Release: Tuesday, July 3, 2012
It’s difficult not to style a review of The Amazing Spider-man in a compare-contrast manner; let’s face it, we only just got over seeing Tobey Maguire donning the red-and-blue a few years ago. However, let the record be set straight: there was so much room for improvement in the cartoonish early-2000s film about a boy whose spider bite yields a new life with strange abilities.
Marc Webb decided to set off on a mission to gruff up Peter Parker a bit — make it just a bit more believable that an actor could pull off the true outcast look that was trademark comic book Spider-man. That applied to more than just spiking up Andrew Garfield’s hair, or incidentally hiring Willem Dafoe’s doppelgänger as the cop-slash-father of Spidey’s love interest. A decade after Maguire made slinging webs (and himself) between gleaming skyscrapers look more than glamorous, we get a slightly darker image of who Spider-man really was. We get the truth.
The Amazing Spider-man is deftly edited, quickly paced and notably more realistic. The individual discoveries Parker makes post-spiderbite are exhilarating happenings, not the gimme leaps and bounds Raimi had Parker go through magically. Whereas in the ’02 Spiderman, we have lost the cheesy dialogue, the so-called cutesy happenings of Spider-man in public, and we have gained a flesh-and-blood boy who has spider-like tendencies. Creepy. And damn cool.
Surrounding a revamped and punkier Peter Parker is a solid cast featuring Martin Sheen, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary and a cameo by the man himself, Stan Lee. Though none are allowed to breathe all the life into their respective roles in this one a great deal — at least, not as much as what we are perhaps accustomed to receiving from Mr. Sheen — what little time we get with each is a treat and makes the general storyline richer and more compelling, more human, than any that have come before. I’m sure we’ll hear from them more in the future.
Ifans comes the closest to slipping into cliche territory when he wigs out and transforms into the Lizard, though the moments where I felt a groan forming in my throat were brief and limited. Make no mistake, Dr. Curt Connor’s Lizard is far more ominous than that of Norman Osborn’s Green Goblin.
To delve into more detail would be to ultimately give the entire feature away. I will counter to a trend in current movie review opinion that this new release of Spider-man was either premature or unnecessary completely. I say neigh to both counts. For one, this was more true to the comic books. (What studio wouldn’t want to get this story right?) Secondly, it differs from the others more than critics are willing to give credit for. I think many people out there have simply been rubbed a little raw with the flurry of superhero action movies this year, for there is certainly room enough for this new re-telling of a classic.
Recommendation: Just go. Yes, it’s a quick re-boot. Yes, many scenes are recollections of the 2002-2007 franchise. So-called ‘repeated’ scenes may annoy some, but the death of Ben Parker and the look-alikes in the movie were necessary to not only stay true to a fan base, but to Stan Lee as well.
Running Time: 137 mins.
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