Updated: Tuesday, 03 Jul 2012, 11:14 AM CDT
Published : Tuesday, 03 Jul 2012, 11:03 AM CDT
First things first; I love Spider-Man. I’ve watched all of the TV shows (even the one in Japanese), read as many of the comics as I could (including Spider-Pig featuring Peter Porker), and of course, I watched the first two installments of the Sam Raimi trilogy enough to know them scene-for-scene. You’ll notice I said first two, because I was one of the many fans disappointed by Spider-Man 3. But today, fellow Spider fans, is a day to rejoice, because the Amazing Spider-Man delivers.
The Amazing Spider-Man is the name of the longest running Spider-Man comic series, which means the film already had high expectations. Also, the Raimi films are three of the top 25 highest grossing films in US history. This rebooted Spider-Man franchise needed to distinguish itself right from the start if it were going to stand on its own merits. The Amazing Spider-Man accomplishes this by showing us something we haven’t seen on film before – a young Peter Parker and his parents.
This instantly gives the series an element that has not previously been explored. We learn that Peter’s father was involved in secret science experiments. This revelation puts Spider-Man in a new light, showing him as jaded hero more in line with Batman. You realize that Peter Parker’s jokes aren’t just him being a jerk, it’s how he copes with the traumatic loss of his parents.
However, this is still an origin story that we have all seen before. Even though the most casual of fan knows what to expect, the film allows events to unfold organically, making things feel fresh. Also, the film sets itself apart by being grounded in a modern, realistic world. Peter Parker Googles his father, deals with bullying at school, and speaks on a smart phone. Its minor touches like these that make this a Spider-Man for the current generation.
By sticking to its comic roots, the film is able to please long time fans and further distance itself from the Tobey Maguire days. Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man has to use web shooters and is interested in Gwen Stacy, not Mary Jane. What made Maguire’s Parker so likable was his nerdy charm and low self-esteem that grew with his new powers. Garfield’s Parker is more of an awkward outcast that seems to be indifferent towards most others.
The Amazing Spider-Man places an emphasis on relationships and how they shape Peter’s personality. We share in his pain at the loss of his parents, the young love he has with Gwen, and his sense of family with Aunt May and Uncle Ben.
There are also many awkward moments throughout the film as the still teenaged Peter begins to hone his skills. Rather than the fully grown and polished hero we are used to seeing, here we are shown one that seems to be figuring things out along the way.
The relationships and growing pains combine to make a hero that you can’t help but root for. Seeing Peter work so hard to overcome his troubles as he tries to right his own mistakes leads to an emotional climax in the film. We often go into superhero movies assuming the good guy will win, but in the Amazing Spider-Man we want to see him win. We want to have that moment where we see our hero triumph over the villain.
Speaking of the villain, Rhys Ifans plays the role perfectly. His interpretation of Dr. Curt Connors is less mad scientist and more misguided man who becomes obsessed with his own goals. He’s not so much a bad guy as a good guy who makes a bad decision.
Even with all these great qualities, no superhero film is complete without amazing action scenes. Spider-Man shines in this area, with fast paced battles that move all over the place. The CG effects are well used and never look too hokey or over the top. Watching an inexperienced Spider-Man fighting a Lizard who is twice his size is just as cool and exciting as you'd expect.
All in all, the Amazing Spider-Man lives up to its title. We see the growth of Peter Parker not only as a masked crime-fighter, but as a young man struggling with a difficult past. The Amazing Spider-Man is a great film. I give this movie 4 ½ CW Austin Stars out of 5.
*Aside from a few, very brief moments, the 3D in this film was mostly used for a depth-of-field effect.