The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Starring – Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Irrfan Khan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Chris Zylka with Sally Field and Martin Sheen
Written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves based on the comic by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee
Directed by Marc Webb
The Amazing Spider-Man, the newest release from Sony Pictures, is a film born of Hollywood legalities. When Spider-Man 4, with Director Sam Raimi and original stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, was shut down due to the studio and Raimi not agreeing on the direction of the script and Maguire’s refusal to participate without Raimi, Sony decided to reboot the series as opposed to recasting a sequel with a new Peter Parker. If Sony had opted not to reboot the series then, as part of their original deal with Marvel studios, the film rights for Spider-man would have reverted back to Marvel and Sony would lose the character to Disney, the studio that owns Marvel. Complicated I know, but is the final product worth all this effort?
The Amazing Spider-Man starts off by retelling the origins of Peter Parker’s emergence as Spider-Man, though with a few twists from the first time around. We begin with a young Peter as he discovers his father’s home office has been broken into and ransacked. Richard and Mary Parker (Scott and Davidtz) rush Peter over to his Uncle Ben and Aunt May’s (Sheen and Field) where they leave him for safekeeping as they flee for their safety. Many years later we catch up with the now teenaged Peter (Garfield) who still lives with his Aunt and Uncle after his parents have perished in a plane accident. Peter is an awkward teenager who does not fit in and is a regular target of class bully Flash (Zylka), which causes him to retreat behind the lens of his camera. The object of his affection this time around is the brilliant and stunningly beautiful Gwen Stacy (Stone), who besides being a fellow student, also works as an intern at Ozcorp for Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans). Connors as it turns out is Richard Parker’s former lab partner and helped work on the same research that caused the break-in at the Parker’s years before. Upon visiting Ozcorp to meet Connors we get the spider bite sequence that transforms Peter into Spider-man and a relatively funny subway sequence because of it. Peter starts his life as crime fighter and draws the ire of the Chief of Police (Leary) who is coincidentally Gwen’s father. Meanwhile Peter’s Uncle Ben dies because of a robbery gone wrong and Dr. Connors transforms into the Lizard because of the research which forces Spider-Man into action.
The Amazing Spider-Man starts off in familiar territory, very familiar actually, retelling the same origin story that was told just a decade ago in the original Spider-Man. Perhaps this is why the first hour of the story drags a bit. The story really picks up and gains a life of its own once the transformation occurs and we see Spider-Man in his full crime fighting glory. Garfield is a good fit for Parker as Director Webb has clearly been influenced by the Ultimate Spider-Man line of comics where Parker is still a struggling high school student and has no connection to the Daily Bugle or its cantankerous editor J. Jonah Jameson as of yet. Emma Stone is a standout as Gwen Stacy, by far the best female love interest in any Spider-Man film, as she practically glows on screen and you are immediately smitten. The rest of the cast does well in turn, Leary as Captain Stacy and Sheen as Uncle Ben standout in particular. The special effects and stunt work are the real winning combination here as Spider-Man has never looked more convincing on screen. Using a combination of acrobatics and free-running techniques as well as CGI, this Spider-Man feels more grounded in reality, which makes sense as Batman Begins was another influence on Director Webb’s decision making. Speaking of Webb, he manages to put to rest all doubts that he can direct action sequences as those set pieces are some of the highlights of the film.
Overall a Spider-Man film that may have surpassed its predecessors, The Amazing Spider-Man is better than its auspicious beginnings gave it any right to be, but when you hire talented people it usually pays off. The Amazing Spider-Man is a fun time and a solid recommend.
Till Next Time,
Movie Junkie TO
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