And just like that we are back to the superheroes. Did you miss them?
When “The Amazing Spider-Man” was first announced there were plenty of people scratching their heads. It seemed odd to revisit this story so soon on the heels of the Tobey Maguire led trilogy.
To those asking why, all I can say is Spider-Man is a complex tale, which delves into the dark and light places of humanity, there are many facets to explore…but, really!?!? It’s Spider-Man! Why not?
Marc Webb’s ”The Amazing Spider-Man” starts a littler earlier in Peter Parker’s life, giving us a glimpse of his parents. We meet young Peter on the night his parents mysteriously and abruptly leave him with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May (the idyllically cast Martin Sheen and Sally Field).
Fast-forward to high school and little Peter has become the freakishly smart, photo-snapping, not-quite cool kid we all know and love, wonderfully portrayed by Andrew Garfield. Although this time he’s crushing on Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) with Mary Jane Watson nowhere to be found.
[Sidebar: Some people are really upset about this lack of Mary Jane. I have only this to say: Gwen is a far superior character. No offense to Ms. Watson or Ms. Dunst, but Mary Jane really doesn't do anything. Gwen is a highly intelligent, highly active character with spunk...end of sidebar.]
When Peter finds some of his father’s old work in the basement he seeks out Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) for answers.
While wandering Dr. Connors’ lab, Peter (you guessed it) gets bitten by a radioactive spider, which is of course followed by a lot of freaking out, swinging, jumping, etc.
When his Uncle Ben is killed, something Peter blames himself for, Spider-Man is born. His new role as vigilante/revenge-driven teenager soon finds him at odds with Gwen’s father, Captain Stacy (Denis Leary), NYPD, and that’s before the Lizard attacks the city.
This Spider-Man is a rash being. He’s a teenager (Parker is still in high school) and it works. We see him make mistakes and learn from them, growing as a person and into the superhero we know he will become. There’s an angst to this story which was not quite present in the previous franchise. This isn’t quite a “Batman Begins” transformation, but this time around is much grittier. It doesn’t have that polished comic-book feel that the last incarnation emanated (and it worked).
I hate to make this all about comparing the two, but it’s almost impossible not to. Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is far more active than Tobey Maguire’s. This is most definitely because of Mr. Garfield’s gymnast background, a brilliant (some might say obvious) call when casting Spider-Man.
However, action scenes are only half the battle in any superhero film. What makes this movie is Mr. Garfield’s chemistry with everyone in this cast. It is phenomenal, it truly is. There’s the obvious of course, he and Ms. Stone work great together, but perhaps the most impressive relationship in this film is between him and Dr. Connors. Rhys Ifans is terrifying and heartbreaking as this kind doctor turned villain. Put him opposite Andrew Garfield, his mentee turned nemesis, and the two are inspiring.
Then of course there’s Peter and Aunt May, but with Sally Field in the role of mother-figure, how could that not work?
For those who don’t know, it has been announced that there will be two more films to follow this one, and if “The Amazing Spider-Man” is any indication (and it better be) I look forward to what follows.