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The Amazing Spider-Man


Today should be the 150th post Battle Royale, but with the holiday and friends visiting I didn’t get a chance to view the movies I had lined up. Instead, you’re getting a Spider-Man review and will have to wait for the BR. Sorry. At least, this is a semi-Battle Royale since The Amazing Spider-Man is naturally compared to its predecessor. Thankfully, Andrew Garfield and co. successfully started a new franchise.

Grade:

In this installment, Peter (Garfield) is sent to live with his aunt and uncle (Sally Field and Martin Sheen) as his parents are fleeing unknown villains. One random day, Peter finds his father’s briefcase and the secret documents it contained. He then sets out to talk with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), Richard Parker’s former partner. As they begin (see: finish) their work on cross-species genetics, Peter builds a relationship with his crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). This is getting complex so just know that her father (Denis Leary) is the police captain and thinks of Spidey as a criminal, while Connors becomes the Lizard. Biological warfare ensues.

Since that plot description was way too long you can safely assume the film is proportionally long. At 136 min, Spider-Man takes a long time to get its feet off the ground. Since the trailers and advertising for the film set up a battle with the Lizard and a new love interest, there wasn’t much detail given as to how this version would set everything up. Rest assured, there is an origin story and it is just as extensive as the Tobey Maguire-helmed Spidey. It’s entertaining and more humorous than expected, but it takes a while. Thankfully, once the film gets going it keeps a solid level of interest throughout.

I have never (and will never) be a comic book reader, so I did not know Spidey was different in the Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy versions. Here, Spiderman has contraptions attached to his wrists with Oscorp-created wire to act as his webbing. The only powers he receives from the spider are heightened senses, strength and stickiness—they really play up the stickiness when it first happens. This adds a realistic element to the film, and hero, as he is more vulnerable. To put it bluntly, he is a worse Spiderman.

Where Maguire’s hero was strong and relatively untouchable, Garfield’s Spiderman gets the hell beat out of him for most of the film. He makes mistakes and is generally less capable of fighting villains. Maybe the Lizard is a stronger foe than Dr. Octopus or the Green Goblin (I’m not gonna mention the third elephant in the room), but I doubt that. In this manner, Garfield’s character is much better.

There were clear Nolan influences here as he “becomes the hero the city needs him to be”, but Garfield makes the character his own. He has stated in interviews that he was a giant Spiderman fan as a kid, so, much like David Tennant and Dr. Who, that qualifies him as the best possible casting. In my mind and from what I’ve heard about the Peter Parker character, he kills it. He is unbelievably awkward, smart and adequately battles the raised ego he gets from the powers with his moral standards. It shows that Garfield (28) has a stronger grasp on what a “nerdy” teenager is like nowadays than Maguire did.

Meanwhile, you could not have chosen a better supporting cast for Garfield. Stone does really well as the love interest that is also a confidant (of which the number grows and grows). Sheen and Field are mainstays in the acting world, so they contribute on par with their reputations. Rhys Ifans, along with the young stars, comes out on top by balancing the handicap of Dr. Connors with the rage of the Lizard and his sense of duty to the Parker family.

The Amazing Spider-Man is campy and cheesy—much more so than expected. It has a good amount of humor. The action is subpar and the story takes a long time to develop. So as you can see, there are positives and negatives that can be polished in the second try. It’s still a very entertaining film and I’d recommend seeing it.

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  1. Good flick but something just felt like it was missing in order for me to feel the same way I did with the Raimi original series. Maybe it was the fact that this flick took its premise very seriously, and the other ones were very jokey and fun. Still, a good time at the theater is a good time none the less. Nice review.

    • Thanks! I thought this one balanced the jokes and the serious aspects fairly well, but I agree something was kind of off from making it a truly great version. At least it was entertaining, like you said.

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