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:: The Amazing Spider-Man

In 2002, Sam Raimi brought the first Spider-Man film adaptation to the screen, starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, and Willem Dafoe. The film spawned two sequels, and quickly became one of the most profitable movie franchises in history. Ten years later a new re-boot of the Spider-Man legend arrives in theatres, with Andrew Garfield donning the spidey-suit, Emma Stone taking on the love interest role as Gwen Stacy, and the villain is brand-new as Rhys Ifans tackles the Marvel Comic Book made iconic Lizard. A remake of a franchise a mere decade later may seem to be unwarranted, and given the huge fan base of Raimi's Spider-Man unwanted. Director Marc Webb, a man whose name begs to be at the helm of a Spider-Man film, and screenwriters James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Kloves have more than done justice to the Spider-Man screen legend. In fact, they may have improved it exponentially, much in the same way that Batman Begins surpassed the previous Batman films.

The Amazing Spider-Man creates a more humanised, less punchy, darker telling of the Peter Parker/Spider-Man story while infusing it with sympathetic characters and intellect. Spider-Man is not merely a boy playing at wearing a skin-tight suit, battling bad-guys in the night in order to play with his new-found powers, nor a boy needing to prove himself to anyone, while trying to get the girl of his dreams. The Amazing Spider-Man stands on its own as a film, needing not to be associated with the comic book or in need of a viewer who has any background in the subject matter. Therefore, even the least likely comic-book movie attendee will enjoy the film.

The film follows the life of high-school student, Peter Parker. Peter’s Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) have raised him from a child, after his parents quickly got out of town. Life at school is tough for Peter. He’s pushed around and seen as a typical geek. He also has a pretty strong crush for heartthrob Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone). His hopes of actually getting her attention are slim at best.

Peter is obsessed with unraveling the secrets behind his parent’s disappearance. After finding some documents that his father had left behind, Peter heads to the scientific monolith that is Oscorp Tower. Peter determines if he can talk to his father’s former partner, Dr. Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans), that perhaps he can discover what his father was trying to hide. Dr. Connors has been continuing the research interspecies genetic mutation, but was always missing the secret. Peter has provided him with the equation he was missing. Then just like ten years ago, Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider transforming him into the hero Spider-Man.

The strength of the reboot lies in the interactions between Peter and Gwen. Their romance feels young and exciting which is a major plus for this film, where the original Spider-Man saga seemed eager to bring the characters out of high school. Sony Pictures has been very vocal about their new direction for the Spider-Man series and the romance is more impressive than the action. That’s not to say Marc Webb didn’t try to create a visual spectacle. There are very specific shots in The Amazing Spider-Man that seem made for 3D. It’s very easy to pinpoint why exactly those shots exist. A sequence earlier in the film with Peter riding his skateboard, with musical accompaniment from Coldplay, seems to be a result of this vision. Also, a shot where Spider-Man struggles to get to Oscorp Tower falls into this issue.

The film does look great in 3D. Definitely the best 3D that I’ve seen in any of the Marvel slate of films so far, so if you can swing the extra cost to see it in that format do so, it’s worth it. Garfield & Stone are great in their roles and their chemistry has spilled over to real life as they are now a couple. Denis Leary plays Gwen’s dad and he is perfectly cast in the role as well. He projects confidence & disdain perfectly and when he’s onscreen you’re going to be riveted by his performance.

The Amazing Spider-Man is more true to the original comics and is a solid foundation for future films. Hopefully, the next one will be able to fully make its own way without comparisons to an earlier entry.