Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Movieholic: The Amazing Spider-Man

I am a fan of Spider-Man.   I've seen every Spider-Man movie the day they released.  I collect Spider-Man comics.  I have a Spider-Man water bottle.  I have played almost every Spider-Man video game.  I dressed up as Spider-Man when I was 9 years old and seriously considering doing that again at the age of 28. I think it's safe to assume that I may be biased towards Spider-Man.

However it doesn't matter that I am biased, because The Amazing Spider-Man(ASM) is a great movie.  It's fresh, it hits all the important Spider-Man lore plot points, and it gives a visual feast that web swingers the world over should be pleased with.

Synopsis: Young Peter Parker is playing when his parents discover someone has broken into their home, specifically Richard Parker's study.  The Parker parents rush Peter off to his Uncle Ben and Aunt May (Martin Sheen and Sally Field) and then leave.  Cut to teenage Peter (Andrew Garfield) as he deals with bullies, young love, and life in New York.  After discovering his father's briefcase, Peter goes to the Oscorp building where his father used to work.  Enter Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) as the head intern to Dr. Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans).  Now the players are on the board.

Peter gets bit by the infamous spider in the Oscorp building, and discovers he now has spider powers.  He also finds the courage to approach Dr. Conners about his work with animal DNA and helps the doctor find a way to regrow his lost limb, but with terrible consequences.  While falling for Gwen and fighting crime, Peter has to find a way to stop The Lizard and not lose his life in the process.

The director Marc Webb wanted a more intimate Spider-Man movie and that's what he delivered.  Garfield plays a more confident, funny, brilliant Peter Parker than I've seen in a long time.  He isn't constantly wallowing in darkness with guilt but he feels it hovering over him like a shadow.  Gwen matches Peter in verbal bouts of wit, but what fan of Emma Stone would expect less?   Ifans plays Conners headstrong and certain of his work to the point of personal risk, and Martin Sheen is a perfect Uncle Ben.

Everything about ASM is new but familiar.  Like a redesigned show that fits perfectly, ASM gives us the web swinging and losing loved ones that Spider-Man's world seems to require, but updated for a new generation of viewers and comic book fans.  I can't help but draw a comparison between ASM and the launch of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, where we know the story, but now we see a different angle.

I did spot a few spots that seemed off.  Gwen's mannerisms felt more like Emma Stone the actress than Gwen Stacy the character.  That isn't to say I disliked it, but it felt like Stone didn't know where to take the character.  Hopefully she'll find her way in the sequel.  I was also skeptical about scenes where Peter is testing his new powers by skateboarding.  Maybe I'm just stubborn about arts of the source material, but hopping around on a skateboard seems like a commercial for an energy drink and less a way for a super hero to find his groove.

Luckily everything comes together for a clear reason and the writers and director don't toss a pointless scene at us.  Whether it's Peter fighting back against bullies, Gwen having a funny back and forth with her father, or Dr. Conners being ominous while shoving Peter away, everything fits together and ties up any loose ends.  Even if Spider-Man isn't your favorite comic book character, please so see The Amazing Spider-Man.  It has action, comedy, romance, a lizard monster, and a new Spider-Man you'll want to see return in the future.

P.S. The Stan Lee cameo is one of the best I've ever seen.  You can't miss him!
P.P.S. If you want a post credits scene, you won't have to wait very long.  You get your slice of teaser early in the credits.

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