Monday, July 30, 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-man

While I was watching The Amazing Spider-man, I was plagued with a problem common to movie-goers. As Peter Parker searched Bing and Gwen Stacy rocked a seemingly endless supply of knee-high boots, a baby in the audience provided seemingly endless crying and cooing. There was a brief moment when the mother left the theater, and I thought that I could finally enjoy the rest of the movie in peace. When she returned five minutes later, however, it was clear that it was just a bathroom break.

Additionally, the power shut down about five minutes before the movie was over. So if the quality of those last few minutes affected the movie greatly, this review isn't going to reflect that.

It's kind of ironic, considering that I rank fairly high on the arachnophobia scale, but I really like Spider-man. There's something appealing about the fact that he's just a relatively normal, kind of dorky high school kid who stumbles into superpowers. I enjoyed Spider-man and Spider-man 2 a lot. I'm not much of a comic book reader, so they were really my first foray into the Spider-man world. When I heard that the series was being rebooted, I was skeptical, but after Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were cast, I knew I'd probably end up going to see it.

The comparisons between 2002's Spider-man and this year's The Amazing Spider-man are inevitable. They cover a lot of the same ground, and because the first Spider-man was generally well-received, a remake wasn't exactly necessary. That doesn't mean, however, that it was entirely unwarranted. It's been a while since I've actually seen Spider-man, so I'm not the best person to compare the two. That doesn't mean, however, that I'm going to refrain from making them. Some major differences between the two stand out such as a change in love interest, an alternative villain, and a much sassier Spider-man. These differences between the two movies in addition to my enjoyment of origin stories meant that I really didn't mind watching some of the elements repeated from the first Spider-man film.

Excellent casting is one of the biggest strengths of The Amazing Spider-man. Andrew Garfield made an wonderful Peter Parker. Admittedly, most of my Spider-man knowledge is derived from the first trilogy, and I don't really know how Peter is depicted in the comics. However, I really enjoyed Garfield's performance. I also found the writing of the character to be interesting; rather than depicting Peter as complete nerd as the 2002 version did, this movie portrayed him as a slightly awkward teen who only ran into trouble with the school bully when he tried to help out another student. I thought that characterization was a nicely realistic approach to the character.

Emma Stone was another wise casting choice. While some real-life couples seem to lack on-screen chemistry, she and Andrew Garfield worked well together. They didn't share a moment quite as iconic as the upside down kiss between Mary Jane and Spider-man, but they were a fun couple to watch. I also appreciated Gwen Stacy as a character. She wasn't the most developed character ever, but she was smart and could hold her own.

While there was a lot I liked about The Amazing Spider-man, it wasn't perfect. I liked the Andrew Garfield/Emma Stone combination better than the Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst one, but I felt that the Aunt May and Uncle Ben of The Amazing Spider-man were quite a downgrade from the original characters. They weren't casted or written terribly in The Amazing Spider-man, but they were spot on and much more likable in Spider-man. While I suppose it was omitted to distance the two movies, I particularly disliked the absence of the "with great power comes great responsibility" line in The Amazing Spider-man

The movie's biggest weakness was probably its villain. Lizard wasn't a terrible villain, but he was somewhat lackluster. I even had to look up his name as I was writing this review because I'd just been calling him "lizard man." The villain portion of the movie felt a bit rushed, and Lizard seemed to mostly be there out of a necessity for the movie to have a villain.

While I had a few qualms with it, I really enjoyed The Amazing Spider-man. I was thoroughly entertained throughout the whole movie and was surprised to find out that it was over two hours long because it felt much shorter, even considering the few minutes I missed at the end.