Release Date: July 3, 2012
Genre(s): Action, Superhero, Drama
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen
Director: Marc Webb
Writer(s): James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves
Running Time: 136 minutes
Adaptation of: The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko (Comic)
Synopsis: When his parents mysteriously leave, awkward high school geek Peter Parker grows up being raised by his aunt and uncle. While investigating his parents sudden disappearance, Peter is bitten by a genetically-engineered spider that imbues him with extraordinary powers. With his new found powers, Peter becomes the masked vigilante known as Spider-Man, which eventually leads to run-ins with a reptilian monster known as the Lizard, and even the police captain who happens to be the father of his long-time crush.
So here we go—a new Spider-Man film franchise. Sam Raimi and his crew shit the bed pretty bad during the last trilogy, especially with Spider-Man 3. Now we’re getting a fresh take that promises to be more faithful to the character and give us his “untold story”, directed by Marc Webb, the guy who blessed us with 500 Days of Summer. I’ve been cautiously optimistic, because c’mon—it has to be better than watching Tobey Maguire mope around, dance ridiculously, or stalk Mary Jane, right? Many people have voiced their displeasure at the idea of this reboot(without fucking giving it a chance I might add—the pinnacle of ignorance) and even a wildly popular and “trusted” media website(which shall remain nameless, but rhymes with the phrase “my BM”) blasted the film in an early review—with the reviewer getting all the details wrong; it’s clear he didn’t pay attention to the film. But, I’m here to make all your concerns take a fucking dirt nap; this is by far the best adaptation of the Spider-Man mythos.
The Amazing Spider-Man opens with a young Peter Parker being put in the custody of his aunt and uncle because his parents are in danger and must go into hiding. All we’re told is that his father works for Oscorp and he has something to with cross-species genetics research. Peter eventually learns that his father worked with the one-armed Oscorp scientist, Dr. Curtis Connors, so he infiltrates the company headquarters with the help of his high school crush, Gwen Stacy. His meddling causes him to get bitten by a genetically-altered spider and soon after he awakens on the subway with extraordinary powers(a hilarious scene). After his Uncle Ben is killed by a thief, Peter takes it upon himself to find his uncle’s murderer and becomes the vigilante Spider-Man. Meanwhile, Dr. Connors tests a formula—that Peter helped him perfect—and his lost arm miraculously regenerates, but he is soon turned into something more monstrous. The story is very faithful to the comics in which is based on. In fact, the only real difference in Parker’s origin is that the entire wrestling plot is completely forgone(although there’s still a slight nod to it) to instead build on the relationship between Parker and Connors, which I feel is more important. Honestly the whole wrestling thing, while classic, is a bit outdated anyway. This film does present a story that is as close as we’re going to get to an accurate Spidey film—and it’s damn near perfect.
While the story is great in The Amazing Spider-Man, it’s the cast that really shines. Andrew Garfield is the perfect Peter Parker, embodying all the aspects of Peter’s persona: scientific genius, witty smartass, awkward ladies’ man, and the burdened hero. For the first time ever, I actually believed I was really watching Spider-Man in action. And as Spidey he does some of the coolest, most ingenious things with webbing, including making a series of webs to track vibrations in the sewers and a bandage to cover one of his wounds. Emma Stone really brought her A-game to the table as the adorable and admirable Gwen Stacy; gone are the days of the unlikeable shark-toothed bitch, Kirsten Dunst. Stone’s Gwen isn’t your average “damsel in distress”—her intellect rivals Peter’s and she’s able to defend herself. Her and Garfield’s chemistry in the film is incredible, so it’s easy to see how they became a real-life off-screen couple. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curtis Connors, Denis Leary as Captain Stacy, Gwen’s policeman father, Martin Sheen as a perfect Uncle Ben, Sally Field as an equally great Aunt May, Campbell Scott as Richard Parker, Peter’s lost father, Bollywood superstar Irrfan Khan as Dr. Rajit Ratha, Conners’ Oscorp superior, and Chris Zylka as Flash Thompson, Peter’s high school bully nemesis. The entire ensemble really sell the heart and soul of the story and all give excellent performances. It was kind of strange to see Denis Leary—who normally plays characters who are very anti-establishment—as a cop, but he owned the role. Also Stan Lee’s cameo is hilarious, and is probably my favorite of all the ones he has done. And if you’re wondering where Harry Osborn is, I assume he’s in a private school and will meet Peter in college in the next film. Makes sense.
Marc Webb really impressed me with how well he handled the action in the film. I knew the comedy and drama wouldn’t be an issue for him, but action scenes are complicated to film. This being only his second feature film, Webb has plenty of music videos under his belt, including the fantastic high school dramedy faux trailer he did for a My Chemical Romance video(yeah yeah, I know—you hate them; good for you). Plus his last name is fucking “Webb”, so I guess he had plenty of qualifications. The writing team did a pretty damn spectacular job adapting the story into a more modern, slightly more realistic(such is the way with comic book movies these days) version. The way Peter is written and how Garfield portrays him is just fantastic, which is something I felt Tobey Maguire never really accomplished in Raimi’s trilogy. The plot is great and very busy, but not to the point where it’s a jumbled mess—a lot just happens to be going on. There were a couple plot holes(what the hell happened to Dr. Ratha?) but otherwise it was really well-written and entertaining. Just don’t expect Pete’s origin to be wrapped up in this film—it’s already been confirmed that the origin story will continue throughout a trilogy. James Horner’s score is a particular highlight as well, perfectly matching the scenes and even adding a few musical sound effects.
The Amazing Spider-Man is simply the best Spider-Man film in existence, currently—it’s not perfect, but it comes damn close. It does justice to all the characters and Peter’s troubled beginnings. I’d go as far to say that this is the best superhero origin film I’ve seen, even over my previous favorite, Batman Begins, and the popular vote, Iron Man. It’s smart, funny, exciting, and full of heart—just wait until the bridge scene, you’ll love Garfield’s Peter Parker. As a huge Spidey fan, I’m stoked that they finally got the character and his story right. I hate to draw a line in the sand, but if you’re ignorant enough to skip this because of your blind loyalty for Raimi’s trilogy, then you simply are not a Spider-Man fan and you’re doing yourself a great disservice. I recommend seeing it in IMAX 3-D as I did; the 3-D is done pretty well—as it was shot in 3-D—and some of the pop-out effects are pretty incredible. If 3-D isn’t your thing, that’s fine, it’s still an excellent film. Now go out and support it so we can eventually see the most pivotal point in Spidey’s life—the night Gwen Stacy died!