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“The Amazing Spider-Man” – Early Review (POSITIVE)

July 2, 2012

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! The title of the film speaks for itself, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is without at doubt the Spider-Man film fans of the wisecracking superhero deserved and it took the director of “(500) Days of Summer” to give it to us. Weird isn’t it? No. AMAZING!

I’ll admit it, a couple of years ago when I read that Sam Raimi’s pending fourth installment was dead & buried, and Sony decided to reboot the franchise, a-la-“Batman Begins” style, my anger was at an all time high. Then I heard Marc Webb was directing, still confused the hell out of me. I mean, “(500) Days of Summer” was a terrific film, but really? His sophomore film was going to be a major multi-billion dollar superhero franchise? Usually when first time filmmakers make a second film, the end up in the pit fall of the ‘sophomore slump’. It’s a rarity, but many film lovers out there are aware of this syndrome. Rest assured, that is NOT present here, for “The Amazing Spider-Man” is simply…amazing!

The story of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is taken back to his high school roots. The comics depicted him as a teenage kid, a high school kid, with problems like any other teenager, whose been given the greatest power, and bestowed with the greatest of responsibilities. However, this film takes a new turn, where the focus on Peter’s mother (Embeth Davidtz) & father (Campbell Scott) are the central mystery to this reignited franchise. What happened to his parents? What did his father do at OSCORP? What’s the connection between Pete’s Dad, his father’s friend/colleague Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), and the plans of genetic splicing?

Honestly, many of these questions are not answered in this film, it all ends with a cliffhanger of sorts, while also at the same time revealing the sequels next villain, which if you pay attention throughout the film, it’s quite obvious who the next villain will be. For some I can see this being frustrating, but from what the producers are saying, this is the first chapter to an intended trilogy. The new series essential focus is/will be the mystery behind Peter’s parents. Now of course in the comics, Pete’s parents were agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the super defense agency run by Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson). Sadly, with the Spidey franchise NOT contracted under Marvel Studios, and still with Sony Pictures, it’s unlikely the filmmakers will go in that route. But, after seeing this film, I’m dead set on seeing how this new franchise will blossom, and subsequently close.

Lets talk casting, I’ll just say this, ‘Uhhhh, Tobey WHO???’ That’s right folks, like how Robert Downy Jr. IS Iron Man, Chris Evans IS Captain America, our friendly neighborhood (of the UK) Andrew Garfield IS Spider-Man. The Spidey/Pete we get in this movie is so pitch perfect and adapted to the up most respect to the comics. It’s clear that this movies heavy influences come from the Ultimate’s, and I wasn’t sure how that would turn out, but I’ve got to say, having done Iron Man, Thor, Cap, and Hulk Ultimate style, it works just fine with Spider-Man. Andrew brings a certain rawness to the character of Peter, brooding at times, emotional, and then he springs right into the wise cracking mode perfectly. Spidey has always been a wiseguy of sorts, and Andrew captures that impeccably. Emma Stone, my lovely Emma, words cannot describe my affection for her. She takes the iconic (and original love interest) Gwen Stacy back to her roots.

The notable supporting players, Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, Sally Field as Aunt May, Dennis Leary as Captain Stacey, and Rhys Ifans as the Lethal Lizard were all fantastic. Ifans plays Connors a bit differently here by putting more emphasis on the mad scientist aspect, which is fine, but I wish we could see Connors other side, his wife, child, etc. Yes, Lizard is a rogue in a gallery of villains, but he’s a good guy at heart and it’s a shame he wasn’t portrayed that way, nonetheless he played the Lizard just right, and Lizard himself looked EPIC!

What I really want to give props to is the fact that this movie takes newer and better steps that the Raimi trilogy didn’t do or didn’t do enough of; the fact that stakes are raised in this film. Yes, Uncle Ben dies, but that sort of push the defined Spider-Man is taken farther here. He’s on a mission and it’s simply revenge, but like Batman, that revenge is turned into something else, and like [Christopher] Nolan’s “Batman Begins”, Spider-Man becomes a symbol of the people, and a symbol against evil. For Marvel to actually take that route is truly refreshing, from a Marvel stand point. The movie has a few things that are mildly bothersome, but it doesn’t negate the fact that this film works, and it is a Spider-Man that the fans deserved.

GRADE: A-

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