first say, and I am definitely sure that I am echoing the thoughts of others when I say that Marc Webb's take on Spider-Man is extremely detatched from the Sam Raimi venture which began a decade ago. (Digression: Wow, it came out the Spring of my Freshman year of high school. I saw it at the drive-in and it was awesome. Now, back to the regularly scheduled review.)

As I have said before, I am very new to comics so I cannot give first-hand knowledge about how The Amazing Spider-Man fits in with the various comic universes. I do understand that writer Vanderbilt drew a lot from the Ultimate Universe. That being said, that is really all I can provide regarding the comic book origins of Webb's story. It's been five years since the last film in Raimi's trilogy was released. Spider-Man 3 was definitely a movie that I think we can all wish we could forget, but sadly the soft-shoe is ingrained in my memory. 500 Day of Summer director Mark Webb takes us down a much different road than the iconic Sam Raimi did. On this path, we actually get a good glimpse at Peter Parker's parents and the mysteries of his origin truly start to unravel. Who is really to blame and why do they want to quell the mystery?

Of the many great choices Webb made, starting with a clean slate was probably the best. We have all new actors and he used them well. The ensemble, including Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field, worked quite well together. The villain, Lizard/Dr. Connors, portrayed by Rhys Ifans, was well-rounded. There were equal parts humanity and something ... more. I also enjoyed the interplay between Sheen and Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May. However, the true testiment to Webb's new take on the story was Peter's parents. If there was one thing that I wish Raimi had explored, the disappearance/death of Richard and Mary Parker would be it. It is not hard to guess from the previews that Peter does indeed go on a quest to find some shred of information about his father and his work. The relationship of this to the driving action of the story is extremely interesting. Oh, and The Daily Bugle gets a nice 21st century twist.

I'm trying very hard not to compare Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man and Raimi's Spider-Man, but it is difficult not to as the trajectory is the same with both films. We are introduced to Peter Parker as this awkard, nerdy high schooler who for whatever reason gets bit by a spider and gains "super powers." Would it be safe to say that it is really a mutation? Regardless, he has to deal with this and in turn becomes a bit of a recluse. There's a girl, there's family drama, there's vigilante justice which all lead him to be a hero for the people. The elements are there in both movies and I think that in Webb's take they were pulled off quite well. I enjoyed the "becoming Spider-Man" montage and the nods to the comic books/Raimi's film that are apparent. Sadly, no cameo by Bruce Campbell. I do like this treatment of Gwen Stacy.

There are moments which are humorous, touching, contemplative, and fast-paced. The beginning was a bit slow, but once it took off there was really no stopping it and it definitely ended on a strong note.

Why should you see it: Andrew Garfield's perfectly timed jokes, Emma Stone's strong character, Rhys Ifans' portrayal of Dr. Connors. There's a good balance of the romance between Stone and Garfield and the action. Hell, sometimes it goes hand in hand. The way in which Uncle Ben communicates with Peter is extremely heartfelt. It's a movie that will be fun for the whole family. Skip the 3D. I saw it in 2D and it was just fine. Be sure to stay after the credits!

4.5 Stars!

Please, and I mean this truly, do not try to compare The Amazing Spider-Man to The Dark Knight Rises. They are two completely different film. Maybe they in some way share a common audience, but the darker twinges of The Amazing Spider-Man do not in any way overshadow the campy fun that makes Spider-Man what it is.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! I'm excited to see it! Thanks for the review!