THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Sony Pictures, Rated PG-13
By Michael Ventimiglia
3.5 Stars. Though it’s only been 10 years since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man swung onto screens and cemented the comic book movie genre, Spider-Man is back with a whole new spin. The Sony Pictures franchise reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, showcases a new take on the beloved character and his world, and for the most part, it delivers.
The story centers on a young high school outcast, Peter Parker, who is abandoned by his parents as a boy. Now living with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, Peter uncovers a family secret and sets out to learn more about his parents’ mysterious disappearance, and is set on a collision course with his father’s old partner, Oscorp scientist Curt Connors. As Spider-Man, Peter comes into conflict with Connors’ alter ego, The Lizard, all while growing and figuring out who he is and how to use his powers for the greater good.
With a tight story and some new twists, The Amazing Spider-Man manages to balance the old with the new to create a successful reboot. A new tone, cast, villain, costume, and love interest helps differentiate this film from previous works as well. Though some relationships could use a little more development time, the film does a nice job of balancing sub-plots.
Unsurprisingly enough the film was released in 3D; however, unlike most current blockbusters, it was shot in the 3D format instead of the usual post conversion technique. As a result, there are some pretty great effects layered in depth and scope, which provides more impressive action sequences. Though some of the CG is dodgy at times, overall TASM delivers solid summer blockbuster spectacle.
But despite solid effects, the heart of this film lies solely with its actors, specifically its leads. Andrew Garfield creates a Peter Parker that’s more human than ever, and Emma Stone charms as Gwen Stacy. These two have a much more appealing dynamic and charisma that was somewhat lacking in the franchise previous installments.
Aside from the leads, Spidey’s supporting cast is in capable hands, at least for the most part. Martin Sheen and Denis Leary show their father muscles, and Rhys Ifans crawls under your skin and into your heart. However, there are some miscasts present, i.e. Sally Field and the bipolar and oblivious Aunt May.
Aside from actors, some of Spidey’s supporting cast cant help but get swept under the rug. Mischaracterization is present; however, its in small amounts, and presumably serves the bigger story. With a runtime of just over 2 hours the film has a fast pace, and unfortunately sacrifices some development along the way.
All in all, The Amazing Spider-Man works. It may not live up to the original, but it helps rinse out the taste of the unanimously loathed Spider-Man 3. This film manages to find a voice that is unique and new for the character, all while staying true to the mythos of the Marvel Comics character. Though ‘Amazing’ may not be a completely fitting adjective, Sony’s reboot restores life to Spider-Man.
By Prairie Miller
3 stars. Just as formidable as fighting crime Spidey’s way in the new and occasionally different The Amazing Spider-Man, is spinning a tale that captivates in a really crowded field of comic book derived action blockbusters. But this reboot of a well-worn classic does bring something rare to corporate filmmaking. Namely, with the input of indie director Marc Webb ((500) Days Of Summer), lots of heart amid the loads of hi-tech mechanical wizardry.
And that is helped not in the least, in bypassing a celebrity status actor as the main course, for Andrew Garfield. Which avoids the frequent extra-curricular challenge, in this case the enhanced without benefit of steroids high schooler, of doing battle in a way with oneself, in a toe to toe between superhero and superstar off screen.
In any case, an homage to the original comic book yarn remains pretty much intact, in a distraught young male world of powerless patriarchs and bad dad father figures. Along with that teen angst, sometimes I feel like a fatherless child vibe.
Garfield smoothly inhabits both Peter Parker and Spider-Man with a winning combination of humility, light humor and stylish intensity that bypasses any of the usual star power self-consciousness. Subjected to nasty bullying at school, especially at the hands of the simple minded hunk played by Chris Zylka, Parker astonishes himself as much as he does his ensuing villainous victims, with mysteriously miraculous new physical powers. And following that mixed blessing bite by a lab spider while investigating what might have befallen his deceased dad at the suspect cross-species experimental science institute where he worked. But you already know that story, and the movie adds little to that narrative thread.
What does amaze along the way, with comical pit stops such as Parker’s sudden inexplicable fondness for pigging out on frozen macaroni and cheese, is for instance the dual personality’s involuntary beatdown brawl confronting singlehandedly, a posse of menacing thugs riding the train. While potentially dispensing tips for audience subway survival, who knows.
Then there’s the obligatory first kiss romance between Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy. Potent, high octane erotic moments that emotionally enhance raging spider hormones to vivid lyrical effect, in the typical action movie more prone to excessively relying instead, on mechanical and technical elements to tell a story. Did I mention Rhys Ifans’ far too synthetic Lizard who substantially overstays his welcome.
So how does this Spidey incarnation measure up to all those previously preceding men in tights screen superheroes? The sheer sense of youthful invincibility and euphoria tempered by literal and figurative flight brought down to earth by something as mundane as remembering to pick up organic eggs for Aunt May (Sally Field) during time out from saving the world, is in large part worth the price of admission.
Or more to the point, close to the final fadeout of this top heavy special effects blockbuster with whimsical indie sensibility, a class lesson that says it all. Telegraphed to the students and the obsessive bells and whistles moviemakers out there alike, as back to basics advisory: ‘All stories have only one plot- Who Am I.’