On Sunday I went to see The Amazing Spider Man, the newest reboot of the Spider Man franchise. When I first heard that Marvel was once again trying to make a Spider Man movie I was pretty skeptical about it. But when I saw the first full trailer I got pretty excited, and I had pretty high hopes going into it. And, for the most part, I’d say this movie met them. They’ve finally done Spider Man RIGHT.
The Amazing Spider Man (directed by Marc Web) once again revisits Spider Man’s origin story, this time paying a bit more attention to the original comics than the Tobey Maguire movies did. I assume by now that most people (if not everyone) knows what the basic origin story is, right? I don’t want to give too much away, but I think it’s safe to talk about the basics: Peter Parker’s parents disappear one night when he’s young, leaving him in the care of his Uncle Ben and Aunt May, and never returning. It’s presumed they are dead, though it is never confirmed. Peter Parker, now a teenager in high school, is a bit of a geek/outcast, with more smarts than he really knows what to do with, and who has a crush on beautiful, popular Gwen Stacey. Then, in a series of events that I’ll let you watch (the way they did in this movie was actually pretty funny), Peter is bitten by a genetically-altered spider, and everything gets crazy for him from there.
One of the main things this version did right was the simple fact of Gwen Stacey’s presence in the movie. Most non-comics fans are only really familiar with Mary-Jane as Peter’s love interest, but in the comics Gwen Stacey is around first and for a long time before Mary-Jane shows up. Mary-Jane only because the love interest as Gwen has died – no, I’m not giving away anything, I swear: Gwen does not die in the movie, and I have NO IDEA how or even IF the movies will deal with that plot line from the comics. In any case, I was so happy Gwen was in this movie. I’ve always found Mary-Jane to be a fairly annoying character, actually, and I’ve always liked Gwen much MUCH more. And, of course, Emma Stone did a superb job portraying her: she’s whip-smart, spunky, and compassionate.
Then, of course, there is the casting choice for Peter/Spider Man. Andrew Garfield was the PERFECT choice. He looks right – he’s got the long, thin, wiry look to him that just works for Spider Man. He gave the character so much of the sarcasm and feistiness that was missing in the Tobey Maguire versions, and while he has a few moments of angst, he’s not whiny like Tobey Maguire’s version was. He really just did a fantastic job with the character. Also, the suit looks AWESOME.
And the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone! I’ve been reading comments about it on various pre-release comments and reviews for a while, and they are not exaggerated. The chemistry was wonderfully palpable. It’s easy to believe that these two actors ended up dating in real life. They just look RIGHT together.
The one complaint I’ve heard is that while the scenes between Peter and Gwen are well done: well-written, well-acted, etc, the constant back and forth between the slower relationship scenes and the more action-y plot-important scenes slows the pace down too much in the movie. I haven’t decided yet exactly how I feel about it. For the most part I disagree. As I was watching it, I didn’t feel that the pace suffered much, if at all. However, when I think about it, I can still see how someone might make that argument. I myself was fine with the way they did it: the movie is, to me at least, more about the relationships, and about Peter’s personal growth, and the focus doesn’t necessary NEED to stay exclusively on the action/adventure stuff. But if you go into really wanting it to be a high-energy action film (like Avengers, perhaps) you will be just a touch disappointed by the slower pace.
That is, however, the ONLY criticism I think anyone can really make about the movie.
The plot, despite the relationship stuff, is still important and tense. And I really like the villain, Curt Connors (aka, Lizard). What I liked is that he’s not REALLY a villain. I mean, he’s not evil. He’s sympathetic, and we as an audience get to watch his slow slide into bad decisions and madness. He feels very human and flawed and desperate, rather than some kind of cliché, over-the-top, one-dimensional comic book villain. And I really appreciated that.
And then, of course, the cinematography (by John Schwartzmann) was wonderful. Absolutely GORGEOUS to watch. Rich color, detailed settings – with some really great shots of New York City, and some great angles and panning shots too. I’ve read a criticism about the musical score (by James Horner, of course) somewhere (I can’t remember where now) but I don’t really agree. I thought the score had great power and emotion, some dark lows and some bright highs, and a big epic feeling.
All in all, The Amazing Spider Man was a fantastic, wonderfully enjoyable movie, and I highly recommend it to anyone who looks comic book movies, or just a good adventure film.
Now, for a look at some of the science behind the movie, please check out my friend Andrew Kincaid’s discussion: “Comic Book Science Is Right For Once (Sort Of) – A Qausi-Review of The Amazing Spider Man.”