By: Lawrence Foster
Rating: 9 out of 10
For every X-Men: First Class (which is good) there is a film like A Nightmare on Elm Street (which was, you guessed it, horrible).
Given that mixed bag of films, it was no surprise that many people were skeptical of Columbia’s decision to re-boot its cash-cow franchise Spider-Man.
Luckily for movie-goers, The Amazing Spider-Man tops the 2002 version of Spidey in every way imaginable.
One of the most prevalent arguments about making The Amazing Spider-Man was that re-booting the franchise would mean having to go over an origin story again.
*Spoiler Alert* Starting from scratch did requires The Amazing Spider-Man to go over how Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) became the webbed-one and the inevitable murder of Parker’s Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). At the most basic level, yes, we have seen this before, but thankfully for the most part movies aren’t basic.
Director Marc Webb (I’m not making up that last name), did a fantastic job of making something we know is coming seem fresh. From Parker’s trials and tribulations with his new-found powers to the senseless murder of Uncle Ben, Webb makes the audience feel like they are witnessing these events for the first time.
The biggest strength of The Amazing Spider-Man lies with its two main characters: Parker and his love interest, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).
Garfield and Stone are leaps and bounds better as an on-screen couple than Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. While much of Maguire’s and Dunst’s relationship seemed forced and lacked any type of fire, Stone and Garfield are at the other end of the spectrum.
From a simple chat in class in which Stacy takes a humorous approach to figuring out Parker’s name, to their first kiss on a roof top, Stone and Garfield make a strong case for movie couple of the year.
Even when not with Stacy, Garfield takes control of the Spider-Man/Peter Parker character and makes it his own.
Part of what helps him own the character is that Webb delves into why Parker ended up living with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben. For fans of Spidey, who aren’t fans of the comic series (like myself), that was never touched upon in the original trilogy. While the entire answer to why he is given to his aunt and uncle isn’t clear, the audience at least gets a partial answer.
Not knowing why your parents left you would be hard on any child and Garfield does an amazing (pun intended) of showing the emotion of that even a decade later.
The supporting cast deserves some praise as well. Sheen seems like he was destined to play Uncle Ben, while Denis Leary’s take of Captain Stacy (Gwen’s father) provides one of the highlights of the movie with his dinner conversation with Parker.
Aside from the story and characters being better than the 2002 film, I can’t discuss a comic book/super hero movie without talking about the visual effects and inevitable showdown between hero and villain.
Visually, this is the first film in an extremely long time that I would recommend seeing in 3D. While most films make the extra dimension seem like it was tacked on to squeeze that few extra bucks out of everyone’s wallet, The Amazing Spider-Man uses the 3D to enhance the movie. What particularly drew my attention was the brief moments where the film goes into a first-person view as Spider-Man swings through the city.
The baddie in the film is Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard (Rhys Ifans). Connors has a history with the Parker family: He worked on a special project with Peter’s father, but was understandably upset when Richard Parker (Campbell Scott) mysteriously disappeared.
Luckily for Connors, seeking some answers about his parents, Peter tracks down Connors and gives him an equation that proves to be the missing piece of the proverbial puzzle that Connors has been working on.
Unfortunately for Connors, he must not have watched past comic book/super hero movies, otherwise he would have known that testing the newly completed “puzzle” on himself would lead him to the dark side.
After the transformation, Spider-Man and The Lizard have a couple of close encounters, before the big battle. Normally the big showdown with the hero and villain is saved for the end of the film, but in The Amazing Spider-Man, it takes place elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as awesome.
While the battle at the school is great on its own, Webb is able to fit in a cameo that pushes the bout into epic territory.
From start to finish, The Amazing Spider-Man surpasses the 2002 Spider-Man in every way. From the seemingly fresh story to the fantastic cast and effective use of 3D, The Amazing Spider-Man is a must watch summer film that has something for everyone.