The Amazing Spider-Man

Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man

 We’re all familiar with Spider-Man, he’s a major character in the Marvel market, arguably one of the most—if not THE most popular character of Marvel’s franchise; he kicks @$% in every game he’s in and very possibly has a following as big as Batman’s. Now, recently Spider-Man has been quiet because ever since the third installment of Sam Raimi’s movie series any idea of making another Spider-Man series has been shot down, we’ll call this the Schumacher effect, yeah, I went there. So, the question must be asked, how is this new installment of Spider-Man: is it a saving grace to the franchise much as Chris Nolan’s Batman series has been, or has the Schumacher effect purveyed to Raimi’s spiritual successor?

      Well first, let’s take a look at the characters, starting with the most important character, Spider-Man. I personally like the new look of the costume, it’s interesting, it puts a nice, new, shiny, modern feel on Spider-Man with it, I like it, even though it looks like it’s COVERED in CGI, which I’ll get to, but it is neat and reminds me, probably not by accident of the feeling I got when I saw Batman’s new costume in the Nolan films, it’s meant to present a new, modern feel, a fresh feel, like this is something new and you shouldn’t associate it with the previous films, probably a good move on Marc Webb’s part. I love that they’ve made Spider-Man seem much more like a force to be reckoned with in this film, because God knows he is. I say this because there is lot more and a lot better choreographed fighting in this rendition of Spider-Man, and it’s all very good, Spidey even incorporates his web-shooters (which are web cartridges, like they should be) in his fighting just like in the comics and TV shows we love. My problem with this is that the trade-off is that Spidey no longer makes his quips, wisecracks, jokes, or sarcastic comments, which is very upsetting because this a major part of Spider-Man’s character and personality, ask any comic aficionado, that’s his coping mechanism, that’s how he keeps his level head in fights. So while they got most of Spider-Man right, they got this major part wrong, but 2 outta 3 ain’t bad, right Meatloaf?

     Moving on, we’ve got Peter Parker, who in my opinion is a slight problem with this movie because while Andrew Garfield is good, the character he was given, is off. As well as modernizing Spider-Man, they also decided to modernize Peter Parker, this is a problem because it makes Parker seem almost cool, he’s given a skater punk/ hipster look and feel, which is okay, except he is supposed to be a nerd, like a hardcore nerd that no one likes, yet the only one who is really seen giving him a hard time is Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka); typically only his teachers are supposed to like him and even that’s shaky because he’s often too busy being Spider-Man to do anything else, in this he just seems awkward, not like Tobey  Maguire who was rather spot-on, but he was a perfect image of Parker, that was universally agreed upon, so I’ll allow some modifications on the director’s part, but making him a skater/hipster is a little too much, I think.

The Lizard played by Rhys Ifans.

A second picture of the Lizard, from the back, this time a scene from the movie.

The Lizard was the villain in this movie and I think it’s an interesting choice, I like it because it’s like Webb’s borrowing from the “Nolan” method and using an unfamiliar villain, which I appreciate because then it makes not as dedicated fans or typical movie fans more aware of an unheard-of villain, this also means something else important: the director can fashion the villain in any way he or she likes without too much scrutiny or crying about source material because the villain is not that iconic, like if Webb used Goblin, Venom, or Doc Ock right away, he would most certainly fall under scrutiny from SOMEONE, which is why Nolan used R’as al Ghul and Scarecrow first in the Batman series: they’re strong, loved villains by the fans and they’re also lesser-known by the general populace so they can’t bring their jaded view of overused and underdone villains with them to the movies, no one wants that. As a comic book nerd and fan, I can say The Lizard was done well, he looked far more like the original rendition of him in the comic rather than the rendition most people, particularly my age, are familiar with which is the form he dons in the critically acclaimed ‘90s cartoon we all so loved and watched, ironically, the first episode of that series is “Night of the Lizard,” maybe Webb was making kind of a “hats off” gesture to the series as the episode does somewhat reflect the movie in ways. In this same way, some people may complain that The Lizard can talk, but in many renditions of his character he can, so no real points off there, again, the look may bother some people, but I thought he looked pretty cool, his story and intentions were well-developed and he was a good character, simple, but effective. Though I wish they would’ve done more with the relationship with Peter’s father, they seemed to really play that up in the beginning and then just leave it behind in the dust in favor of Peter slowly becoming Spider-Man, though it appeared that more would be done with that subject in the second film in the secret ending, it features the next villain, but I’ll leave that for you to figure out.

     Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) was the love interest in this particular film, and some of you might be thinking “who the Hell is Gwen Stacy?” well, she was Spider-Man’s first love interest and main squeeze, that is until Green Goblin caused Spider-Man to accidentally kill her. She’s a very good love interest in this story because she’s cute, immediately starts the love story instead of dragging it painfully on like Raimi did in his rendition with Mary Jane, and Peter tells her his secret which instantly makes her a more identifiable character because you don’t feel malice towards her because she isn’t busy being pissed that Peter’s always late, or never there, or any of the other typical annoying complaints we hear from love interests, honestly, directors, this just makes us want them to get the HELL off the screen, as far as we’re concerned, you’re getting in the way of our heroes by complaining to them about how they’re late because they just saved the WHOLE of New York, no big deal, but please, continue complaining about how he’s an hour late to your damn play. There’s not much to be said about her, but like I said, she’s a good character, and you don’t even have to deal with the “well I better let her go at the end so she doesn’t get hurt” s%!^ that we constantly have to deal with. While I’m on the subject of Gwen let’s talk about her father, too, Captain Stacy, yes, he’s captain of the police force, lucky Peter, but you can be sympathetic towards him, he tries, he really does, Dennis Leary does pretty well in a serious role because you wouldn’t think he could do it since he’s such a funny comedian, but you forget that watching this, much like you do when watching him in Rescue Me, it works, he ends being a major role at the end even though it felt a little rushed, but I don’t want to spoil that for you.

     Ben and May Parker, one of the cornerstones of Peter’s career as Spider-Man, without them he wouldn’t be who he is so they’re a fairly important role and should be treated as such, which Webb accomplishes WONDERS with, in Raimi’s version they were kind of just the parents, that’s really it, whereas in this you see Peter being dropped off with them, you see the transition that isn’t quite perfect, you see them trying to compensate for his parents leaving him and protecting him from that, and you see his resentment towards his parents. It’s very interesting and very well done, you actually feel sympathy towards them and can identify with the characters’ plight and it makes the movie better. How uncle Ben dies is a little different as the circumstances are different, but in my opinion it’s just as effective and just as heart-wrenching, again, it’s a very well done scene really giving Peter a slap in the face about his morals, his family, and of course, most of all, responsibility. You see aunt May suffering after uncle Ben’s death and how Peter really changes after it, she goes out of the picture a little bit after a point to be replaced by Gwen Stacy as a focus, but she still holds credence to keeping Peter safe, looking after him, and worrying about him.

     Let’s move onto the story, which, itself isn’t bad, as I mentioned before it focuses more on Peter finding out about his parents and Dr. Connors’ connection to them. I will admit though that the Lizard’s ultimate plan (no spoilers) is a little goofy and comic book  cliché, yes, this is a comic book movie, but still, this was even a little far for me, but seeing as one of the side-effects mentioned is his insanity, I’ll let it go, for the most part. The story moved just at the right speed I thought, only to be caught up a little in the Gwen Stacy relationship and even his transition to his costume which took a little while at parts, but it’s something I can forgive because it’s a necessary part of the story. At some points I didn’t feel like the characters’ relationships were solidified enough like between Peter and Connors or Peter and Capt. Stacy to merit some of the interaction between them, but I understand that they had to make so many things happen in the span of one movie, so again, forgivable.

     The other main thing I want to talk about though is the CGI, and it’s strenuous overuse in this movie. That did bother me a little bit: The Lizard is made entirely of CGI (expected, maybe, but I miss the old days of costumes and actually liked how Raimi did that with the Green Goblin, and it worked), Spider-Man’s costume-covered in CGI, the effect is neat, but it’s unnecessary and can take away from the believability a bit, the spiders in the lab are incredibly CGI, some of the fight scenes were even plastered with CGI, it was weird sometimes, but that’s about it.

     Overall, the characters and acting was great, the comic accuracy was pretty good, even giving Spider-Man web shooters-FINALLY-and The Lizard looked like his original rendition with a story mixed in from the ‘90s cartoon we all know and loved, which I respect. There was some over-the-top stuff like over-dramatizing in some scenes, but mostly it was good. The fighting was great and WAY better than what we got from Raimi, by a long shot, and the story pans out great,  so this is worh seeing, it’s STILL in the theaters (that should tell you something) so go give it a try, you won’t regret it.

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