by Brian Peterson
Along Came A Spider
Marc Webb Weaves The Most Intricate Spiderman Tale to Date
Now stop me if you’ve think heard this one before, a bullied high school student is bitten by a mutated spider and gains extrasensory perception, web slinging capabilities, and the ability to scale walls. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t I see this monotonous cliché ten years ago?” Before you go washing this reboot down the drain, do allow me to tingle your spidey sense if only for a little bit.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” While watching “The Amazing Spiderman,” you can’t help but think Sony executives whispered the iconic phrase into director Marc Webb’s ear when they entrusted the director with a 220 million dollar budget for a Spiderman reboot. Fresh out from a local press screening, I must say that any aspersions cast on this movie will be circumvented by an even bigger web cast by Andrew Garfield as your friendly neighborhood Spiderman and Emma Stone as Peter Parker’s love interest.
What makes this rendition of the pop culture phenomenon so appealing is the time Marc Webb devoted to character development. Never do any of these characters feel contrived or force-fed to the audience. As a moviegoer, you feel for the growing pains that Peter Parker endures as a nerdy high school outcast who is abandoned by his father, and left bullied and bruised by his fellow classmate Flash Thompson. The key to any good movie is also a likable villain, and you get that and more from Rhys Ifans who does double time as Dr. Curt Connors and as a cold-blooded, replicating reptile full of ravenous super villain rage who’s hell bent on regenerating a lost limb, while attempting to create a breed of super-humans who are impervious to the kind of elemental flaws that plague mankind. You sympathize with Dr. Connors as well as admire his brave descent into what amounts to little more than lizard exhibitionism when he conveniently forgets his pants at home to cause havoc in the streets of New York in nothing but a skimpy lab coat. If it were anywhere else in the world, he’d be locked up for indecent exposure.
Since we’re on the subject of mad science, lets delve into some chemistry. The onscreen chemistry between Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield is not only impeccably seamless; it’s the heart and soul of this story. For those of you going into this movie expecting all out action, be prepared for a let down as action is ancillary to the romance that unfolds between a shy, giddy schoolboy and an alluring high school heart throb in Gwendolyn Stacy. It’s only when Parker is bitten by a mutant spider that we see a sort of causative charisma finally take hold hence instilling him with the courage necessary to entangle Stacy in what literally is a love spun romance. If you thought Emma Stone was hot in “Easy A” just wait until you see her in the full aspect ratio of Imax-3D.
Andrew Garfield in his role as Spiderman just feels right. Although he is just a mere two inches taller than Tobey Macguire’s Spiderman, his long and lanky frame makes this incarnate of the web slinger feel more imposing when donning the unitard and mask. Once again, Uncle Ben is the catalyst for Spiderman’s ascension into the ranks of arachnid altruism when a fleeing grocery store robber guns him down. Yearning to find his Uncle’s murderer, Spiderman takes to the streets unleashing his own brand of vigilante justice. Garfield not only captures the bad guys in this movie, but also captures the vulnerability and believability as both Peter Parker and Spiderman. The self-made web shooters that so many people pissed and moaned about are a nice complement to this Spiderman costume and conjured up fond memories of the 70’s live action Spiderman television show that showcased Nicholas Hammond as its web crawler. From the start of this movie, I felt myself intrigued by the mysterious disappearance surrounding Parker’s parents, the briefcase left behind by his father, and the intricate web of treachery that led Peter to Oscorp and his run in with the Lizard.
Ten years after Sony’s first attempt at Spiderman, Marc Webb with the help of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have emphatically seized the web slinging reins from Sam Raimi and Tobey Macguire. I dare say that “The Amazing Spiderman” is Marvel Studios best movie yet; making the most of its two-hour and sixteen minute run time with an adolescence tale that’s wrought with emotional content. Make no mistake about it, this movie is not only Peter Parker’s coming of age tale, but also Andrew Garfield’s coming out party.
Final Word – 3 ½ Stars