Monday, July 09, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

I remember when I first heard that Warner Bros. was in the process of making Batman Begins. I actually laughed at the idea. Maybe it wasn't so much a laugh as it was a snort of derision. But could you blame me? Batman & Robin sucked. And it had only been a few years since that stinkfest hit the theaters in 1998. Sure seemed way too soon for a reboot. And then I saw Batman Begins. And it was awesome.

When I heard that Columbia had decided to reboot the Spider-Man franchise, I'm pretty sure I let go of another derisive snort. Maybe even a guffaw. The first part of Sam Raimi's trilogy only came out 10 years ago. The final part was in the theater just 5 years ago.

And look, I'm not one to say that Spider-Man 3 was a horrible movie. It wasn't exactly a good movie either. My opinion on the thing is that there was just too much going on. It got cluttered and confusing. It was kind of a mess. So, again, I laugh.

And then I saw the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man. Even though a part of me still believed it was ridiculous to reboot a franchise this quickly, the images flashing on the screen looked... well... amazing. Would Andrew Garfield be able to top Tobey Maguire as everyone's favorite wallcrawler? I'd seen the guy in The Social Network, but I didn't know if he was the kind of guy to pull off a superhero role. But would you have thought the same about the kid from Pleasantville?

Sidebar: I'm not much of a fan of Tobey Maguire. For me, the Spider-Man films were great for reasons beyond the star's acting abilities. Well, the first two anyway.

Friday night I got the chance to actually see The Amazing Spider-Man. I thought it was kind of awesome. It is absolutely a rehash of everything we saw in the first Spider-Man. I mean, there are some key differences. There's no Green Goblin. In fact, we never even see Norman Osborn, but you know he's there somewhere. After all, Dr. Curt Connors works for Oscorp, as did Peter Parker's late father. So the villain is different, as is the leading lady. This time around, the creators decided to pair Peter with Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone.

Sidebar 2: I likes me some Emma Stone.

Anyway, the rest was your basic origin story. It's something we've all come to know very well over the last few decades. Even more so since seeing the 2002 version of the origin. Parker's bitten by a special spider, he gets super powers, he puts on a mask. He's given a speech about how great power brings on great responsibility by his Uncle Ben, who later suffers a violent death at the hands of someone that Peter could have easily stopped beforehand. I really hope that's not a spoiler. If it is, you really need to immerse yourself in a little more pop culture.

I do think that Garfield made a better Peter Parker than Maguire did. Maybe it's the writing, but I also believe the acting had something to do with it too. Peter Parker is this brainy kid who is obviously a little socially awkward. Even after he's gained his powers, he still has trouble having a conversation with Gwen. At least, at first. But the second he puts on that mask, he's able to crack wise at the expense of unsuspecting criminals on the street.

As for the rest of the cast, Rhys Ifans was great as Dr. Connors/The Lizard. Okay, CGI was great as The Lizard. But the character was pretty classic as a Jekyll/Hyde kind of story. Which I guess is really familiar if you think about the Norman Osborn/Green Goblin angle from a decade ago. Also, Sally Field was a great Aunt May. She was younger and cooler and not quite so fragile, even after the death of Uncle Ben.

Overall, it was good. I'm not sure that I'd call it better than Spider-Man 2, which was, by far, the best of the Raimi trilogy. But very good nonetheless.

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