I finally managed to see The Amazing Spider-man in the theater (a week after its release) and was excited to find out how it would fare against the three previous Spidey movies which starred Tobey Maguire. I admit that when I first learned that The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield was tapped for the role of the young Spider-man, I was a bit apprehensive, not because I’m such a big fan of ole Tobey but because I thought Andrew was too gangly.
When I saw him on a youtube clip however, crashing a Comic Con panel dressed as Spider-man and surprising the fans, I was given a glimpse of his wit and sense of humor, which I thought were just right for the role of Peter Parker/Spidey, who is a character known for his endless wisecracks and laid back attitude. This, I thought was what was generally missing in Maguire’s portrayal in the earlier movies. He seemed to be too weighed down with Peter’s dilemmas that he doesn’t really truly let go and let himself embrace Spider-man’s personality.
Anyway, The Amazing Spider-man delves deeper into the origins of the web slinging superhero. This version of the story focuses on Peter Parker’s younger years — why he was living with Aunt May and Uncle Ben in the first place, what his parents’ connection to Oscorp was and his early romance with Gwen Stacy, who just happens to be the chief of police’s daughter — a chief of police who incidentally hates Peter’s guts. And of course, as audiences discover a couple of new things about Spider-man, they also learn about his first arch nemesis Lizard aka Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a well meaning scientist who wants to create a world without weakness but later finds himself corrupted by the serum originally intended to regenerate his amputated arm. This version chronicles Peter’s journey to discovery about his true mission which gradually unfolds as the story progresses.
I think this is the best version of Spider-man so far. I want to get that out this early. What I liked about the movie was that it carved a new niche for itself in the already established Spider-man franchise. Director Mark Webb knew that this movie was going to be compared to the earlier blockbuster releases so he made sure to create a new following with this new franchise, all the while ensuring that he also brings the journey to the old fans. Tapping a younger guy to play Peter, a rather ordinary high schooler with extraordinary intelligence and a genuine compulsion to do what is right, the film reintroduced the superhero with fresh new facets to his character. The teenage Peter was able to illustrate the wonder of new discovery and the freshness of youth with each scene, and the humor just feels right at home. And while Andrew Garfield may not be a classically good looking guy, he oozes charm and likeability and has a depth in his portrayal that enables him to shift from carefree to serious without missing a beat.
I liked that Spider-man learned about himself and his mission not instantly but slowly as he saw himself through the eyes of different people — his uncle, aunt, Gwen and even captain Stacey. His character showed flaws — stubbornness and impulsiveness which is not uncommon for teens and it showed him making mistakes and doing things to rectify them. I liked that all of the characters have the element of humanity — even the Lizard was not completely evil. The A-list cast did not hurt the movie either but unlike other blockbusters who rely on the big names to carry the movie, each star was utilized well and cast for the perfect parts. Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May were flawless and Emma Stone was picture perfect as Gwen Stacy. She was cute and spunky, all that Peter’s first love was supposed to be. I don’t know much about Captain Stacy but I couldn’t imagine Denis Leary doing any better. He was great. Stan Lee’s cameo was also priceless. Its one thing to see him in small roles for other Marvel movies but to see him in the movie of a character that he created (and is best known for) is epic.
Aside from the cast, the movie also felt seamless, as if each scene was lifted out of a page from the actual comic book. The detail in the costume, the scoring and the effects, the cinematography. And even the story itself — it wasn’t as heavy as the earlier Spidey movies but it had, in my opinion more of an impact in its subtlety.
All in all, The Amazing Spider-man was indeed amazing. I still can’t get over how good it was. Can’t wait for the next one (for sure there’s bound to be a sequel). One word.. Awesome! I loved it.