I think we all know how cheap Hollywood can be, and starting July 2nd at midnight, we now have a whole new look at how true that might be. At just 2 months past the 10 year anniversary of the first big screen adaptation of Marvel’s Spider-man [IMDb], Sony has released a completely new version of the exact same story. Being 22 years old, I vividly remember the first take on the film, and it’s two sequels, and other than the final film, I had nothing against the series of movies. I even really liked the first and second ones. Even after seeing this new version I can’t fathom why the decision was made to have another go at this series in such an incredibly short amount of time after they already did it pretty successfully. Despite that question, I have come to the following conclusion:
This movie is damn good, and this series should be better than the first.
Since everyone knows the story of Spider-man, I won’t summarize it. The facts of the film follow the comics pretty closely, if I am not mistaken, and in a very different manner than the first series did. In this version, we learn more about Parker’s parents, Spider-man’s webs aren’t naturally created, and the infamous Mary Jane character has been left out altogether. We get a villain very similar to those in Spider-man 1 and 2 of the first series, a brilliant doctor who is in someway connected with Parker that uses his own project in a premature and selfish manner with dire consequences. Rhys Ifans plays the one-armed scientist determined to cross-bread animals with humans to eliminate physical deficiencies, and when he tries it on himself, the serum goes beyond his calculations and turns him into the Lizardman, a huge and stunningly capable lizard who tries to spread the serum to everyone in New York City.
So, it is still Spider-man and the villain is similar to those of the past. What makes this movie actually different? In two words: Andrew, Emma. Andrew Garfield is the new face behind the mask, and he is a much more hip and cool Peter Parker than Toby Macguire‘s, complete with skateboard and retro camera. With quirky, snappy little lines peppered into the battle scenes, this Parker is more exciting without sacrificing any depth or emotion. It really was the blowout performance of Garfield’s career, with other roles in The Social Network and Never Let Me Go and he was excellent. And opposite our hero is a strong woman, only this time it’s not the redhead. Emma Stone plays the role of Gwen Stacy, daughter of the New York Police chief, who is also a scientifically gifted student in Parker’s class. The chemistry between Stone and Garfield is awesome, with Stone stealing and carrying most every scene she is in. If The Help didn’t convince you that this girl is about to dominate Hollywood for a very long time, this movie will. The supporting cast all do a fine job with roles that they were cast well for. Martin Sheen as the wise uncle Ben, Sally Field for the loving aunt May, and Denis Leary as chief Stacy.
The one thing that really changed a lot during the 10 year span between the reboot of the series was the advancement in technology. The visuals and sounds in this film are top of the line, and you couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to put some big depths into the new and improved 3D technology that every studio around the world is using these days. There is no doubt that this film looks and sounds better than the first take, but that is not really a fair comparison to make. So, if you take away the visual and sound factors, which was better? The performances, plot, and presentation of the story all have to go to this new film. The story, the theme, and the characters all felt driven, more-so than those of the first film. When I was in the theater watching this film, I was excited for the action sequences, I was laughing and beaming during the quirky romantic interactions between the lead roles, and I was worried and scared for both Peter and Gwen when they were in peril. Honestly, I haven’t felt that while watching a movie in a long damn time. I actually stopped and thought to myself “Holy crap, this movie is f***ing captivating”. It is a great feeling to have, and it’s why we go to the movies in the first place.
4/4 – With awesome performances and chemistry from lead actors Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, The Amazing Spider-man outclasses the first take on the comic with a story, theme, and characters more driven and complete than the 2002 film.