The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 6:46 AM | Posted in

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 7.4/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 8/10


First, in 2002, came Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, then came two sequels, Spider-Man 2 and 3. It has been five years since we saw another film that features the web-slinger. Finally a new film has been announced, called…… The Amazing Spider-Man. At first, I asked myself: "Why not just call it Spider-Man 4?" But that was before I realized that this film does not involve Sam Raimi as well as Tobey Maguire. That was also before I realized that The Amazing Spider-Man was a reboot of the franchise and not a sequel.

In my lengthy review of the Raimi trilogy, I have expressed how all three films met financial and critical success. Is there any reason why we would want to hear the same story again? That was my burning question ever since its announcement.

Similar yet original still, The Amazing Spider-Man tells the story of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May (Martin Sheen and Sally Field, respectively). As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents' disappearance — leading him to Oscorp and the lab of the one-armed Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's former partner. At the lab, he gets bitten by a radioactive spider, granting him spider-like abilities and transforming him into the vigilante known as Spider-Man. With a goal to devise a cure for the dying as well as his missing arm, Dr. Connors develops cross-species genetics with lizard DNA to regenerate limbs. Pressured to test human subjects, Connors uses the serum on himself, transforming him into the ferocious Lizard. As its narrative progresses, the film revolves around Peter and his new relationship with his fellow classmate Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

Clearly different from the original trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man introduces the new plotline about Peter's parents. This efficiently becomes a plot device that invites the audience to follow Andrew Garfield as he slowly becomes the beloved superhero. With more humanity to his character than heroics, this new Peter Parker has much more reason to become a hero, compared to Tobey Maguire in the first film.

Andrew Garfield plays a completely brand new Peter Parker, with a personality radically different from Maguire's approach. According to the original comic book fans, this new Parker is much more accurate. Now he is sarcastic and has his own "wicked" sense of humor. Unlike Maguire, Garfield bears a sense of innocence to his appearance, with nervous stuttering when he encounters Gwen and naturalism in his performance, whether he is being funny, angry, or downcast. Do not get me wrong - Tobey Maguire was a great Peter Parker nonetheless. However, if one asks me to compare Maguire to Garfield, I would say Garfield is much more appealing. Then again, saying Garfield is superior to Maguire is like saying Heath Ledger is superior to Jack Nicholson as the Joker in the Batman movies. It is extremely difficult to compare, as they approached their characters in different ways. In this critic's opinion, it is much easier to say that both actors portrayed Peter Parker very well and the fans of the original movies will not be disappointed by the new lead actor here.

Now that I got the burning question as to which lead actor is better out of the way, on to the next burning question: Who is the better love interest? In other words, is Kirsten Dunst of the original trilogy better or is she moving aside for Emma Stone to take the chair? Without even hesitating, Emma Stone takes it. Although Dunst is extremely well-casted for her appearance fitting the character of Mary Jane Watson, her acting has always felt contrived and wheezy in some times. This makes her words, actions, and facial expressions hard to convince, not natural in her act. Emma Stone is a talented actress, one of my favorites in Young Hollywood. Different from Mary Jane, Gwen Stacy is a smart and well-educated girl, daughter of the police captain George Stacy (Denis Leary). Just like Dunst, Stone's appearance almost automatically fits the description of "smart girl." But instead, Stone goes the extra mile. With a brilliantly written screenplay, Stone is able to take her Easy A ego out for all the high school dialogue as well as interactions with Garfield. Although several critics call the relationship elements "cheesy, sappy, and awkward," that is the reality of high school relationships. Director of 500 Days of Summer, Marc Webb captures the chemistry between the common high school male and the common high school female with skilled dialogue, expressing the "awkward moment" phrase that everyone today use.

Rhys Ifans portrays a great villain. Despite the Lizard having "a comparable quality to Godzilla," his humanity and personality is what drives his actions. The Lizard is no Green Goblin nor Sandman, where we barely understand what their motives are and how they closely become villainous, away from their original human forms. As a Spider-Man movie villain comparison, Dr. Connors comes in at second place, behind Alfred Molina portraying Doctor Octopus. The Amazing Spider-Man here did something which was the very thing that made Spider-Man 2 a great movie, create a parallel narrative between Parker and the villain. The film is not about the superhero fighting the supervillain. Not just that. It is about characters developing self-identity and self-confirmation of who they are and what they do. Spider-Man 2 accomplished this greatly, bonding Parker with Doc Ock closer than ever. Here in The Amazing Spider-Man, it accomplished the same thing. The visual effects and fighting sequences are simply, mentioned before in other films, "fancy decorations on the already delicious cake."

What Marc Webb does differently here with The Amazing Spider-Man that Sam Raimi never quite fulfilled before is capturing the raw emotion of the story. Here, I want to find out the truth alongside Peter Parker, and I honestly felt gloomy when he lost his uncle. In the original Spider-Man, the death of Uncle Ben came and went. Although it was a pivotal moment in the film, it was never emotionally pivotal for us, the audience. Story-wise, The Amazing Spider-Man may not feel new to the audience, but the tone, atmosphere, and acting all pave way to make the movie feel new and organic.

Finally, now for the question we have all been waiting for: Out of all the Spider-Man films, where does The Amazing Spider-Man rank at? Although it is unquestionable that a reboot is completely unnecessary right now, The Amazing Spider-Man amazingly ranks second in place, behind the still superior Spider-Man 2. In spite of the fact that The Amazing Spider-Man explores the same plot points of the original, it packs a far more emotional punch that touches the heart, a part of the story scope that the original never shown. It may not have the Osborns (Harry and Norman), but this new villain of Dr. Connors fits this newly "untold" story quite perfectly. As for Spider-Man 3, we do not even need to compare.

In conclusion, The Amazing Spider-Man is quite amazing. It exhibits a new side of Parker's story, enough for us to find ourselves intrigued once again. It may sit as an old-fashioned superhero movie, but the film manages to spin its own unique web with impressive visuals, skillful directing, and amazing performances from an equivalently amazing cast. As stated before, there really is no reason why we need a Spider-Man reboot, but if you suit up, get your spider senses going, and watch this movie on its own, The Amazing Spider-Man might just have you swinging with joy.

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