Friday, July 13, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

I can’t deny I liked Tobey Maguire as Spiderman.  I enjoyed the previous three films, especially the first two.  Much like the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman pictures, you mustn’t spend much time comparing The Amazing Spider-Man with the previously released efforts with other actors and directors.  This film stands just fine on its own merits.

Still, it is inevitable not to make some comparisons, especially when it comes to the lead characters.  Maguire was nerdier than Andrew Garfield and really wore his angst on his sleeve.  Maguire was the right choice at the time of the first film ten years ago.  Andrew Garfield is a better hero for these times.  He has the hair and the look.  He oozes sensitivity and intellect.  I enjoyed Maguire a decade ago but Garfield is a modern upgrade and is immensely likable and easily gains our sympathy. 

Marc Webb put his own spin on the spidey story, mainly by switching our hero’s love interest from Mary Jane to Gwen Stacy.  While I had no issues with Kirsten Dunst, Emma Stone is a much better fit with lead Garfield.  Stone is comfortable and accessible as an actress and infuses a joy in her work.  She loves what she does and it shows.  Stone and Garfield displayed little chemistry early on but it improved as the movie progressed.  At the end, you wanted them together. 

As for the story itself, little new ground was broken.  As with some other Spiderman villains, there is a degree of sympathy for the motives of the villain.  Dr. Conner’s’ behavior derives from a desire to do good and then of course, things goes horribly awry.  The film’s villainous Lizard wasn’t the best CGI effort ever put on the big screen and some of the special effects were a little rough.  The action scenes, though few, were well choreographed.  This movie is actually more character driven than action driven but there is plenty of both aspects for everyone.  In this version, we catch more glimpses of Peter Parker’s family situation and history than other in previous installments and it gives Garfield a little more material to flesh out.  We still have some shadowy questions left unanswered about Parker’s father and the mentioned but unseen (in this movie) founder of OsCorp, Norman Osborn.

Hollywood veterans Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary, and Rhys Ifans add valuable talent to the cast.  As expected, these four excelled in their support roles and only added positives to the film. 

And of course, there is a nice set up for another movie.  I don’t have a problem with that.  Summer blockbusters are part of our culture and superhero films are a major ingredient in our movie going experience.  These movies are fun and entertaining and should be savored as such.  The violence is not violent and only but the youngest of children can go see this film.  There are a couple of deaths scenes that could cause trauma for more sensitive children and it may be to slow and intellectual for younger, squirmy kids.  Otherwise, The Amazing Spider-Man is a fun theater experience for the whole family.

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