Jul 08 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Published by at 4:35 am under Entertainment,Movies

My wife and I went to see the latest incarnation in the Spider-Man franchise tonight, The Amazing Spider-Man directed by Marc Webb. Ever since I can remember I have been facinated by Spider-Man. When we used to take family trips comic books were a standard in the car for the kids, they helped to keep my parents sane on the long drive. My oldest brother liked Thor and X-Men, my middle brother liked Iron Man, and my superhero of choice was Spider-Man. Since I have been into this particular corner of the Marvel Universe for so long please forgive this post if it gets a little nitpicky.

The movie stars Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Emma Stone (The Help, Crazy Stupid Love) as Gwen Stacy and Rhys Ifans (The Replacements) as Dr. Curt Conners/The Lizard. Rounding out the supporting cast is Denis Leary (Rescue Me) as Captain Stacy, Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now, The West Wing) as Uncle Ben and Sally Field (Forest Gump, Steel Magnolias) as Aunt May. This version retells (again) the origin of Spider-Man except this time the story focuses on the relationship of Peter Parker not with Mary Jane Watson but with his first love, Gwen Stacy. The story also includes a glimpse into the backstory of Peter’s parents and begins to delve into their disappearance.

I liked this movie and it will be interesting to see what they do in the future with the other two movies (it has been confimed that it will be a trilogy), but I feel that it falls short of the Sam Raimi films (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3). The special effects are fantastic but some of the action moves by so fast that with the 3D technology that it can sometimes be hard on the eyes.

From here on I will be discussing the movie itself so here I must place the standard….

The movie opens with Peter as a small boy playing hide and seek in his home when he walks into his father’s study and finds someone has broken in and his father’s research papers are strewn everywhere. At this point his father and mother come in and gather him up showing a sense of trepidation but not before Peter gets a glimpse of a strange logo on the Oscorp folder hidden in his father’s secret drawer. The family is then shown leaving Peter with Aunt May and Uncle Ben to keep him out of harm’s way and the anguish of doing so is intense between Peter and his father. So far so good.

Flash forward several years and Peter is now in high school and the now familiar story of how he became Spider-Man begins. Peter as a geeky high school science nerd, photographer and ever target of jock Flash Thompson. Peter find out that his Father’s partner at Oscorp was Dr. Curt Conners and through a series of events gets into Oscorp to meet him to try and find out more about the disappearance of his parents. Posing as a potential intern on a visit to Dr. Conners lab, Peter snoops around and ends up seeing the same logo that he saw years ago in his father’s study. Peter gains access to one of the labs and finds it holds thousands of genetically altered spiders (gasp- NO!) Peter is eventually bitten and starts down the familiar path to become Spider-Man. This is one of the areas I had issue with in this movie. Oscorp is supposed to be this high-security company but Peter can walk in and grab any intern badge without showing any ID, wander the halls and enter a top-secret lab, but I digress…

When we first meet Dr. Conners we see that he has lost his right arm and is studying the regenerative aspects of lizards in order to help mankind (and himself). Peter soon ends up identifying himself to Dr. Conners as Richard Parker’s son and then helping him solve the issue with the regenerative process issue. With this advancement the Board Members of Oscorp force Dr. Conners to move to human trials and when he refuses they fire him and take the research to start trials on wounded veterans. Unable to let the board do this, Dr. Conners tests his research on himself and ends up turning into a huge man-lizard hybrid, The Lizard! This transformation not only affected Dr Conners’ body but also his mind and he now wants to change the entire world into lizard-people. Peter feels responsible for the change that Dr. Conners underwent and must now stop him before he can release the gas that can change human-kind.

Pros and Cons:
This version of the Spider-Man saga does many thigs right but there are some things that bothered me as well. Lets start off with the Pros:
First of all, the story is great as it shows the struggle one man takes to try and help humanity but is forced by corporations to change his morals which changes him for the worse.  One aspect of this movie that I liked over Sam Raimi’s version is the inclusion of the web-shooters. In Sam Raimi’s movies Spider-Man’s web were organic and came directly from his wrists but in this version the webs now come from a gadget that Peter designs. The web-shooters were a staple in the comic books and I like that they now have them in the movies.  In my opinion Peter should always be with Mary Jane but in telling the tale of Gwen Stacy I really liked Emma Stone in the role.  She did a much better job as Gwen than Kirsten Dunst did as Mary Jane.

And now the Cons:
One of the most recogizable omissions in the movies in the famous line that Uncle Ben says to Peter that focues’ him on the right path for good – “With great power comes great responsibility”. There is a speech that Uncle Ben gives him that is along these lines but it just doesn’t have the same impact.  Another aspect that was missing from this film was Spider-Man’s quips when he is fighting.  One of Spider-Man’s traits is that he is constantly saying funny things when he is battling his adversaries, this is to keep them off balance as well as to hide his own nervousness.  He does it once in the beginning when fighting a minor car thief but other than that it is non-existent.  And the final item, Peter’s financial status.  One of the things that makes Spider-Man a relatable superhero is that unlike the other superheros he still has his everyday problems, like money.  Peter is not rich and does not make any money as Spider-Man (how could Peter cash a check made out to “Spider-Man”) but in this movie, looking around Peter’s room, you see multiple custom skateboards, among other items, which are not cheap.  Oh yea, one final con that I almost forgot….. NO BRUCE CAMPBELL!

Overall this movie is really good, I keep comparing it to the previous version so, to put it in perspective, I would give the previous versions an A and this version a B or even a B+.  I still recommend it.

Movie Rating: 


A martini. Shaken, not stirred.

— James Bond [Sean Connery] (Goldfinger, 1964)

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