Garfield spins a fine web in “The Amazing Spider-man”
Published: Monday, July 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, July 23, 2012 07:07
With so many things working against it, the biggest of which being the bad taste left in the mouths of fans by the franchise’s previous installment “Spider-man 3,” it was hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel for a new Spider-man movie. Somehow, though, “The Amazing Spider-man” was able to capture audiences in its web.
“The Amazing Spider-man” is a reboot, and thus gives viewers a new interpretation of the web slinger’s origin story. Like in the original films, Peter Parker’s parents are gone, it was never made clear if they died or not, and he is still a genius outcast at school. But minuscule details allow newcomers to understand and relate to Parker’s troubles while fans of the movies and comic books can pick up homages to the previous films despite the fact that this takes place in an alternate universe. British actor Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”) plays Parker, while redhead bombshell-turned-blond Emma Stone (“Easy A” and “Zombieland”) plays Parker’s love interest, Gwen Stacy. This already throws a wrench into the more well-known couple of next-door neighbor Mary Jane Watson and Parker. Despite this, Stacy and Parker come off as a more realistic couple. Gwen Stacy is beautiful and smart,employed at Oscorp under world-renowned scientist Curt Connors, played by Rhys Ifans (Xenophilius Lovegood, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1”). Connors turns out to be the main antagonist of the film, The Lizard, a never-before-seen villain in Spider-man movies. Seasoned actors Martin Sheen (“The Departed”) and Sally Field (“Forrest Gump”) fill the roles of Uncle Ben and Aunt May while Denis Leary (“Rescue Me”) rounds up the star-studded cast as Gwen Stacy’s father, Captain Stacy.
The biggest elephant in the room is whether or not 28-year-old Garfield would be able to pull off the role of high-schooler Parker. In 2010, he showed off his acting skills in “The Social Network” as wingman to Jesse Eisenberg, but that was his first American film. In “The Amazing Spider-Man,” Garfield steals each scene he is in, putting his own spin on the famous Spider-man instead of trying to be another Tobey Maguire. Fans will forever compare the two, similar to the comparison between the actors who have played Batman. But each actor played the role in a specific way, and Garfied’s performance works perfectly for this film. Parker has to deal with death on multiple occasions during this movie, and Garfield plays this brilliantly, pulling at just the right heart-strings to get the audience involved and caring. When Parker has to be quirky and goofy, Garfield does this in a hilarious manner. Overall his performance is believable; it does not seem like a comic book character has simply been jumbled together and thrown onto a screen. He feels like a real person with real problems, which has always been the charm of Parker’s character.
Physically, Spider-man may not be the strongest superhero, and “The Amazing Spider-Man” makes this fact known. He is thrown from buildings, slammed into walls, and almost choked to death on multiple occasions. The film also shows off Spider-man’s different web slinging abilities. He does not just swing from buildings for four hours and give swing kicks to every bad guy’s face. He actually fights them, runs away and uses his webs in some creative and unexpected ways. He is seen doing hand-to-hand combat while throwing a few web shots in from time to time. Spider-man even crawls around The Lizard during a fight scene, wrapping him in a web as a real spider would. This film, perhaps more than the original “Spider-man” films, has painted a full picture of Spider-man, showing his life inside and outside of the mask and focusing on his strengths and weaknesses. After all, he is only a teenager.
There is a lot going on in this movie, as one would expect from an origin story, and the runtime clocks in at a whopping 2 hours and 14 minutes. However, the movie does not feel extensively long. As a whole it is a great base for the trilogy that director Marc Webb has in store for Spider-man. Hopefully production goes smoothly, before it gets caught up in the giant web of comic movies that are coming out next year.
“The Amazing Spider-man” receives 4 out of 5 stars.