Release Date: July 3, 2012 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)
Studio: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Director: Marc Webb
Screenwriter: James Vanderbilt
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field
Genre: Action, Adventure
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of action and violence)
Official Website: TheAmazingSpiderMan.com
Are we skeptical? Of course we are! Tobey McGuire was last seen swinging amongst the buildings of New York City not five years ago. How many of you are, deep down inside, a little upset about how soon our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was rebooted? Not being a Marvel reader, you’d think I could care less about Spidey and the treatment he gets from the movie studios…I do care.
Even not being a fan of Spider-Man, I was still one of the thousands of little boys who grew up with his presence – whether it be on TV, comics, or costumes, he was there. For me, the greatest presence he’s had in my life was due to the magic of Sam Raimi and Golden Age writing skills of Stan Lee. Sure, I grew up with the terribly animated Hanna-Barbera cartoon, but the films are what made Spider-Man fun for me.
Now we come to a new era, with the trailers of the new web-slinging franchise feeling a but more like Twilight – complete with the messy, greased hair look and emo-like sensibilities, and darker undertones. One might think that this is a cheap move and will only end up in failure.
To be honest, that’s far from the truth, and in many ways, this Spidey film is better than Raimi’s.
Andrew Garfield is about the same age that Tobey Maguire was when he first put on the red and blue suit. Maguire, no doubt, will maintain the label of being Spider-Man, (and one of the best at that) but Garfield might just have him beat in one very significant area. How convincing can someone be as a teenager? When Spider-Man came out in 2002, even then I was laughing (on the inside) at how poorly Maguire played the part of a typical teenager. Once I saw Garfield’s portrayal of such, I relaxed and knew that, finally, Peter Parker was going to be treated right.
This Peter Parker is a skateboarder, and not very good with Science. Which is interesting since athleticism was originally not a defining characteristic of Stan Lee’s Peter Parker who loved science and the inner workings of life. Of course, he’s still somewhat of a techie, knowing how to build contraptions and gadgets, but knows very little about the inner workings of science – all of his ideas come from eavesdropping on his fellow classmates who geek-out during their public displays of nerd talk. He seemed very much like a typical teenager that any one of us could relate to while maintaining some of the geeky characteristics that make him stick out as a protagonist.
Garfield and Emma Stone work exceptionally well together. (I’m sorry Kirsten, but you and Tobey had some issues as a couple.) Of course the script helped with that connectivity, but the two were able to bring that believability to the screen. Stone also stands on her own well and delivers the original love interest of Spidey with such flare and confidence – and not so over acted as Dunst’s MJ.
Mark Webb presents a new cast that we can take much more seriously than the Raimi cast. Sally Fields and Martin Sheen star as Aunt May and Uncle Ben, who give the characters a much more realistic role that doesn’t make you giggle every time you see their faces. Likewise Rhys Ifans delivers a truly convincing Dr. Conners, despite the strange and abrupt development the character makes.
In the film, Dr. Conners, one arm and all, comes off as genuinely good, wanting to do his best at providing humanity with all their hopes and dreams of being more than what they are. But once the Lizard came into play, all of the sudden he changed his viewpoint from loving humanity, to hating it – compelling him to change everyone into a “higher state of evolution” – a world of lizard people! It was a weird transition from nice guy to lunatic, and I didn’t buy into as much as Webb wanted, I’m sure.
There were many dull moments as well that could have been handled differently. The overall color scheme of the film gave it an ever stagnate feel. The film never grew in cinematography – keeping the outside scenes dark and during the night, and the inside scene bright and happy. But maybe that’s what Webb was going for and I need to stop worrying about the small details right?
Spidey fans will love how Webb goes back to the roots of Spider-Man with the web-shooter and Gwen Stacey being Pete’s first love. But some new surprises also come along with this rebooted Spider-Man installment – we get to meet Parker’s parents and discover a new mystery that takes Pete’s family to a whole new level of angst! There’s also an intriguing connection between Parker’s origin as Spider-Man and Dr. Conner’s quest to fuse Human and animal DNA. It was a nice way to open up this origin story as the connections to Oscorp and the science of Parker’s dilemma make for a truly invigorating story.
While it’s never articulated in these exact words, the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility” comes out as strongly as it did with Raimi’s rendition. This film, in many ways, portrays the notion even better with Peter Parker believing in what his uncle taught more and more as the film pushes forward. Even though it’s still annoying that they decided to reboot the series so soon, I can, without a doubt, tell you all that the Amazing Spider-Man is an entertaining film with qualities that surpass the original intent of Spider-Man without bastardizing the character. It’s a wonderful story that’s polished for audiences new and old.