As with Marvel’s previous release The Avengers, I had my doubts with The Amazing Spider-Man. Where do I even begin? It has been only five short years since Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire concluded their trilogy (and just so you know, Raimi was first to say his version of the story had been told, so no hard feelings there). The studio hired a total newbie, Marc Webb, to lead the charge, with only one film under his belt, and a low budget romantic comedy at that. I have no disrespect towards (500) Days of Summer, but it’s obviously quite different from a blockbuster superhero movie. However, The Avengers clearly overcame any negative chatter that may have accumulated over the past few years, and despite a plethora of criticisms from just about anyone with access to a keyboard, The Amazing Spider-Man has also proved something – that it has true potential to be the start of another insanely successful franchise. The fitting last name of the new director may have brought some luck to the whole production, but a lot of credit should also go to the all-star cast, particularly the young Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, who Denis Leary admitted at the press conference had forced him to up his acting game. As much as I may have enjoyed the film, I must say that it took some time to get used to a new Peter Parker in a new NYC atmosphere. I have mixed feelings about the fact that it’s a completely different Spider-Man story (well, for the most part), but that shouldn’t discredit quality filmmaking.
Similarly to 2002’s Spider-Man, we find Peter Parker (Garfield) in high school, where he chooses solitude over any type of social life. He is still dealing with being abandoned as a child, with no real clues as to where his parents could have gone, until one day he stumbles upon his father’s briefcase in the home of his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). Both veteran actors do a splendid job as Peter’s new parental figures, by the way. Information inside the mysterious briefcase leads him to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a former colleague of Richard Parker (Campbell Scott). He also finds his high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), interning there. The inception of their first love becomes an integral part of the story. Other than getting bitten by the love bug, Peter also experiences the stinging chomp of a genetically engineered spider, thus giving birth to New York City’s most popular superhero. Eventually, he makes some enemies, including Gwen’s father, Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary), along with the entire NYPD. Oh, and also a giant lizard that Dr. Connors transforms into after trying to regrow his right arm.
This retelling of the legendary Spider-Man is much darker than anything
we have seen before, but there are still some elements in the new film that also existed in the previous installments. There are plenty of laughs to be had, especially when Peter first discovers his incredible strength and when he tries to explain the biological threat of Dr. Connors to Captain Stacy. I don’t really think this is a SPOILER, but the fate of Uncle Ben is the same. Spider-Man takes a new approach to hunting down his killer though. And the overall reason for Peter Parker to take on a new identity has an even more sincere meaning this time around. Garfield
does a great job at showcasing this. He clearly has some acting chops after wowing audiences in The Social Network
and Broadway’s “Death of a Salesman,” which was absolutely phenomenal.
I have always been a fan of Raimi’s movies, but I have also wished to see the Spider-Man narrative told in a different way. I’m not sure if this is exactly how I envisioned it, but The Amazing Spider-Man has a lot of nice, fresh components. The 3D actually works. I can’t stand the third dimension on the big screen, but there are some great sequences that include some spectacular visuals. The new point-of-view, swinging through the city shots are…well, amazing. But this film is much more than a 3D popcorn motion picture. At the press conference, Sally Field described her scenes as “kitchen drama.” There are some truly emotional scenes and it’s weird to think that you’re experiencing them in a big budget 3D movie. The actors deserve some acclaim for that, as does Webb. Hearing about their work in interviews proves that everyone involved wanted to do the hero and his story justice.
While it was entertaining and way more than just an action flick, I could have used some J. Jonah Jameson or at least a few more goofy characters. However, Stan Lee has his best and most hilarious cameo to date. And besides, The Amazing Spider-Man is someone else’s interpretation. We wouldn’t want a complete remake of a film that came out just ten years ago. As great as Tobey Maguire was and as much as I may miss him in the Spidey suit, Andrew Garfield also makes a great Peter Parker. And the rest of the cast delivers the goods as well. My only other complaint is that The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t live up to the commercial tagline saying that the untold story will be revealed. There is much more to be uncovered and not a lot of real answers are actually given. Those will have to be unleashed in the inevitable sequels.
Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy,
and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr Curt Connors, his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.