Review: The Amazing Spider-Man
Ten years ago comic book movies were just starting to get started thanks to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man and Bryan Singer's X-Men. Since then X-Men has now five films, and Spider-Man has now been rebooted. While everyone involved with the original Spider-Man series had plans for a fourth and fifth film, it all fell apart rather quickly. They had John Malkovich attached to star as the villain known as the Vulture in the fourth film to which he moved on to Transformers 3 when it all fell apart. Even Anne Hathaway was attached to the fourth film as the character known as Felicia Hardy. Columbia Pictures wanted to pump out a new Spider-Man film regardless, and decided to reboot the series. At first that rubbed people the wrong way, even myself, but I am pleased to say that Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield did it right. Not only is The Amazing Spider-Man better than the original film, it is quite possibly the best Spider-Man film to date. That in itself is a tough act to pull considering how it features some similar story lines from the first Spider-Man film, but it separates itself thanks to the performance given by Andrew Garfield and the directing ability of Marc Webb.
The plot follows a few of the same points as the original Spider-Man film but differs in large part due to the inclusion of Peter's parents and the mystery that surrounds them. The film starts off with Peter as a boy playing a game with his parents but is surprised when he sees his father's office has been broken into. This scares the life out of both his parents and it forces their hand to ensure the safety of their son. They take him to Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field)'s house where he is to stay until they can settle everything. Of course, this doesn't end well. Fast forward years later, and Peter is in high school getting bullied by Flash Thompson (Chis Zylka) while he is also too shy to talk to the woman he pines for. It isn't until he he steps up to Flash that he really gets the attention of one Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Everything begins to change when he finds his father's old briefcase which has a classified file hidden inside of it. There, he also finds a picture of his father with one Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) who works at the Oscorp Building. Peter heads there to learn more about his father but his curiosity gets the best of him as he is bitten by a radioactive spider.
The second half of the movie is essentially the beginning of the hero, or better yet vigilante known as Spider-Man. For one the police want to bring him in before he causes any harm to himself or any innocent bystanders. While also Peter looks to help Dr. Connors create a formula that would help human life much easier. Of course the two geniuses get it to work eventually, but Dr. Connors hand is forced to eventually use the formula on himself when his big boss threatens him. This in fact starts the creation of the villain of the film known as the Lizard. As he transform into this giant lizard, his psyche becomes damaged as well and quickly descends into madness. So much so that he even develops a second personality that is much more sinister then the normal soft spoken Connors. His duality isn't shown too much as once he becomes the Lizard he becomes increasingly obsessed with gaining more power and going about his plan to share his gift. Ultimately this sets up the penultimate battle between the Spider and the Lizard.
The film benefited greatly under the direction of Marc Webb. In terms of films, he is very much still new to the art as this is only his second movie. However, it is very clear that he had a clear understanding of the character and how to present to an audience an engaging film. While it was a story focused on Peter finding out the truth about why his father left when he was a boy, it also dealt with plenty of other themes. For one, Webb stuck with the romantic theme as the scenes between Peter and Gwen Stacy managed to be both comical and romantic all at once. Webb has experience in that department thanks to his successful turn with 500 Days of Summer. All of which stayed true to the character of Peter very well. The film also dealt heavily with the theme of responsibility, similarly to the original film, but this time on a much bigger scale considering the stakes.
Andrew Garfield was terrific as Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He has stated on multiple occasions that throughout his life he has always been a huge fan of the character, and his knowledge of the character comes through in his performance. It is more than just his sarcastic banter or punkish attitude and more in his motions as Spider-Man. He actually manages to walk as if he is a Spider. It is weird to say, and i am sure it is weird to read that statement but his performance as the character is indeed a full fledged performance. Also, his on-screen (and off-screen) chemistry with his female co-star Emma Stone is palpable. Every scene between the two feels incredibly genuine and heartfelt. Stone is terrific in the role of the strong and confident Gwen Stacy. It is a pleasure to see the love interest in this film to be smart as well as she pieced things together. Add in the fact that Gwen and Peter's relationship was void of any drama for the most part, it kept the film from dragging for the most part. Rhys Ifans as the film's villain is a mixed bag however. He was fine as the smart doctor but the villain descended into madness to quickly while also never being truly believable as a villain. Throughout the film in fact I felt that the police force was the bigger issue standing in the way of our hero. Denis Leary was also terrific in the role of Captain Stacy. He had some terrific scenes between Garfield that really had helped advance the character of both Peter Parker and the Spider-Man. All in all, it was a terrific movie and I am rather surprised to be saying that. I'd give it a higher rating but at a few times throughout the film it dragged ever so slightly, but most origin films have that quality. Especially when you factor in we just saw one on the same character ten years ago.