Posted on July 4, 2012 AT 07:39pm
The long awaited reboot of the Spider-Man film franchise has arrived with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man, and with it comes a plethora of new (to the film franchise, at very least) ways to view everyone’s favorite wall-crawler. After the decline of the original trilogy, the people in charge of the franchise decided to go in a new direction, rebooting the films completely with (irony alert) director Mark Webb at the helm, and with Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) taking on the role of Peter Parker.
Thankfully for comic book fans, this was a good move, as the origin of Spider-Man is much more accurate (as much as a comic book movie can be). Gone is the natural webbing of the original trilogy, replaced with the web shooters that Parker was originally given. Also gone is Mary Jane Watson, the well-known love interest of Spider-Man. She isn’t even in the film, with Emma Stone (Easy A, Adventureland) playing Gwen Stacy, the woman Parker originally fell in love with. This continuity (while flawed in other plot-driven points of the film) is much better than the original films, and one of the most accurate portrayals of an origin story in recent memory.
The story focuses on Parker as he learns and develops his abilities, all while trying to save the city of Manhattan from Doctor Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who, after some scientific stuff, becomes the incredibly dangerous Lizard. This is a fairly good plot, and The Lizard is one of the earliest Spider-Man villains, so focusing on him instead of going all out with Goblin, Venom or Carnage from the beginning was a good move. It plays well and fits into the origins of Parker, his relationship with Gwen Stacy, and how he came to live with his Aunt May (Sally Fields) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) to begin with. Parts of the plot divert from continuity, but that has become the norm in a comic book film, so it’s (sadly) forgivable.
Visually, it was beautiful, with vast views of Manhattan, lots of action and destruction, and a high amount of web-swinging. While all the high-flying acrobatics were obviously special effects (to the point where it almost looked more similar to a video game to a movie in small portions), they were pulled off pretty well. The update to the suit design was also well done, making Parker look far more sleek and cool in the suit than the original (though, the web gliders underneath his arms from the original comics were missed, a little).
The only real drawback to the film was the acting. In particular, the dialogue. While no actor played their roles poorly (even Denis Leary, who played Gwen’s father, did a good job), some of the dialogue fell short, especially given Spider-Man’s reputation as being clever and witty during combat. Andrew Garfield played the role well, but the lack of one-liners made it tough to picture Garfield as the perfect fit. His attitude as a character was much better than in prior films, however, mixing the smart and clever with the awkward and shy in just the right doses. Something felt slightly off about his portrayal as Peter Parker, but it’s still the best to date. Emma Stone, however, wasn’t afforded much of a chance. She’s prominent in the story, but wasn’t given as much screen time as expected, which made her less of a factor in the film. Their romantic relationship also felt a bit rushed, with her attention towards Peter coming almost out of nowhere. She did a fine job, but her character just wasn’t shown enough to make an impact. Ifans, however, was a great Curt Connors, and despite splitting the role between himself and a computer-generated monster, made of the most of it. Stan Lee’s token cameo in the Marvel films proves to be his best to date, as well, despite the fact that he’s silent throughout.
SUMMARY: The reboot of this franchise was given a great deal of skepticism when it was first announced, and thankfully, it rebounded as gracefully as Spider-Man swinging through Manhattan. While having minor flaws, this film was far batter than expectations, and has shown that not all reboots are a bad thing, and that comic book movies can be good (though they usually aren’t). The recent trend of good Marvel films continues, much to the joy of fans everywhere.
- THE GOOD: Mostly accurate origin story, visually stunning
- THE BAD: Needs more one-liners
- THE UGLY: N/A
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