“Spider-Man belongs to everyone.”
Swift shot: They finally addressed the fact that Peter Parker is more than just a teenager with a fortunate spider-bite, he is a real person, and more to the point, he is a genius! Fans of Spider-Man, the “real” Spider-Man, whatever that means anymore, should be incredibly happy to see a more compassionate person, rather than a caricature of what Hollywood thinks we want to see on the big screen, Andrew Garfield’s Parker was real in many ways. In a few scenes, even the way he sat on the floor felt real, un-staged, and maybe the lanky guy that I am can appreciate how it works . . . tucking your knee under your chin and focusing intently on a book on the floor. Little physical tricks like that helped flesh-out Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man and while it is a giant Summer action blockbuster, there was a slight pulse throughout that couldn’t be ignored. You feel for these characters in a big way.
When we first see Peter, he is only about seven years old, and his parents are still in his life. But someone decides to destroy the happy home, and his parents flee in the night, leaving Peter scared, confused and a bit angry as he grows up without his real parents to guide him. His Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Fields) are wonderful, but they just aren’t his parents. A boy needs his father, and Peter’s quest to find answers to his father’s fate lead him to his destiny and molds the destinies of those around him in ways he will never be able to reconcile.
The teenaged Peter is a hero in his own right, whilst he may not have the physical mettle to stand up to injustice, his heart and courage are remarkable. He is smitten by Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who is probably as smart, if not smarter than he is, but he isn’t really on her radar as far as he knows. The direct-from-central-casting bully, Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) thinks he can get any girl, but Gwen isn’t interested in him either.
One night, when Peter happens upon his father’s briefcase, he discovers a clue about his father’s work, and his dad’s old partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) conveniently is hosting a group of interns from his school . . . and Gwen happens to be in charge of the group. It might have been a bit too convenient, but we’ll let that pass, as this is where Peter, again searching for clues, manages to find himself in a web of intrigue when he gets bit by . . . duh, a “special” spider. Dr. Connors’ research is only missing one piece, a formula that Peter’s father was working on solving. It never occurred to Peter that maybe his dad didn’t want Connors solving the riddle of genetic manipulation. From here, I think you can figure out the rest, no spoiler alert needed, Parker becomes Spider-Man and Connors eventually becomes The Lizard. [By the way, that was the number one answer when I asked my twitter followers their favorite Spider-Man villain . . . mentioned in my interviews above]
Dr. Denis Leary turns in a solid performance as Captain Stacy, Gwen’s dad. He’s a good-guy, which Leary admits is against his grain as an actor, so it was a novel role for him. Stacy sees Spider-Man as a masked nutjob, a vigilante going around doing police work the wrong way. In one somewhat dramatic scene, Stacy and Parker are debating on the morality of Spider-Man and how he doesn’t let the little fish get away, he busts all skulls. I like that scene, because it developed the characters in a way that most of us could relate . . . if you have ever been at one of those dinners you wish you could just jettison yourself away from the table because the conversation is getting way too serious.
You’ll note this review, like the film, is focusing on the story more than the cool Spider-Man stuff. I was impressed by the special effects team and the stunt crew, and visually this film stands out as really delivering that immerseve quality that a lot of CGI-rich films lack. I had the opportunity to peak at some of the behind the scenes stuff whilst waiting for our interviews, and I can tell you a lot of the physical stuff is done by people, that is why it doesn’t look like a giant cartoon. And, yes, I saw it in 3D IMAX, and Director Marc Webb [that still makes me chuckle, Web / Spider] added some first-person wall-crawling effects in there . . . most likely for fans of the video games. I thought it was a nice touch, it was almost over-used, but he managed to avoid that trap. Oh, and speaking of traps, the sewer trap scene was ripped right out of the comics and was so well done, showing how Parker can be a genius and the biggest web-head on the planet by overlooking one key element when laying out his trap for The Lizard.
After I met Emma Stone, I feel I would be doing her injustice if I didn’t point out that she brought to life a character that is probably often over-looked in the Spider-Man nerd-verse in Gwen Stacy. Gwen’s character is the glue that keeps Peter, Captain Stacy and Dr. Connors weaved together in a complex story about a boy struggling to find himself as he faces ghosts from his past, deals with tragedy and power and all whist still not being able to legally drink.
I had one person comment that this film should never have been made, granted, they didn’t see it yet. They were reacting out of anger that the other trilogy was dead, but I am like Andrew Garfield, I just wanted to see my ‘buddy’ on the screen again. Spider-Man is, by far, my favorite Marvel character, he is surrounded by so much tragedy and pain, yet he still maintains his morality and avoids evil choices. If you search the Marvel wiki, there are countless versions of Spider-Man, and whilst this film may be yet another version, it was highly entertaining. And, I caught the ORIGINAL 1967 series Spider-Man [the one with the best song on the PLANET] wherein Dr. Curt Connors is a doctor in the Florida Everglades who has both arms and is trying to cure swamp-fever! So, yea, spare me any attacks that this film isn’t the REAL Spider-Man . . . he doesn’t exist. Yet, he does exist, we are all Spider-Man . . . otherwise, what’s the point of loving the character?