REVIEW: 'The Amazing Spider-Man'
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
Spider-Man is America's hero. He's the guy who gets the crap kicked out of him but keeps on fighting. He keeps on fighting because he knows it's his responsibility. Because he knows that if he doesn't fight, no one else will. There is no other hero who represents the heart and spirit of America like Spider-Man.
When Sony announced that it was rebooting the Spider-Man franchise, a lot of people said it was too early, it was a money grab or it was just a dumb decision. We need Spider-Man though, and Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man understands that like few other superhero movies ever know. The Amazing Spider-Man is a triumphant rebirth of one of our greatest franchises.
If you're not planning on seeing The Amazing Spider-Man, or if you're even rooting against it because it's too soon for a reboot, you're missing out. As much as I loved Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies, with 2002's Spider-Man rallying America after Sept. 11, 2001, and with 2004's Spider-Man 2 being one of the greatest superhero movies, I don't think I could love The Amazing Spider-Man any more than I do. So many facets of the film are perfect.
Forget Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker (especially his Spider-Man 3 turn). Andrew Garfield was born to be Peter Parker. The Amazing Spider-Man gets Parker in a way that Raimi and Maguire never did. Yeah, he's an outcast, but he's sarcastic and witty, not emo and mopey. Garfield completely embodies Parker, tossing out one-liners as he fights everyone from car thieves to the Lizard.
And Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy? There has never been an actress in a superhero movie who nails the girlfriend-of-the-hero role like Stone. She's never the damsel in distress. She's funny. She knows when to take action. Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson never seemed right for Peter Parker. The Amazing Spider-Man's Gwen Stacy is the perfect girl for Peter Parker.
Garfield and Stone have amazing chemistry (which is probably why they're a couple in real life now). The Peter-Gwen romance is tender and sweet, and there's no way you can't root for these two kids. Which is why a sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man is going to be heartbreaking. Gwen Stacy was Peter Parker's first real girlfriend, the true love he always pined for even when he was with Mary Jane Watson. If you're familiar with the comics, things don't end well for Gwen Stacy. After watching Garfield's Peter and Stone's Gwen fall in love in The Amazing Spider-Man, Webb is eventually going to have to crush our hearts ... and it's going to suck because those two are just so good in this film.
After setting up Dr. Curt Connors and the Lizard in the original Spider-Man trilogy (you remember that professor missing an arm?), Raimi never had the chance to tell the villain's story. Webb jumps right into it with The Amazing Spider-Man though, and he finally gives us the Lizard we've been waiting for. Rhys Ifans is excellent in both sides of the role. And for those of you wondering, yes, the Lizard wears a lab coat. And, yes, he talks.
Everything else in the film just works and just feels right. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, Sally Field as Aunt May, Denis Leary as Captain Stacy — once you see them all on screen, you'll wonder how you ever accepting anyone else in those roles. The special effects are fantastic, creating a seamless transition from actual Spider-Man stunt work to the CGI version of the webslinger. The film abandons Danny Elfman's Spider-Man score, but doesn't miss a beat with James Horner in the composer's seat instead.
If you still have your mind set on rooting against The Amazing Spider-Man, please, please change your mind. You're going to miss out on something special. You're going to miss out on hoping for Peter and Gwen to figure things out. You're going to miss out on cheering for Spider-Man as he accepts his burden and charges into battle against a foe much larger and stronger than he is.
When I saw the first trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man, I hoped that the film could be Spider-Man's Batman Begins. That it would relaunch the franchise in a way that wasn't campy and with a cast crew of a high caliber. Webb, Garfield, Stone and everyone else involved in this movie didn't disappoint. The Amazing Spider-Man is the Batman Begins of Spider-Man movies. With this success comes the burden of what comes next. If this is Batman Begins, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has to be Spider-Man's The Dark Knight. There are still secrets to be discovered in this new Spider-Man universe. Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin still lurk in future shadows. A date with a bridge still awaits Gwen Stacy.
The Amazing Spider-Man has set the foundation for a franchise with great potential. Of course, with that great power comes great responsibility.