The Amazing Spider-Man
Everyone is just unfairly attractive, and somehow they manage to act like real people.
July 6, 2012 2:30 pmKaitlin McManus
Okay, listen up: I’m going to try and be as impartial as possible here, but I apologize in advance for any Tumblr-like fangirling. Trust me, with Andrew Garfield as the leading man, it’s hard to avoid. So bear with me, because I’ve found love in a hopeless place and I’m having a hard time getting over it long enough to write an honest review. Now don’t get me wrong: I was not sold on the franchise reboot on good looks and previews alone. Oh no. Toby McGuire’s Spider-Man was my first superhero movie, and he was my first celebrity crush. I was nine and adorable, so shut up. I wasn’t going to let him go with hardly more than a decade under the mask without a fight. But, this reimagining starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, Never Let Me Go) as Peter Parker and Emma Stone (Easy A, The Help) as Gwen Stacy had me changing the words of the theme to “Spidey-Ass, Spidey-Ass,” and changing my tune to the idea of change.
The story isn’t too much different than the previous series, despite misleading previews. I thought that the Parker couple was experimenting on little Peter and he only figured it out fifteen years later, but this is not so. He was bitten, same as before. I saw it. There is the element of figuring out what his dad was hiding, but they’re saving the whole story of that for the sequel. It’s not even a real issue in this movie. Anyway, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) is a herpetologist at Oscorp (Name drop! Green Goblin’s in the next one!), trying to perform cross-species genetic enhancement. He lost half of his arm, and is trying to grow it back, basically. Eventually, tests with mice work out, so he runs human trials. On himself, because he does not want his associate to try the injection on unwitting US Veterans. Well, he turns into the Lizard because that’s how it works in comics – if you’re a flawed scientist trying to fix himself, you turn into something hideous and, more often than not, green. In trying to stop his coworker from crossing a bridge and giving the medicine to innocent people, he knocks two dozen cars off the side and almost kills everyone present. This is pretty typical for Ifans’ characters – always trying to do what’s right but ending up screwing over everyone (he portrayed Xenophilius Lovegood in the Harry Potter films). Connors relocates to an underground lair, taking the whole “crocs in New York sewers” thing to an extreme. There’s more to the plot, of course, but you know me. I like to give everything but the last half hour away. Suffice to say that it’s on par with just about every other superhero movie in existence, especially the first in a series. Plot-wise there aren’t any real risks taken, which can be good or bad. Personally I didn’t mind, but I couldn’t blame anyone for being annoyed with the cut-and-paste plot.
I’m going to forgo explaining Garfield’s perfect butt, hair, face, and shoulders for the moment, and talk to you for real. When we walk into superhero movies, there are things we’ve come to expect whether your allegiance lies with Marvel or DC. One of these things is a cast of larger-than-life characters. Caricatures of people, really: the paladin-pure hero, the dastardly villain, and the distressed damsel of a girlfriend. What makes The Amazing Spider-Man so, well, amazing is that it chucked those conventions off of a cliff and put real people on the screen. Stone was a brilliant Gwen – not only was she brilliant, she was resourceful and managed to stay out of the Lizard’s clutches for the entire movie! She even attacked it with a blowtorch. It was awesome.
Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) were more than just the cutest elderly couple I’ve ever seen. They acted like real parents. They weren’t overbearing or distant like most movie parents. They punished Peter when he screwed up and were upset when he came home looking like he got the crap kicked out of him, like normal people. The only awkward thing about them was Ben’s line, “If you have the ability to do some good in this world, you have a moral obligation to do so.” A clumsy rewrite of, “With great power comes great responsibility” and slightly groan-worthy when you realize that. Dr. Connors was just a man trying to heal himself and got carried away. Even Flash, the bully, was a human being. When Ben is murdered he stopped picking on Peter because he felt bad for the kid. That’s so human it surprised me more than anything else. Bullies are tools (not that kind), flat characters at best. To give that character a heart goes to show that they really put in the effort to make everyone in this movie as realistic as possible. Even the dialogue was realistic in that sense, if you add a suspension of disbelief for witty one-liners. Only Peter remained a bit “typical.” The nerd kid without a date, with only his skateboard, hipster camera, and hipster glasses to comfort him, Peter has always been a good kid who looked in on his life from the outside, and Garfield translated this well. He also has the ability to act like a high school kid one minute, then cry and look like a little boy again when appropriate (I promise, that’s a good thing). He’s also really attractive, in case that wasn’t already obvious.
A lot of the swinging effects were very similar to the previous trilogy, except this time Peter had to make his web shooters, like in the comics, rather than have the silk form organically. Much of Garfield’s body language while wearing the suit took me back ten years, and I’m not sure if it was on purpose or not. However, they introduced several new elements. Parkour (street acrobatics) was one of the more obvious inspirations, as everyone and their sidekick were running up walls, flipping in midair, what have you. The effects were nothing to sneeze at, mind you, but it was the stunts that really pulled with movie through in the action department. This movie really is a visual stunner, and worth a look if only for that reason.
The quick version: the characters are realistic and relatable, the stunts are quite impressive, but the story isn’t exactly anything new. Martin Sheen and Sally Field are adorable, Emma Stone is beautiful, and Andrew Garfield has seduced me with his awkwardness. Everyone is so freaking cute I can’t stand it, and it’s still a cool movie to boot. There are only two downsides to this movie. One is that Stan Lee's cameo is as a opera-listening librarian, when he is way more fitting to be the insane chemistry teacher. Two,that the guy who killed Uncle Ben looked a lot like Chad Kroeger, and I think Ben deserves a little better in death than Nickelback. Everyone does.
|FIND YOUR GEEK RATING||5.0|