So most people know the story of orphaned teenager Peter Parker, aka Spider-man, right? He gets bitten by an unusual spider and develops unusual super-spidey senses and powers that he initially uses to avenge the killing of his uncle, but then realizes that with great power comes greater responsibility, and so he adjusts his perspective and uses his spider power to fight crime and make the world a better place. Yeah – nothing new with this flick in that regard. And as expected, it’s a great action film and very well done and it is highly recommended. You will not be disappointed.
So when you make a summer blockbuster movie about a well-known character and story, and you do this only 10 years after it was just successfully done (and followed by two sequels), and these films were extremely popular, well – you have to expect comparisons galore. But I’m not going to compare Andrew Garfield to Tobey Maguire as Spider-man. (Garfield does an excellent job and really brings out the teen angst better, plays it a little darker, albeit without little trace of humor or fun.) And I won’t compare leading ladies Emma Stone and Kirsten Dunst. (Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is brainier and more sophisticated – no whiny, narcissistic, starving actress here – although one can get the impression that Gwen would most likely NOT give Peter Parker the time of day – but of course, we are glad she does.)
I’m not going to compare the way Peter Parker gets bit by a spider and how he discovers – then comes to grips – with his new powers. (Thankfully THIS Peter Parker uses this power against the school bully and not as a pro wrestler.) Or how one Peter Parker shoots organic webs that come from within his wrists, while this Peter Parker magically creates mechanical web devices that he wears. (Although both are hard to swallow, I’d have to opt for the organic version.) Or how they both strike out in revenge against the killer of Uncle Ben. (Both films benefitted from having extremely talented top-notch Oscar-winning veteran actors – oh wait, Martin Sheen has never even been nominated…WHAT??? A travesty… No clear win in this category…)
This time around we get to know Peter Parker a little better and deeper before he becomes Spider-Man. Some might say this makes for a slow start, but I preferred getting to know the teenager first and appreciated this aspect. We get better backstory on our villain, too, (Dr. Curt Connors played by Rhys Ifans), who does a Jekyll/Hyde turn and becomes the Lizard. The CG for this character seemed a bit over-the-top, but I got used to it quick enough, and after all, that is what is expected in a summer blockbuster, right? I missed the character of The Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson, who to me seems intrinsic for the full development of Peter Parker. Maybe he’ll show up in subsequent films in this series. On a positive note, I liked the vulnerability of this Peter Parker: he bruises and bleeds, and does so quite often actually.
The Amazing Spider-Man’s Peter Parker wants to do what is right and struggles with his initial vindictive nature following the death of his uncle Ben. His uncle had explained to him that Peter’s deceased father always strived to do the right thing. For his father, it was never a “choice” to do the right thing, but felt it was his responsibility and an obligation. This is a great principle to live by and one that is explored deeply and thoroughly within the film. And Peter Parker’s Aunt May (wonderfully played by another Oscar-winning actor, Sally Field) tells him that secrets always have a price. And this is lesson Peter learns in the movie, too. One disappointing theme in The Amazing Spider-Man has to do with the statement that “broken” promises sometimes are the best kind. Although this is explored briefly, it is at the end of the film, making it one that remains with the moviegoer after leaving the theatre. I’m not sure they needed to go there in this film, even if it might be needed to set up a sequel. Kept promises always seem to be the best kind in my opinion.
In summary: The Amazing Spider-Man has great action, fantastic special effects, a strong storyline with compelling characters, and lots of big, loud moments to keep us on the edges of our seats. Sounds like a summer blockbuster to me – and The Amazing Spider-Man is just that. But I still have to wonder if all this was necessary so soon after the last one… ah, forget all that and go enjoy this fun film. Is it better? I am not sure I would say that – but I would say it is pretty comparable.

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Comments
  1. […] 5 minutes into the film. With a resume that includes Interactive Graphics Designer on such hits as The Amazing Spiderman and Charlie’s Angels, Lubanski knows how to work the visuals. The animations and graphics are […]

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