This morning I sacrificed sleep in order to be one of the first to see The Amazing Spider-Man. As I wrote in my previous post, I had a lot of really high expectations for this film. Not only were they met, but they were exceeded substantially.
Let me precede this with a message for the skeptics: in order to really enjoy this film, you have to completely erase the previous trilogy from your memory. This film is not a sequel, or a prequel or some exact copy adaptation of those films. It is its own interpretation of the comic book series, and should be treated as such.
One of the biggest complaints behind this film is the fact that the final film of the first trilogy was released too recently (in 2007), which means there was only a five year gap between the films However, people seem to overlook the fact that Batman was completely rebooted with Batman Begins in 2005 only eight years after the utter catastrophe, Batman & Robin.
The Amazing Spider-Man follows suit with many other super hero films of the past decade, in that it is an origin story. Not only does it show how Spider-Man came to be, but it elaborates on the reasons he became a hero and the story behind his parents’ disappearance. This inevitably led to a much darker film because, as we all know, the lives of super heroes are often hard lives to live. Not just because they come home bruised and beaten every night, but because they are always putting their lives on the line for millions of people who can’t help themselves. It takes a really messed up (albeit, also selfless) person to take on that kind of responsibility with no tangible reward for their efforts.
Despite the darker themes, The Amazing Spider-Man manages to maintain that youthfulness and light heartedness that is synonymous with the character. Peter is even cuter, funnier, and smarter in this series (Oh, you didn’t hear? Sony is already dreaming up a sequel!) and the storyline gave viewers a chance to fall in love with the character and understand him better than the past series allowed.
In my opinion, Sam Raimi’s trilogy rushed over the way that Peter became a hero and dove right into his conflict with Norman Osborn (a.k.a. the Green Goblin). In Marc Webb’s reboot, Peter is faced with tackling a not-so different villain, Dr. Curt Connors, who’s ill deeds were mostly driven by his desire to be “normal” rather than out of a desire for power or wanting to do harm to others. Admittedly, those weren’t Norman Osborn’s original intentions, but there was certainly a part of him that felt this way.
Unsurprising to me, the effects and CGI in this film were just as fantastic as I had hoped they would be. I saw the film in IMAX 3D, however, I’m sure it would be equally enjoyable in regular ol’ 2D. Except for the first person shots where Spidey was swinging around NYC, those were probably way more awesome in 3D!
On another less substantial note (or equally as substantial, depending on how you look at it), I am in love with the score and soundtrack of this film. Not only did the music fit seamlessly into the action of the film, but the lyrical songs picked were flawless. Granted, I might be a bit biased because both Big Brat by Phantom Planet and ‘Til Kingdom Come by Coldplay are at the top of my all time favorite songs list.
Another aspect of the film I found much more enjoyable was Peter’s love interest, Gwen Stacy. Honestly, I was never really a fan of Mary Jane Watson. she was so much dumber than Peter and did more to cause him problems than be at all helpful. However, Gwen challenges him intellectually and is (in some cases) smarter than he is. After finding out who Peter was, she not only wanted to help, but without that help, Peter would not have been able to stop Dr. Connors. Mary Jane’s only real talent was being able to get kidnapped easily and used as a bargaining chip. I realize that the timeline isn’t exactly right for her character (she doesn’t show up until Peter attends college) but her personality is a much better match for Peter’s, in my opinion.
Finally, but most importantly, there is the characterization of Peter Parker. Andrew Garfield is a phenomenal actor, that I’ve never doubted, however I was a bit hesitant at first when I heard he had been cast as Spider-Man last summer. However, he managed to bring the character to life in a whole new way that Tobey Maguire never did. He made the character lovable and relatable and quirky and smart and most importantly, passionate. Did I mention that he did most of his own stunts as well?
Despite my bias because of my love for Andrew Garfield, I honestly believe this film was the strongest Spiderman movie. Obviously many people will disagree for any number of reasons and the filmmakers will probably never be able to make everyone happy, however, The Amazing Spider-Man contained enough of the right ingredients to make a fantastic Spider-Man film.