By Tyrannotaur Comments
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
Now that I talked about The Avengers, let me talk about the reboot of the Spider-man series. I have to start by saying, that I am a huge Spider-man fan. Ever since I was a kid the character just spoke to me. I always related to Peter as the kid who was this nerd and the last person you'd expect to be given super powers, (at the time of his creation at least). To talk about a reboot you have to look at what was done before. Its sadly a part of the game as there is a reason series are rebooted, mostly its done for money (or in this films case to retain the license), but it can also be done to shed a better light on the character. This was done with Batman in the Nolan films, and I think that's the same kinda reboot we get here with Spider-man. Raimi's films were great, don't get me wrong, but they always had something about them I didn't particularly like. Raimi is best know for his work on the Evil Dead series of movies, which are mock horror films in alot of ways. I think that same sense of mockery slipped into the Spider-man films over time. Spidey has always been a funny character. It's actually a recognized trait of Spidey to openly mock the villains he is fighting. I feel the Raimi films started with this fun loving Spidey and then spiraled down to nearly mocking the character of Spider-man himself. I know Raimi is a fan of the old school Spider-man and villains like Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Vulture, Sandman, etc so when the demand came for a rather new character of Venom to be included along with other demands of the studio I'm guessing Raimi started to despise the project he was working on. I can't speak for the man himself, but it does show in the third film heavily. There's a scene where to impress MJ, Peter takes Gwen Stacy to the club MJ is working at and dances to try and win her over. Peter Parker, Spider-man: dancing in a jazz club. That sounds more like a joke than a plot point in a serious Spider-man movie. That’s just one of many problems with Spider-man 3. I'm guessing that after the failure of a third movie, Sony went back to the drawing board with Spider-man. When Marvel made a studio and started snatching up the rights to their properties, Sony decided they wanted to retain the rights and green lit a reboot of the franchise.
The Amazing Spider-man does alot of things right. It keeps Peter in High School, which for me was one of my favorite parts in the Spider-man mythos and why I enjoyed the original Ultimate Spider-man comic despite it being a Bendis work. The film also completely retells the origin which is a necessary evil in this films case. I agree with something G-man has said that as we continue to make more and more movies of popular heroes, we should stop telling the origin story and just do a recast like Bond does. In this film however it works nicely. They offer the same story you know, but with a nice twist to keep it fresh. Here we see a part of Peter's past not mentioned in the Raimi films, his parents. His father, for the most part, becomes an important character right from the get go. There becomes a very nice dynamic between Peter and his father and I really enjoyed seeing that. This also in-turn helps to shape Uncle Ben as the father that was there for him, which I think strengthens the relationship between them. Peter here is played by relative newcomer Andrew Garfield. I can see why Andrew was chosen for the role, He is Peter Parker. I did enjoy Tobey McGuire's Peter Parker, but he always felt a bit too wholesome for the role. As if they caught his role in Pleasentville and said "DO THAT! PLAY PETER LIKE THAT!” It’s as if Raimi didn't want to update the character at all and use the character from the 60s. It clearly did work for a time, but obviously failed once the third film hit. Garfield comes across with a much more updated version of Peter. The filmmakers strive to show us this by giving him a skateboard and showing a montage of him doing tricks with it and his spider-powers. Frankly I don't think this was all that needed, but if it helps to get teenagers to relate to him then go nuts. Garfield's Peter seems more like a kid from Queens, while Raimi's always felt more like some kid out of the 50's who was transported to 2002. Peter in the film is a loner, he is awkward, but also very smart and that makes him relatable. Overall I think Garfield was a great choice for this new age of Spidey films. He also does a great job as Spider-man himself. Joking at the expense of a car thief and other criminals, and even spitting out a joke or two when facing off against the Lizard. The rest of the cast was also chosen well. The casting of Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy is arguably one of the reason I was so interested in this film. Ever since I saw her in Superbad, I had a vested interest in her as a actress. she is one of the most talented and beautiful actresses out there and I always enjoy her work. As Gwen Stacey she does a great job of bringing in her trademark charm and sarcasm to the role of Peter's first love. I can say it now that her inevitable death scene in a future sequel is going to be as heart-wrenching as it was in the original comics as she leaves such a great impression on you. This is more than I can say for Kristin Dunst's Mary