The Amazing Spiderman

The Amazing Spiderman is a perfectly fine film, with perfectly fine actors (one of them mighty fine (I’m looking at YOU Emma Stone)), with a perfectly good plot. It even, FINALLY, busts one of the most common superhero tropes all to pieces– although not everyone agrees that this was a good thing. But the people who disagree with me are stupid socialists, so don’t trust them anyway. More on that later.

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Released July 3, 2012

Written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Kloves, based on the comic by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Directed by Marc Webb

Starring Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield, Embeth Davidtz, Sally Field, Martin Sheen, Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans, Campbell Scott, and C. Thomas Howell

Rated PG-13

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Story

Seriously? You need a story synopsis? Okay, here goes:

Peter Parker (Garfield) has been raised by his Aunt May (Field) and Uncle Ben (Sheen) since his parents (Scott and Davidtz) left him with them many years before, dying soon after in a plane crash. He’s a nerd and a genius and has impressive skills with math. When he finds his father’s old briefcase, his curiosity leads him to his father’s old employer, Oscorp, and his father’s old partner, Curt Connors (Ifans). At Oscorp, Peter is bitten by a genetically modified, radioactive spider (Burt the spider), which results in him getting super spider powers.

On the personal front, Peter carries a torch for Gwen Stacy (Stone), a smart, well-adjusted, lovely young woman whom his bully, Crash, also likes. Conveniently, Gwen works at Oscorp as an intern, but this is well-motivated by the plot. Her dad (Leary) is chief of police in New York– all of which sets up some nice conflict points.

Meanwhile, Dr. Connors has been searching for a final equation to help him figure out cross-species genetic mutations, partly so he can grow his severed arm back. This of course leads him to become Spiderman’s enemy, the Lizard.

Critique

This reboot is not necessary. Let’s just get that right out. The original trilogy is so completed, and quite good really, so it’s kind of a money-grab to make this film.

Now that we can all agree on that and it’s accepted, let’s talk about this film on its own merits.

The story isn’t much new, although it’s nice to have a little more about Peter’s parents play a part in the film.

It’s a good movie. Parker’s glee at his sudden, emerging powers is great. His intellect and core decency, combined with his awkwardness and authentic teen-ness, make for an engaging teenage Spiderman and nascent hero. Garfield does a very fine job with Peter Parker, making him vulnerable and cocky and insulting and selfish and still good. He is rude to his adopted parents. He is careless at times.

But at his core, he’s a good kid.

Gwen Stacy is very nicely played by Emma Stone. By golly, can she do wrong? She doesn’t take crap from people, happily speaks her mind, but is respectful of her parents’ wishes and is unsure of herself when faced with an actual growing crush on the nerd Peter Parker.

Garfield and Stone have a totally believable spark here. Surely most of us can remember meeting someone and just feeling a deep connection almost right away. This happens believably here, with both of them very effectively playing the awkward, surprised-by-how-fast-and-great things are moving relationship.

Denis Leary is a believable chief. Martin Sheen is a great Uncle Ben, and Sally Field is a somewhat too-preserved Aunt May, but she does a fine job. Rhys Ifans is as good a villain as any we’ve seen; he plays Curt Connors sympathetically and gives us a reason to not hate him.

Another treat of this fine movie is the fact that Spiderman is a lot more spiderlike than we’ve seen before. He moves more like a spider, clings to walls and ceilings and scuttles. This is a daring and interesting move on the part of the filmmakers, and it works. The web-monitoring scene is great.

Then there’s the superhero trope of keeping your superhero persona secret from your loved ones. They break that trope in this film, and it’s about frakking time.

You also have a scene where Peter makes a promise to keep Gwen out of his life, to protect the one he loves through deception and hiding his feelings. This causes trouble between them, of course, and later a teacher tells Peter, “Don’t make promises that you can’t keep.” What he says in response seems like a cop out, and there is an integrity issue, but aren’t we fed up with male heroes deciding they have to protect the one they love, hiding the truth from them and crap like that? This movie trashes that entire trope, letting Gwen Stacy decide how she’s going to live with a superhero as a boyfriend.

In all seriousness, this relationship is the best part of the movie. Gwen is her own person, makes her own decisions about Peter, even chases him a bit because she’s so intrigued by him and his decency– and he respects her enough to tell her the truth from the very start.

Awesome.

The Amazing Spiderman was not a film that needed to be made. However, it was made and it was made well. It doesn’t offer much in the way of new beyond sundering a few superhero tropes, but it’s still pleasant to watch. What’s more, it’s nifty to see how much love the makers of this film had for the Spiderman mythos.

The Amazing Spiderman doesn’t pack much of a punch, but it delivers solid entertainment. Also, stay through the credits.

Content warnings: some violence, some harsh language, some tense moments

Writing: 4          Acting: 4.5          Overall: 4

Spiderman, Spiderman,
wants you to share this where you can,
on Facebook, and Twitter,
just make sure you spam your friends.
Look out, here comes the Spiderman.

Also, dare to compare my review with those on Rotten Tomatoes!

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About jared

Jared Garrett works as a writer, the manager of a program development department in the corporate world, and an instructional designer. He is a family man with an adorable, fun, and way-too-smart wife, six silly kids, a new house with an overgrown back yard, seven fish, and a bunch of chickens. He has written fiction, user manuals, SEO copy, radio scripts and textbooks and has won first place in the Mayhew writing contest at BYU and received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. He lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and is currently seeking representation for his myriad completed novels.
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