MOVIE REVIEW by: Jenny Aluning
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2D (PG-13)
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field
When it was first announced way back in 2010 that a new Spiderman was on its way and that it wasn’t a sequel but more a reboot, many asked, what for? To add to the confusion, original director Sam Raimi and original, Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire weren’t going to be involved. So, was it worth it? Did this new Spider-Man movie erase doubts about the franchise’s longevity? Yes and No.
The fundamentals are the same. Peter Parker, a science genius, raised by his aunt and uncle after the death of his parents, gets bitten by a genetically enhanced spider, then finds that there’s a great big baddie that he needs to use his newfound abilities against. Oh, and in between all of that, he has to get his dream girl and deal with the death of Uncle Ben.
Ok, let’s get the so-so stuff out of the way first. Yes, this film is also made for 3D. I watched it in 2D myself and I’m glad I did. There are sequences in the movie seen from Spider-Man’s point of view which, quite frankly if I had seen in 3D would have made me queasy. It was clear though that director, Marc Webb (a newbie to blockbuster flicks) wanted to employ as much realism as possible in Spider-Man’s movement, hence the incredible amount of parkour/free-running evident in the movie. The big action set-pieces rang of simpler times to me. They weren’t jaw-dropping or groundbreaking , nor were they trying to be. This fourth Spider-Man movie preferred the characters to deliver the ‘punches’ – not the action, not the CG. And this is where the movie grabbed me.
This is where Webb showed his style – expertly weaving character development, emotional punch and humour into the science-based story. The central relationship between Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is a shining example of this. Andrew and Emma perfectly capture that sweet awkwardness of two teenagers falling for each other – witness their funny hallway conversation where they try to set up a date without saying they each want to go on a date! Their chemistry is fantastic and their scenes together are wonderful. Each, when in their own character, is brilliant. Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy, is beauty, brains and quick wit. Utterly charming, she is the girl every high school boy dreams of, while Andrew achieves an impressive turn as Spider-Man.
Unlike Batman (tortured, angst-ridden, billionaire) and Superman (saint-like, alien), Spider-Man is more the everyday man’s superhero. He was a normal (okay, genius normal) high school kid until he was bitten by a spider. Hence, one can imagine that his reactions to his new powers would mirror our own. Shock, paranoia and when the truth sets in, giddiness over our new abilities. All of this was expertly portrayed by Garfield. He impressively juggled high school awkwardness, teenage arrogance (complete with smart ass comments), tortured son/nephew and reluctant hero with leading-man confidence. He has turned out to be the perfect actor to don the Spider-Man suit.
Marc Webb takes his character development to his villain too. This time it’s Dr Curtis Connors/The Lizard played by Rhys Ifans. An emotionally and physically damaged man, Ifans’ villain at first tries to hold on to his principles (refusing to experiment on wounded war veterans). But when threatened to be cut off from the science that could heal him, that noble indignation was no match and he experiments on himself with disastrous consequences.
An impressive supporting cast made up of Martin Sheen, Sally Field and Dennis Leary also do their bit to make this Spider-Man movie more about the heart, than the action. I’ve loved Martin Sheen since ‘The West Wing’ and his closing words in the film had me in tears. Sally Field was both loving and strong as Aunt May. Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy (Gwen’s father) was noble, gruff and humorous (in a dry way) and fiercely protective of his family – never was this more evident than the heartrending promise he asked of Peter.
There is hope for the Spider-Man franchise yet. Just recently, it has been confirmed for a trilogy and so, only time will tell whether or not it will continue to impress fans and critics alike.
Photo source: ComingSoon