Title: The Amazing Spider Man (2012)
Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field
Many are saying that this new Spider-Man reboot has come to soon, that it’s too early for a reboot of the series, but you know what? Personally I don’t really care, this whole “too soon for reboot” theory is total boloney in my book, I’m happy to see a new Spider-Man film, happy to see an entirely different creative team behind it. Comic books do this all the time, they change creative teams, new writers and new artists mean a different take on the character. This offers us something refreshing and different, which is way better then getting same-o same-o all over again. So yes, I’m happy that Raimi isn’t directing and that it’s not Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the roles of Peter and Mary Jane. What this film offers us is a refreshing, new take on Spidey’s origin story. Whenever a new creative team is introduced the question is always “will they make it work?” What made this new Spidey film different? Were director Marc Webb, and actors Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone able to successfully bring these characters to life? Did they make a good Spider-Man film?
Though the origin story is familiar, somethings are different this time around. For example, story wise we get to see Spidey’s origin all over again; we go through the beats that Spidey’s origin has to go through in order to get Peter Parker swinging from his webs through New York City, but this time around the beats are slightly different. This means we see him going to Oscorp and getting bitten by a radioactive spider, Uncle Ben’s death is what impulses him to become the hero, and we see Parker training to master the art of wall crawling and web slinging. Sure, we’ve seen all these things before in the old spidey movies, but on this one these events happen in slightly different ways; for example, Parker doesn’t end up going to a wrestling match. What makes this origin story a bit different is that they actually reference Peter’s parents in a way that involves them in the story. In Raimi’s Spiderman films his parents aren’t mentioned and we simply take for granted that Parker’s an orphan living with his aunt and uncle; on this one there’s some mystery behind Peter’s parents. Also, we get a new villain with ‘The Lizard’, a scientist who’s missing his left arm and therefore experiments with the DNA of lizards, to see if he can grow his lost arm back, same as a lizard grows its tail.
Same as in the comic books, Spideys first girlfriend is Gwen Stacy, something that Raimi’s films overlooked and then tried to fix by introducing Stacy on the third film. On this one we start on the right track, with Peter and Stacy becoming romantically involved and hints of ominous events in their possible future together. The relationship angle between Peter and Stacy was not so schmaltzy; it felt a bit more real. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with Webb’s previous experience directing (500) Days of Summer (2009), a film that focused on relationships between young people. In this sense, choosing Marc Webb as this films director worked. He can handle performances and drama in a more realistic fashion than Raimi ever could, so that worked in this films favor. What worried me about Webb as a director was the fact that he’d never made a film with lots of action or effects before this one, but this all went surprisingly well. The action and effects were actually great, I had nothing to worry about. This film is surprisingly good when we take in consideration that this is Webb’s sophomore effort as a director.
The portrayal of Peter Parker this time around is far superior to Tobey Maguire’s overtly sentimental Peter Parker in previous Spiderman films. You don’t feel as if Peter’s a weak cry baby; so congrats go out to Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield for making this Spidey more intelligent and more of a scientist which is the way he was in the comics in the first place. Also, I liked the fact that he was more sure of himself, just because Peter’s a brainy geeky type doesn’t mean he has to come off as a whimpy cry baby. There’s this dinner scene in which Parker has a discrepancy with Gwen Stacy’s dad, they are discussing Spiderman and Mr. Stacy says Spidey’s a vigilante, while Parker defends Spiderman. I liked how Parker was standing up for himself in that scene, defending his point of view. He wasn’t afraid of being defiant. In my opinion, Raimi’s mistake in his Spidey films was making the character just a bit too sentimental. On this film Spidey is inexperienced and still a geek, but his not a whino. I also loved the great supporting cast! Martin Sheen is incredibly likable as Uncle Ben, Sally Field's great as Aunt May, Denis Leary as Mr. Stacy, such a well rounded cast makes for a better acted film in my opinion.
The visual effects are great on this film; the sequences in which Spiderman is swinging through the city were very effective because the action doesn’t happen so fast that we don’t understand what the hell is happening. Webb slows things down and speeds things up just right. The visual effects dealing with Spiderman were great in my book. The weak link in the film for me was the villain; I personally don’t enjoy characters that are entirely computer generated, so I didn’t really enjoy the way the lizard looked. It’s not horrendously bad, but it wasn’t great. Rhys Ifan’s the actor who portrays Dr. Connors, was nothing to write home about either, he didn’t steal the show, like say Jack Nicholson in Burtons Batman (1989). Whatever happened to those bigger than life villains in comic book movies? They tried portraying Dr. Connors as a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of character, hearing interior monologues and the such which by the way was a technique used with The Green Goblin character in the first batch of Spidey films; but the performance of the character itself wasn’t all that special. Spider-Man 2 (2002) remains the best Spider-Man film ever made, and not only that, one of the best superhero films ever made period; still, this new Spidey film is really damn good. I’m looking forward to what this new creative team has in store for future films. By the way, stay seated after the credits, there’s one of those extra ending things that hints at the inevitable sequel!
Rating: 4 out of 5