Review: The Amazing Spider-Man
(This is a repost from my Tumblr page on July 3rd, 2012)
It has been what seems like a short five years since we last saw Spider-Man on the big screen. Director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise was widely regarded as one of the great franchises in film history. Then the impossible to forget Spider-Man 3 reared its ugly head – impossible to forget only because Spider-Man 3 is infamous for being arguably one of the most disappointing films of the last decade.
This time around, the 500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb is at the helm for the web-slinging reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man. Webb brings his romantic style to this film and it is very evident in the dynamic between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy. Garfield is the perfect Peter Parker as he encapsulates the role in a way Tobey Maguire never could.
The 3D is surprisingly entertaining, seeing that it seems as if the majority of audiences are over the 3D fad. The 3D is particularly fun during certain POV scenes and also where we see Peter swinging from the peaks of New York City’s skyscrapers.
Visually, TASM is awesome. Cinematographer John Schwartzman has been director of photography on several films with heavy action (The Green Hornet, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor), but TASM is certainly to be the most impressive on his list. One shot that stands out is when we see Peter first don the suit as he stands atop a skyscraper, looking over the city. There is no denying that the action sequences are great and well executed – this is especially evident as the film hurdles to its conclusion.
Martin Sheen plays the father figure role well as Peter’s Uncle Ben, although it was a bit disappointing that Webb decided to leave out the famous “with great power comes great responsibility” quote. Academy Award winner Sally Field delivers a solid and emotional performance as Peter’s Aunt May, and Denis Leary seemed all too comfortable in the role of hard-nosed police officer and protective father as Gwen’s father George and Captain in the NYPD.
Opposite hero Peter Parker is Dr. Curt Connors. Played by Rhys Ifans, Connors is a bit of a sympathetic character, but he is definitely a formidable foe. With the help of Peter, Connors is able to create a formula that he subsequently injects in himself in an attempt to grow back his missing arm. Connors arm does grow back, but it comes with a terrible side effect. Connors is consequently transformed into a reptilian humanoid, known in the Marvel-verse as The Lizard. While Connors is in his human form, you can’t help but feel sympathetic toward his obsession with power and descent into lunacy.
There is no denying that the performances are great. The film is at its best when we see the dynamic between Peter and Gwen. On again, off again off-screen couple Garfield and Stone bring their outstanding real life chemistry to the screen. They do a fantastic job of making us feel like this is a true high school romance. One negative that can come out of this is that some of their relationship does feel very familiar, but the Peter-Gwen dynamic should be preferred over Peter-Mary Jane. Emma Stone doesn’t feel as annoying and nagging as Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson.
Garfield gives us a better Peter Paker than Maguire did, and we actually feel as if he is a high school kid struggling with the sudden superhuman abilities that were thrust upon him. He is also darker and more mysterious than Maguire, who always felt like a strange fit for the role.
Although the film is very enjoyable and entertaining, there are problems. Sony and Marc Webb promised us “the untold story”, and the audience is left feeling empty after it seems like the untold story remained an untold story. We’re introduced to Peter’s parents in the opening of the film, but we never find out the truth about them. It was just brought to light recently that this film was the beginning of a trilogy, so the story will most likely be carried out over the three films.
With Marvel’s The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and as DC’s The Dark Knight Rises casts its Bat-like shadow over the entertainment world, the summer of 2012 could give us three of the best movies of the superhero genre that we may ever see.
Although the film seems very familiar, Marc Webb has set the table for what could be another classic and exciting trilogy. The Amazing Spider-Man teaches us that with great power comes great responsibility, and delivers emotional punches that the previous trilogy couldn’t quite land. The Amazing Spider-Man is not the best Spider-Man film, but Andrew Garfield’s turn as Spidey is a return to form for the franchise after the disappointment that was Spider-Man 3.
[All images are copyright to Sony Pictures Digital Inc.]