When Sony announced that they’d reboot Marvel’s biggest film franchise (at least, Marvel’s biggest film franchise before The Avengers came out), fans were divided. Some thought it was a cheap cash-in, and have hoped for its failure so that the rights would revert to Marvel in order for it to be tied to the Avengers. Others have hoped for a film closer to their idea of Spidey as opposed to the Sam Raimi trilogy. Personally, I was hoping for a fresh take on the character, akin to what Christopher Nolan did with Batman. And wouldn’t you know it, I got my wish.
Marc Webb is more well-known for his indie romance hit (500) Days of Summer, but he manages to use that strength well for crafting believable human interactions in the midst of an awesome superhero film. In fact, he seems to have a grasp of how to keep things grounded in reality, even with the more fantastic moments of the film. While Raimi focused more on the bigger scale, more comic-book moments, Webb makes it feel like this world, this New York could really happen.
The story is familiar to anyone who knows the character. Peter Parker, nerdy outcast, gets bitten by a spider, gets powers, loses his uncle and becomes a hero. What this film does different is what separates it from previous iterations. Peter (played spectacularly by Andrew Garfield) is awkward and nerdy, but with a chip on his shoulder due to being left by his parents. He’s got a lot of issues, and it’s believable. While it’s clear he’s got a major thing for Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), it’s just one facet of the things he’s going through. When he finds clues to what his dad was up to, it leads him to the ominous OSCORP and Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s old friend and colleague. After getting the aforementioned spider bite (I won’t spoil why there’s a spider like this, but it is a brilliant twist on the mythos), Peter’s attitude becomes more… well, both cocky and jerky. When his Uncle Ben (played brilliantly by Martin Sheen) does die, this Peter doesn’t become a superhero. He becomes an angry young man desperate for someone to take it out on. This development from Peter the kid looking for someone to hurt to Spider-Man the hero is great, and really drives home that moment when he realizes what his uncle was trying to tell him.
I cannot get over what a great film this was. When Spidey and the Lizard fight, Spidey fights like how I always imagined he would as a child, using all his abilities while never shutting up. When you see the development of his costume, it makes sense why he chooses how it turns out. When the characters interact, it’s just so believable, whether it’s that stern but loving attempt at being a good parent that Uncle Ben does, or the concern of Aunt May (played by a well-chosen Sally Fields), it clicks. Hell, even as CG as he is, the Lizard shows a great difference between himself and Connors, bringing all the dark aspects of his human counterpart to the surface and coming off as truly menacing.
You’re waiting for complaints, aren’t you? Well, there are some, but they’re minor. Mostly about certain choices (how did so many exotic reptiles end up in the New York sewer, why play random piano notes during a suspenseful scene, that sort of thing), but my most major one is Irrfan Khan’s character Dr. Rajit Ratha. Ratha appears a few times to threaten Connors and say some truly chilling lines, as well as hint about the unseen Norman Osborn (clever choice there, building that Osborn is in this franchise but holding him back), but then he just disappears from the film half-way through. What happened to this guy?
That said, The Amazing Spider-Man lives up to its title, and gives me a little chill thinking about the possibilities for a sequel. While it may not have the spectacle of The Avengers, it’s a great take on the origins of Spidey, and sets the stage for a bold new saga.
|Great casting and a more grounded story makes this a great start to a new saga of Spider-Man.||What happened to Irrfan Khan?|