In 2005, Christopher Nolan took on an ambitious project to reboot the Batman franchise with a darker, edgier take to the classic hero. He gave depth into Bruce Wayne’s character that no other film had offered before. He showed the ups, the downs, and the REAL hero’s journey, and his hard work paid off, making Batman one of the most popular heroes of this generation. This is exactly what Mark Webb has done with Spider-Man. He’s turned back the clock and started an entirely new concept to one of America’s favorite heroes.
It’s difficult to think that Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” from 2002 is now the old, outdated version, but since Raimi walked away from the project of making a “Spider-Man 4” after a dispute over the film’s villain (which Raimi ironically wanted to be The Lizard, but was turned down,) that’s exactly what Sony wants us to think. This film introduces an entirely new cast, many new characters, and a deeper story into the genesis of one of the most popular super heroes of all time. Since the Spider-Man film franchise was already well off the ground, rebooting it this early seemed, to most, somewhat ridiculous, but now that it’s finally out in the open, it has become abundantly clear that this film not only meets, but surpasses its predecessors.
Just as Christopher Nolan did with “Batman Begins,” Mark Webb has given Spider-Man an edgier, more mysterious back story, and has given us a film that brings us deeper into Spider-Man’s beginnings. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield, The Social Network,) after being left by his parents to live with his aunt and uncle, finds himself living a somewhat normal, however lonely, typical high school life. After the discovery of his father’s suitcase, however, he begins to ask the questions that have been plaguing him ever since he was a small boy, what happened to his parents? These questions take him on a journey that eventually leads him to one of his father’s old partners, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans, Anonymous.) While at the lab of Dr. Connors, Peter is bitten by a genetically altered spider, which begins his transformation into the ever popular Spider-Man.
Peter is soon forced to juggle his life between himself and Spider-Man, his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, Zombieland,) and the threat of Dr. Connors’s alter-ego, the Lizard, as he rampages through town. Only Spider-Man can stop The Lizard, but only if the police don’t arrest the vigilante first.
Many fans of the classic Spider-Man story will be familiar with the new elements that were not in Raimi’s original version, such as the webbing mechanism Peter wears on his wrists that allows him to shoot the strands of web and swing around the city. Originally, Spider-Man did not have the web-shooting ability, and had to wear the devices in order to do so. Another new addition is that of Stone’s character, Gwen Stacy, who was Peter’s love interest before Mary Jane. Although Stacy’s character isn’t exactly in sync with the character from the comics, she is still an interesting and valuable choice to the franchise.
The chemistry between Ifans, Garfield, and Stone were absolutely superb, particularly between Garfield and Stone. I felt like I was in high school again, awkwardly attempting to ask my crush out and having her awkwardly accept. The tension that builds between the characters of Dr. Connors, Peter, and Gwen is almost malleable, and that can only be the result of a fantastic cast. Very few movies have real chemistry like that between the actors and actresses of The Amazing Spider-Man, the great direction from Webb made it feel even more real.
So, were these changes a success? Yes, yes they were. Garfield’s Spider-Man is not only more clever, but wittier, and more likable than Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. Don’t get me wrong, the original Spider-Man was a fantastic movie, but The Amazing Spider-Man is even better. It takes you on an emotional roller-coaster as you witness Peter’s personal struggles with love, high school, tragedy, and much more. This film will make you laugh, cry, and have you on the edge of your seat from the beginning to end. If you haven’t seen it already, I highly suggest that you do so. You will not be disappointed. I sure wasn’t.
The Amazing Spider-Man is rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence (stylized action, creature violence, and a little blood.)