Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, Campbell Scott, and Martin Sheen

Directed by Marc Webb

Release Date: July 3rd, 2012

Teenager Peter Parker (Garfield) lives a quiet life with his Aunt May (Field) and Uncle Ben (Sheen). At school, he tries to muster the courage to talk to Gwen Stacy (Stone) to no avail. Soon, he makes a discovery about his deceased father and his partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans). Going to Connors' lab at OsCorp, Peter gets into a restricted area where he's bitten by a radioactive spider............

I liked the original Spider-Man films by Sam Raimi. Sure, Spider-Man 3 was flawed (if I can be kind), but I feel that overall Raimi did a good job of adapting the web-head and felt a lot of love and passion from the crew and most of the cast (I'm looking at you, Kristen Dunst). So, I wasn't really sure why we needed a reboot only a decade after Spider-Man came out. None the less, here we are.

What works: Overall, I like the cast. Andrew Garfield makes a convincing performance as Parker/Spider-Man. When I originally saw the trailer, I wasn't a fan of his overly mopey appearance, his hangdog attitude, and once again, I was proven wrong. I thought about it, and it makes sense that in 2012, Peter Parker would  be more of a "hoodie" wearing nerd rather than a 1960s nerd that I read in the comics, so skateboards are in and polo shirts are out. Then, once he becomes Spider-Man, Peter gradually gains more confidence rather than just completely change his character. I thought that Garfield and the screenwriters did a good job of making Peter's character growth not only believable, but very honest.

Next, I really enjoyed the performances by Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans as Gwen Stacey and Curt Connors/The Lizard. Now, while many people know Mary Jane Watson from the films, comic book fans will be more familiar with Gwen Stacey, one of Peter's earliest loves and a very integral part of the Spider-Man saga. Here, Stone uses her comedic timing and charming personality to make Gwen not only a lovely person, but someone just as smart as Peter, and willing to be just as brave as him. Seriously, if Stone isn't back in the sequel, I'll be disappointed. Ifans makes a good performance as Connors/The Lizard, using a very slow and gradual buildup from trusted mentor to psychotic lizard-person. I really understood his motivation and it does vary from the traditional "take over the world" plan villains usually have.

Then, there's something that Raimi forgot from his Spider-Man movies: make Spidey funny. I think in 3 Spider-Man movies, he only makes 3 or 4 quips. That's insulting. In the comics, one of Spider-Mans's greatest traits is his banter with a villain. I then heard the "small knives!" joke in the trailer, and I knew Webb knew how to make the character more faithful to the comics, which includes using his mechanical web-shooters rather than use organic webbing.

What fails: There's a character who's meant to be a mysterious and menacing figure at OsCorp.......but you'll never hear his name in the movie and he disappears halfway through the movie! Who was this character? Why does he speak for Norman Osborn? For that matter, Where is Norman? We are told he's dying, but we never see it. Look, I get it: they want a big name to play the character in another movie, but that's just lazy. Either use the character, or omit him from the script.  Also, I didn't like the casting of Sally Field as Aunt May. I know it's a small part, but Field doesn't fit the character for me and I hope they recast Aunt May in the sequel.

Final Thoughts: A good movie, with a few minor nitpicks.

Rating: 4.2 out of 5

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