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Amazing Spider-Man, The (2012)
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Ryhs Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, C. Thomas Howell, Chris Zylka, Embeth Davidtz, Stan Lee
James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves
The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans), his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.
Amazing Spider-Man, The (2012) | Review
You Know What? It IS Pretty Amazing
Much of the film's heart and charm lies with Andrew Garfield as Peter/Spidey. I was never entirely sold on Tobey McGuire, and Garfield definitely plays a more likeable Peter. He's still socially awkward and a bit odd as an outcast, but he's also moody, angsty, sarcastic, and in general, just acts more like a teenager; in and out of costume. Plus, his scenes with Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey are some of the best in the movie, which is the other part of the equation. Again, I was never totally sold on Kirsten Dunst, and I'm glad this movie didn't go the Mary Jane Watson route. The scenes between Gwen and Peter are awkward and anxious, but also sweet and endearing. They give the movie a lot of heart and help set it apart from the previous films.
The rest of the cast is also solid. Martin Sheen makes for a fine Uncle Ben, and Sally Field plays a different kind of Aunt May who still feels very much like the character should. I'm sad to say that the weakest link is probably Rhys Ifans. That's not because of his performance, but rather with how his character is developed. The movie very much wants to make him a sympathetic character, not unlike another doctor who ended up with eight appendages, but something just doesn't click. I also wasn't entirely sold on the look of the Lizard. I honestly don't know what could have been done differently, but again, something was just a bit off. So overall, Conners/The Lizard just didn't quite work for me; they weren't bad per se, but it just doesn't hit the notes it was going for. I also found the whole "hearing voices" thing to be a tad too reminiscent of Norman Osborne/Green Goblin.
This movie is also a slow burn; taking a page from that Batman Begins/Dark Knight playbook. That's a risk, especially since it's essentially retelling the same origin we saw not all that long ago in another movie about Spider-Man. However, by taking the time to develop things more and delve into the origin process, it makes the payoff better. There's a great development and progression to Peter learning what's he's capable of, and why he needs to be careful (or responsible, if you prefer) with it. And again, some of his reactions just ring true to how a moody teenager might use such new found powers. It takes quite a while before he ever dons the suit, but the journey towards that moment is enjoyable as we see the learning curve he goes through while getting to that point. I especially love that we get to see Peter as a smart, scientific person through little moments here and there spread throughout the movie (like when he develops his web shooters). There are also some interesting changes made to the origin story, giving it more mystery and an ominous sense of danger that runs as an undercurrent through the movie. Some may not like the alterations, but I thought they were interesting and worked well.
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