Jonathan Lansang on The Amazing Spider-man
Spider-man is my absolute favorite superhero, let me just get that out of the way. Ask a comic book fan who the best “normal” superhero is, and they’re sure to toss out a few Iron Mans, and Batmans, citing their incredible intellect, and peak-human abilities respectively as the pinnacle of human achievements. Both examples however, as great a pair of heroes as they are, happen to be ultra-billionaires with near-limitless resources. Peter Parker/ Spider-man, by contrast, has always been the underdog. The character often finds himself juggling real life problems like school, work, and relationships, and really, what’s more normal than that? What makes Spider-man such a great, heroic character, is that he has all these normal problems, and despite overwhelming odds, including villains who nine out of ten times are more powerful than him, he does every single thing he possibly can to do what’s right.
Okay, Spider-man essay out-of-the-way, how does the film stack up to its predecessors? In case you didn’t know, this isn’t Spider-man 4, but a complete reboot. (Spider-man 3 pretty much killed Sam Raimi’s version.) As do-overs go, 10 years is pretty damn recent. There will be several incidents throughout the first quarter or so of the film where anyone who’s seen the 2002 version may experience a bit of déjà vu, Peter Parker is an outcast, he gets bitten by a genetically altered spider, ultimately, his Uncle Ben is killed by a criminal Peter chose not to stop, instilling him with a sense of responsibility, all part of the Spider-man origin package. That said, it’s a testament to the new cast that they manage to shine in roles that were so recently vacated.
Andrew Garfield swings into the role of Peter quite naturally, though his version is a bit more rebellious, though no less of an outcast. Emma Stone is a perfect choice, for the gorgeous and brilliant Gwen Stacy. While some may ponder on the complete absence of the better known Mary Jane Watson, long time comic fans will remember Gwen as Peter’s… well… first love. Both geniuses end up working for the brilliant Curt Conners, portrayed by Rhys Ifans as a genuinely good soul who ends up corrupted by his creation. Rounding out the main cast are Dennis Leary as Gwen’s father, Captain George Stacy and Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben. While both play an important role in the growth of this burgeoning Spider-man, it’s Sally Field as Aunt May who almost effortlessly shows off why she’s won so many awards over the years.
Past the requisite origin is where The Amazing Spider-man truly starts to shine. You will cry when Uncle Ben dies, but come on, this is a super hero movie! Let’s get to the action! Director Mark Webb (haha) manages to capture the amazing-ness of the hero’s abilities like no film or video game has before. Once Peter starts exploring his abilities, we’re treated to some fantastic panoramic views of New York, including some impressive shots from the first person view which were a special treat (especially in IMAX 3D). While several of these sequences are on display, each manages to distinguish itself through some smart use of the city’s diverse architecture. The choreography is simply stunning, and almost got this old Spider-fan tearing up with how damn perfect it was. The flawless, fluid movement while beating thugs, the unnatural speed with which he dodges bullets, all are part of the graceful ballet which is Spider-man fully realized on film for the first time.
In the end, The Amazing Spider-man achieves all it set out to do and more. While the writing isn’t its strongest point, it does manage to reintroduce a character who’s still fairly fresh in audiences’ minds, while providing a good excuse for some action. Andrew Garfield is a great new fit for the role, with a snarkier, more sardonic Spidey whom fans should easily embrace. Finally, it manages to stand out in a sea of super hero movies as one of the most endearing, yet action-packed of the bunch. This is the Spider-man film that fans have been waiting for.