The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) – Well, it was fifty years ago that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko brought Spider-Man into the world. It was ten years ago that Sam Raimi brought the character to the big screen. It’s only been five years since Spider-Man 3 stank up cinemas and some say that’s far too soon for a continuity reboot. After all the Batman series waited the better part of a decade before they rebooted the series. Quite frankly studio interference drove the Raimi series off the rails and from the sound of things, the proposed Spider-Man 4 was headed in the same direction so I’m happy they decided to start over and take Spider-Man back to his roots. Tobey Maguire was good enough as Spider-Man, but I always felt they could do better. I’ll say, being primarily a fan of the Ultimate Spider-Man comics (pre-Ultimatum… fuck you, Jeph Loeb [though I still love you for The Long Halloween]), I do feel that Andrew Garfield is a better choice. Still some of the trailers seem to imply a pretty dark and heavy tone for the movie. While every superhero has some angst, Spider-Man is not a series that should be too dark. If there’s one thing Raimi’s films nailed, it’s the tone. The director of (500) Days of Summer was brought in to helm this one… probably mostly because his name is Mark Webb. WEBB. Really. Does his flick strike the right tone?

Richard Parker (Campbell Scott) is a scientist working on something top secret, but someone doesn’t want it to stay secret and they break into his house. He and his wife Mary (Embeth Davidtz) leave their young son Peter with Richard’s brother Ben (Martin Sheen) and his wife May (Sally Field) and leave. Many years later, Peter (Andrew Garfield) is a teenager and his parents died years before in a plane crash. He’s an outcast at school, picked on by jock bully Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) and pining after pretty popular girl Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). He finds out about an old colleague of his father’s name Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). He tracks him down and shares his father’s work with the man. While at the lab Peter is bitten by a genetically modified spider. Guess what happens. I’ll give you a hint: what’s the title of the damn movie? Meanwhile Dr. Connors, an amputee, experiments on himself using reptile DNA to regrow his lost arm. The effects are someone different than he intended. As Peter becomes the masked vigilante known as Spider-Man after a personal tragedy, he has to deal with being hunted by Gwen’s police captain father George Stacy (Dennis Leary).

So since it has to retell the origin story, some of the material covered by the movie may be a bit redundant to some. I think the movie dresses it up differently enough to make it entertaining. If people didn’t want to see the same stories told in new and interesting ways, then every damn new movie wouldn’t be a sequel or a remake. I really do like Garfield in the title role. Also, just try not to fall in love with Emma Stone in this movie with her smile… and her thighs-baring outfits… and just general adorableness. The weak link might be Ifans. Spider-Man 2 and 3 took villains that are irredeemable bastards in the comics (Dr. Octopus and Sandman) and made them somewhat sympathetic. This movie does the opposite. The Lizard in the comics is an unwilling Jekyll/Hyde villain. He’s a good guy who turns into a monster, werewolf-style. Connors in the movie seems to have a more sinister edge. I do feel a bit sorry for Dylan Baker, who player Connors in Spider-Man 2 & 3, probably in the hopes of getting to carry a movie as the main villain one day, only to be recast in this film. Oh well. Hope he got one of those Billy Dee Williams Batman contracts where he gets paid anyway. The movie isn’t perfect. “With great power comes great responsibility” is awkwardly paraphrased for whatever weird reason and there is a section where Spider-Man is motivated by vengeance which seems out of character. The Amazing Spider-Man does lean on the dark tone a little heavily at times, but I don’t think it overdoes it too much. Garfield gets across the fun smartass side of Spidey in way that Maguire never really did. The film seems to be building towards a better sequel. Spider-Man 2 was significantly better than Spider-Man, which was already pretty fun to start with, so a sequel to this film (The Spectacular Spider-Man, maybe?) could be phenomenal. I do feel like some people will take issues with this movie (and in fact I know some people have). Connors works for Oscorp and Norman Osborn is mentioned by name so I feel like the Green Goblin will be coming up in future installments. I do wish they’d focus on Spidey’s many nemeses who have not yet appeared on film like Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio*, the Vulture, Electro, Scorpion, or even Rhino or the Shocker. I think it has some definite room for improvement, but I like the direction this series is heading in. I’m on board for Spidey’s wild ride. Excelsior!

*SPOILER-y Theory/Question in Inviso-text, highlight to read (His ability to disappear makes me wonder if Mysterio was the man in the cell at the end. Not saying for sure he was, but I wonder.)

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