Jane in the original franchise. She came across as interesting in the first film but quickly lost her appeal in the second film. I can't even tell you what happened there. I can recall an interview with Kristin Dunst with some entertainment news program where she just showed disdain at doing constant sequels with the Spider-man films. Perhaps that started to come across on screen, or perhaps that interview just tainted my own perception of her. Whatever the reason, I feel that Ms. Stone is the better romantic interest. Whoever is cast to play Mary Jane needs to be able to top them both, big shoes (also hopefully if Black Cat is in a sequel, then there's some sexy shoes to fill....what?). The rest of the cast is just as well chosen as Peter and Gwen. Captain Stacy is played by Denis Leary, who's no stranger to playing law enforcement or father's. He does a wonderful job here as the Commissioner Gordon type. Sally Field plays Aunt May. Sally Field always reminded me of my mother, so casting her in a motherly role works well for me. I was pleased to see Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben. That role was practically made for him and he does not disappoint. Rhys Ifans, plays Curt Conners/ The Lizard, our villain of the film. I am honestly very pleased to see him in a film finally. He was teased for so long in the last trilogy. Conners is portrayed very well in this film. He is a man of desperation. He not only wants to be successful in his work but also grow his arm back. That coupled with being fired from Oscorp prompts him to test his life changing serum on himself and become the Lizard. I enjoyed seeing the Lizard start to take over Conner's mind at some points in the film, the inclusion of this sort of dual personality was a nice touch. The design of the Lizard is a cross between the actual character and Batman's Killer Croc. It was a bit odd at first when I got to see it at SDCC last year, but overtime it grew on me and it makes alot of sense. It sort of shows the more human side to this Lizard and man fusion.
The plot is overall well done. It follows the traditional Spider-man Origin story, but adds a bit more meat to it as there's the plot of Peter's father's work in there. I liked that while they don't have Peter try to earn money with his super powers through professional wrestling, they still hint at that part of his origins by having him crash through a ceiling and land in a wrestling ring, which in turns inspires his mask. Uncle Ben is still killed as result of Peter's failure to act. I did notice a real lack of the Spidey motto "With great power comes great responsibility", I guess it was drilled into the first series so much they didn't want to overdo it in this one. Peter gets his powers from a genetically altered spider, as always. The bite occurs in a truly creepy scene of hundreds of spiders crawling on him, which made my arachnophobia sister cower in her seat. One spider does bite him and the powers start from the next scene onwards while he is sleeping on a NY subway. As a person who lives in NY state and has been to the city many times, sleeping on the Subway is not the smartest thing to do. The plot eventually takes Peter to becoming the full Spider-man. The main motivation for this is seeking out his Uncle's killer. Unlike the original series he never does find his Uncle's killer. I found that honestly surprising, and I do hope they touch on that in future movies. The plot also forces Doc Conners to take his serum and become the Lizard in an act of desperation for his job. Norman Osborn is mentioned quite often and is referred to as being deathly ill. This will obviously be built on more in the next film. With all the talk of cross-species genetics it makes me wonder if they will go the traditional route of "goblin serum" for Osborn to make him the crazy Goblin who flies on a glider and throws bombs, or if they will lean towards the more hulked out Goblin from the Ultimate Comics, which sort of resembles the Lizard from the film. Hopefully its the former. The Lizard is done very well and I am glad to see him as the villain for this film. What I did find odd is they never touched on Billy or Martha Conners. Apparently there was a scene with them, but it was cut which is a shame as I always felt that Conners' family is what humanized him and made his transformation into the Lizard a curse for him. Overall the plot is sound and makes for a great Spidey film.
I loved the moments when we get to see Spidey in motion. It truly is more representative of how Spidey should move as opposed to how he moved in the previous trilogy. The fight scenes between Spidey and the Lizard were great. Also this film has the best Stan Lee Cameo ever. I also enjoyed the romance scenes between Peter and Gwen. They are very reminiscent of director Marc Webb's previous film 500 Days of Summer, which I also enjoyed. This film marks a great fresh start for the Spider-man films. I can't wait to see what they do in the sequel. Speaking of, at the mid-point of the credits we see a final scene of Conners in jail being confronted by a Man in the Shadows. At first, like most, I believed this to be Osborn. But now that I got the chance to see the film again I am thinking it is Electro, which would be wonderful. This film series has plenty of potential, and is off to a great start.
Up Next- The Dark Knight Rises