Our Resident Comic-Nerd Doug Is Thrilled With ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’
This is certainly shaping up to be a great year for summer movies – at least financially. Just when you thought Marvel characters had shown all of their cards, a reboot of their most successful film adaptation (Pre-Avengers) is coming to the big screen before The Dark Knight Rises is finally released.
I’m aware that many were groaning from the outset with this remake. It’s only been 10 years since the last time this origin story was told and only 5 years since that film trilogy concluded. Oh, but what a difference a few years can make.
Sam Raimi’s iteration of the character felt out of time in some ways. The choices in script and direction were a callback to the Spider-Man of the 1960s – likely the Spider-Man Raimi grew up reading – but those films left much to be desired and have not aged gracefully. This time the relatively inexperienced director that is best known for his breakout hit 500 Days of Summer (as well as a long resume of music videos), Marc Webb, is given the opportunity (and task) of make the franchise relevant and fresh, once again. The result is a Spider-Man story that is both more modern and truer to the spirit of the character.
It’s almost a disservice to the filmmakers that the origin story of Spider-Man is so iconic because audiences expect the familiar beats. Fortunately, this film does a good job at making the well-known story fresh again by adding interesting cinematography and elements of the story that appear later in the canon, but certainly add to the allure and mystery of the Parker family. The origin story is told with better economy, is more visually appealing and sets itself up for a larger payoff that will, no doubt, pay dividends in future Spider-man films.
But, beyond the basic origin story of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), the film does a few things that separate itself from the other trilogy of films and thus, creating a more complex story. This story introduces Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) to the Spider-man movie universe first, which is an interesting choice because Mary Jane Watson is so well-known, however, purists will be quick to remind you that Gwen was actually, in fact, Peter Parker’s original love interest. This outgoing blonde’s father is the chief of police (Dennis Leary) that, in this film version, has a vendetta against Spider-man.
These things add layers of complexity to the iconic theme “with great power comes great responsibility.” While the Spider-Man story will always be about this theme, there is more to this iteration of the character. Peter is a smart kid, but he’s not as organized or as responsible as other versions of the character – he’s more realistic and relatable – more resourceful than genius, perhaps. All the better when it comes to the predicaments he finds himself in, especially with the physically superior villain, The Lizard.
While Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) tries to invent a biological fountain of youth, he is forced to test the product on himself and the results are devastating to himself and to New York City. The resulting action sequences play out with exhilarating set pieces that need to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated.
In terms of cinematography, the compositions are more unique and telling, the camera is more kinetic and the color palette is generally darker to give a more realistic feel to the story. There is simply a wider variety of cinematic brilliance in this film than in the previous Spider-Man films. The CGI is leaps and bounds above those other Spider-man films. It seems time has improved this aspect of the films the most, as it’s far more believable and far more satisfying to see this new Spider-Man sling through the streets and rooftops.
This is not to say that The Amazing Spider-Man is without its cheesiness. Sure, the creative team has successfully created a believable Spider-Man but, some of the audience members will groan “oh, brother” a handful of times throughout the film. I suppose it’s unavoidable when creating a somewhat light-hearted superhero. But, these can all be forgiven when looking at the larger picture of the film.
What more can be said about The Amazing Spider-Man? This is a modern revamp of a Spider-Man movie that was slightly behind. This is the Spider-Man movie that should have been made in the first place (Here’s to hoping Garfield won’t be doing any dance moves to humiliate Gwen Stacy in a jazz bar.)
This movie pays fan services in subtle ways (web-slingers over spinnerets!) and rewards audiences for their patience: another great Marvel superhero film.