Between The Avengers proving to be the crown jewel in Marvel’s movie crown – and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises selling out opening weekend screenings like there’s no tomorrow, one has to wonder: can The Amazing Spider-Man possibly stand tall alongside its superhero movie brethren?
Sony’s reboot of the Spider-Man franchise has irked many a person since its inception. Personally, I’ve been interested in a Spider-Man movie reboot from the very beginning. Just about everything I’ve read and seen from the film since then has left me eagerly-anticipating The Amazing Spider-Man (the same goes for a good chunk of the Screen Rant team).
And so it is that, today, I’d like to share 5 reasons why I’m quite psyched to see The Amazing Spider-Man.
No matter what new material Amazing Spider-Man brings to the table, there are certain elements from director Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie (Peter Parker getting bitten, Uncle Ben’s demise, etc.) that have to be recycled here – unless Sony really wants to divide the fanbase, more than TASM‘s rumored altered origin storyline already has.
TASM incorporates plot elements from the “Ultimate Spider-Man” comic book continuity – including, the backstory about Pete’s biological parents – and constricts the timeline to Spidey’s high school years, rather than cover his high school experience and starting out in the real world (a la Raimi’s film).
The final result looks to be a Spider-Man flick that deeply explores how a teen – already wrought with identity issues and the ordinary pangs of adolescence, would really handle the responsibility of being a superhero (something I feel we have not seen before).
Raimi’s Spider-Man and TASM feature the same villain archetype: a scientist whose obsession – controlling his company for Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) in Spider-Man, regrowing his arm for Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) in TASM – inspires him to (impulsively) serve as a human petri dish, giving rise to a dangerous Jekyll/Hyde monster.
Ifans as Dr. Connors also serves as a link for Pete to his past – and, becomes a mentor/friend to our young hero. Dafoe as Osborn did not have such a genuine bond with Pete in Spider-Man (his claims to the contrary) – and thus, his eventual death just packed less of an emotional punch (for me, anyway).
Moreover, Ifans’ performance in TASM appears to fall less on the cartoony side – and more truly threatening – and easier to identify with (in opposition to Dafoe’s enjoyable, but very over-the-top performance). As for the villain’s mutated appearance: personally, I dig the full-blown Lizard’s look.
Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb attested during the film’s 3D preview screening that shooting with notoriously bulky 3D cameras was no picnic. However, the ends more than justify the means, judging by the (basically) universal praise the 3D set pieces and action scenes in TASM have earned, to date.
Webb and his Oscar-nominated director of photography John Schwartzman (The Rock, Seabiscuit) were smart to take a “you are there” approach to filming the action in TASM. The results look great, varying from immersive “Spidey-vision” sequences to the tracking shots of Spidey web-slinging (like a virtual roller coaster ride) – and that trailer “money shot” from Spidey’s climactic tower-top battle with The Lizard.
Lastly, as someone who has seen TASM footage in the 3D IMAX format, I feel it’s safe to say: this is one movie that demands to be seen on the largest screen available.
When Andrew Garfield won the part of Peter Parker in TASM, it was immediately apparent that his taller, lankier build makes him a better physical fit for the character than his predecessor, Tobey Maguire. As his turns in films like Boy A, Never Let Me Go – and especially The Social Network have demonstrated: Garfield possesses serious acting chops too.
Early TASM footage suggests Garfield will make Peter Parker feel like a real person, living in modern times. The same can be said for fellow rising star Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy – along with the rest of the cast, including decorated character actors Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field and Denis Leary.
Raimi’s Spider-Man boasts great acting talent (Willem Dafoe, Cliff Robertson, J.K. Simmons), but the film’s characters come off more as memorable, but romanticized, stereotypes – especially, Kirsten Dunst stuck playing a Mary Jane Watson who’s as generic a damsel-in-distress as they come (in my opinion, of course).
Early marketing for TASM left several people with the (mistaken) impression that the film will be a somber and gloomy superhero title, on par with The Dark Knight. While TASM certainly offers a grittier take on Spidey than previous movies, it also stands apart from Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
As evidenced by pre-release clips, such as Peter’s encounter with a stern doorman – and Spidey cracking goofy one-liners while evading the police – there’s a healthy amount of everyday humor in the Spider-Man reboot. However, the comedy in TASM arises naturally, without feeling too forced (or offering a jarring contrast to the drama).
That’s all to say: as someone who felt the previous Spider-Man movies were tonally equivalent to live-action Saturday morning cartoons from the early 1990s (not always, per se, a bad thing), I’m enticed by the prospect that TASM will examine a superhero’s life, in a setting updated for the 21st century.
To clarify: while I’ve made a few critical references to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man throughout this article, by no means do I hate that film. It has its fair share of engaging dramatic moments, good characters and enjoyable action. Overall, I think of it as a fun blockbuster, full of (enjoyably) cheesy superhero movie melodrama and action.
Amazing Spider-Man, by comparison, just has a lot of what I look for in my superhero movies nowadays: more realism, in terms of how the story unfolds and the various characters’ motivation, coupled with slick action scenes that don’t excessively rely on CGI. Combine that with little touches (like the artificial web-shooters) that comic book fans can appreciate, and I’m left genuinely enthused to see this film when it hits U.S. theaters on July 3rd.
So, how about it: are you ready to join me (or already are) aboard the Amazing Spider-Man bandwagon? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section.