The Amazing Spider-man
Directed by- Marc Webb
Running Time- 136 mins
Rated- PG 13
The “Spider-man” series gets a reboot five years after Tobey Maguire starred in director Sam Raimi's “Spider-man 3”. It is a short time to reboot a series, especially one produced by the same company and both with the stamp of approval by Stan Lee, the creator of the comic that the movie is based on. But Sony Pictures, Raimi, Maguire and the screenwriters all agreed to back away from making “Spider-man 4” citing the lack of a strong enough story for another sequel, paving the way for director, Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer), to start the Spider-man story over again.
Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) steps in as the new Peter Parker, the high school geek turned web-slinging vigilante after a bite from a radioactive spider changes his DNA. And instead of Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, as in the previous movies, it's Emma Stone starring as Gwen Stacy, Peter's classmate, fellow science enthusiast and love interest. Garfield turns out to be a great choice playing Peter not as a reluctant outsider like Maguire but as an outsider by choice. Someone already tough enough (even if not strong enough yet) to be a fighter for justice even before becoming Spider-man. There is a more convincing angst to this Peter Parker than the last. Stone is as adorable and charming as she always is and is better in this than Dunst because she is a better actress and she play Gwen as someone who Peter likes not just because of their physical attraction to each other because of their shared love of science. Stone is one of the best young actresses out there due to her warmth and humor and her ability to be both cute and sexy.
Screenwriters James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves do a better job telling the hero's origin story than their predecessors. In this version, Peter's father Richard is a brilliant scientist who genetically engineers spiders in the hopes of curing diseases by splicing human DNA with other species. Peter's parents die in a car crash and the tone of the movie suggest there is more to it than meets the eye. Peter stumbles onto his father's research and, in his search for answers, Peter seeks out the company Oscorp and Dr. Curt Connors, who worked with Richard before his death. Dr Connors, played by Rhys Ifans, is without his right arm and hopes his work will result in the restoration of his missing limb. It is while Peter is snooping around Oscorp that he gets bitten, which is more fitting than the last series where he gets bitten at a museum on a class trip.
Peter's mutation is almost immediate and manifests itself when he is in trouble on the subway. While he is sleeping Peter realizes a wise-guy trouble maker places a beer bottle on his forehead and his “Spidey” senses sense it and he snaps out of his sleep and immediately jumps off the subway seat into the air until he is hanging upside down on the ceiling of the subway car. He successfully stumbles through defending himself when his newly enhanced instincts take over. Peter diligently practices his new skills and in a short while learns to master his powers.
Uncle Ben and Aunt May, Peter's guardians since this parents left him with them shortly before their death, are played by veteran stars Martin Sheen and Sally Field respectively. The casting of the stellar actors adds a level of credibility the movie wouldn't have had otherwise. Sheen plays Ben as earnest and worried about Peter's integrity, while Field plays May as a constant source of love and comfort for Peter even as he comes home with new bruises every night.
Same as in the last version, it is Peter's failure to take care of his simple family obligations that result in an argument between him and Uncle Ben. When Peter runs away from the argument Ben follows him. Peter is two cents short at a convenience store and the cashier won't give him a break citing store policy. The next customer robs the store and when the cashier asks Peter to help him, Peter, out of spite, says “not my policy” and lets the crook go. The crook runs into Uncle Ben causing the crook to drop his gun and when Ben tries to stop the crook from picking his gun back up, Ben gets shot in the struggle and the crook gets away. Peter discovers Ben has been killed by the same man who he let go just a moment earlier and it is the search for that crook that motivates Peter to become Spider-man. He starts catching bad guys in the act of their crimes and leaves them captured in his home-made spiderwebs for the authorities. In a twist the policeman chasing Spider-man, Captain George Stacy, played by Denis Leary, is Gwen's father.
As in many superhero stories, the hero often creates the villain. Peter, in the hopes of answering the questions of his father's research, gives Dr. Connors the missing piece to his work, a piece Richard hid from Curt out of fear of the formula's applications. Dr. Connors uses the formula on himself, temporarily healing himself before it transformed him into an uncontrollable lizard-man. It is up to Spider-man to stop him before he transforms the whole city into lizard-people.
This new Spider-man is an improvement on the old version in many ways. The story is more organic and therefore more believable as are all the character motivations and the conflicts aren't as melodramatic. The action sequences are even cleaner and easier to follow and the score doesn't overpower the rest of the movie during the action sequences- which many of today's other action films make the mistake of doing. The humor is still a little campy but not as much as the previous series. If they keep this up with the sequels that are sure to follow, this new version of Spider-man should wind up even more successful than its predecessor both critically and at the box office.
Review Grade- A-