Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Get over it.  Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy is over and done.  Truth be told, the three movies as a whole were overrated.  Sure, the second installment stood as the standard of excellence for superhero narratives until Christopher Nolan threw his hat into the ring, but all of that goodwill was undone with Spiderman 3.  In case you’ve forgotten, flip on FX any night this week and remind yourself what a complete disaster that movie was – rife with problems that went far beyond just studio interference (though Raimi apologists would have you believe otherwise). 

You see, unlike many others, I am not frothing at the mouth with ripe indignation because Sony had the audacity to relaunch a franchise, which went out with a whimper a mere five years ago.  In fact, I have been excited for this film – its new cast and new sensibility - since it was announced that Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) would be at the helm.  Under his direction, I was sure the movie would be rich in character development and would handle the nuances of relationships with wit and subtlety.

I am happy to say that he does not disappoint.  While you will not find this film on anyone’s Oscar ballot, I can tell you that the movie is incredibly entertaining.  Peter Parker’s story is expertly developed in such a way that as he grows into the iconic hero, you find yourself paying close attention to the person and not the costume – no easy feat in a superhero movie.  What makes the film truly come together is the work of Andrew Garfield with real-life paramour Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), as they share an electric chemistry on screen that makes their awkward courtship feel genuine.  Against the grandeur of the city, the menacing circumstances, and the pseudo scientific jargon, their dynamic keeps the feeling of the film intimate. 

Garfield's Peter Parker is quick, sharp, and compelling as he  delivers a far more dynamic performance  than his predecessor Tobey Maguire.  As for Emma Stone, if you have not already become a fan of hers, this is the movie that will win you over once and for all.  Her Gwen Stacy is smart, funny, and every bit the equal of her paramour.  As for the rest of the cast, Rhys Ifans is very good as the troubled Dr. Connors – adding a credible antagonist to the proceedings; Denis Leary as Captain Stacy likewise is strong as a semi-foil to our hero; while Martin Sheen and Sally Field  (Uncle Ben and Aunty May) are adequate as mechanisms to advance  the plot.

My one issue with the film is that while I applaud the character development (which is its ultimate strength), I wonder if that came at the cost of sacrificing a bit in regards to action sequences.  In my opinion, a slight tweak of this balance would have greatly enhanced the film.  However, the action that does make it onto the big screen is incredibly fun and cleverly brings Spider-Man’s abilities to life in new ways.

All of these elements come together as a film that is more complete than the previous three.  It is witty, emotionally charged, and engaging; loaded with story elements that have a broad appeal.  I would definitely recommend this movie to one and all and recommend you see it on the big screen to enjoy the expertly framed shots.  You will not only be entertained, but you will also find yourself cheering for Spiderman and hoping that he and Gwen Stacy find a way to make things work.  Simply put, they are easy to root for.

Standout Performance: Emma Stone.  She has done a lot of very good work in past (The Help, Crazy, Stupid, Love, and Zombieland), but this one rates as my favorite of all.


Post a Comment