Everyone’s friendly neighborhood Spiderman is back, but this time with a new story and new set of characters.
Five years ago we were given “Spiderman 3” which looked to bring a more intriguing darker side to director Sam Raimi’s “Spiderman” trilogy, but instead turned out to be a thoughtless sequel with a disappointing storyline and horrible casting of traditional comedy actor, Topher Grace (“Take Me Home Tonight”) to play Venom, one of Marvel’s most dark and menacing villains. Despite the disappointment “Spiderman 3” brought to fans it still did well at the box office and there were talks for a fourth installment. For unknown reasons, negotiations between Raimi and Sony feel through and along with any hopes of that series continuing once ‘Spiddy’ himself, Toby Maguire backed out as well.
With Raimi and Maguire officially off the project Sony still wanted to move forward and decided to reboot the “Spiderman” series all together. This was met with high criticism by many that either felt it was too soon to reboot the series and here was no replacing Maguire’s Spiderman. Even with the criticism some believed that there was still hope for Spiderman and Sony push forward by giving him a fresh start.
Although concern started to grow with fans more ounce Sony announced their replacement choices. They intrusted “rookie” movie director Marc Webb, who had only been known for directing music videos, a few television shows and his one movie and the low budget romantic-comedy “(500) Days of Summer,” with the $200 million budget flick. There was a lot of faith put in Webb on giving Spiderman a proper story and putting all the pieces together in order to do so. But even with all the pressure on him, Webb proved his talent on not only creating a terrific movie, but casting the perfect people for each role.
But the biggest question for fans was who the new Spiderman would be. Many fell in love with Maguire’s portrayal of the web swinging hero. To fill the shoes of Maguire, it was expected that an “A lister” actor would need to be tabbed for the role, but Webb did not buckle under the pressure and picked another slightly unknown name to helm the responsibility of Marvel’s flagship character. This being Andrew Garfield, who a the time was just coming off the success of “The Social Network” and his Golden Globe nomination for this role in it. And Garfield does not disappoint making the character his own, with the potential for the argument that he gave a better performance as Spiderman than Maguire. (Although in all fairness he did have three prior movies to study from.)
Along with Garfield, Emma Stone (“The Help”) gives one of her best performances as Garfield’s love interest, Gwen Stacy. Stone and Garfield’s on screen chemistry out match that of Maguire and Kirsten Dunst’s (“Melancholia”) in the first three “Spiderman” movies. And with the addition of Stacy in this movie leads to another brilliant thing Webb did, which is staying more true to the original Spiderman comic story lines. In the first “Spiderman” installments Dunst played the role of Mary Jane Watson, who is one of the more well known ‘Spiddy’ love interest, but comic fans know Gwen Stacy actually was the first. Continuing with the comic theme, Peter Parker now builds his “web shooters” himself from technology developed at OSCORP and this time around Captain Stacy is reluctantly given a bigger role played by Dennis Leary (TV’s “Rescue Me”).
Rhys Ifans (“The Five-Year Engagement”) as Dr. Curt Connors, Sally Field (TV’s Brother & Sisters”) as Aunt May and Martin Sheen (“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”) as Uncle Ben helped to complete the circle that help to make “The Amazing Spiderman” the fresh new start Sony was looking for.
The new story has Parker being abandoned by his parents to live with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben for an unknown reason dealing with the work his father was involved in at OSCORP. Still dealing with the fact that his parents left him with no explanation, Parker lives his life as the shy high school student that tends to get bullied. That is until he finds a a brief case his father left behind and discovering secret information inside, including the man his father had been working with, Dr. Curt Connors. As Parker searches for Connors at OSCORP he finds himself in a secret area of the facility where radioactive spiders are held, eventually leading to one falling on him and bitting him. We are then brought through the stages of Parker learning his powers and becoming Spiderman, but in a way that varies enough from the first movie, yet still feels like a whole new story.
From there Parker tracks down Connors, a one armed scientists working at OSCORP. Connors is working on a project that he had been working on with Parker’s father that would be able to heal and regenerate any part of the human body. He had never perfected it, but now with Parker’s help is able to. So he thought. With pressure to run a test on a human subjects, Connors test the formula on himself, eventually turning him into the power driven villain, the Lizard. With the Lizard being triple the size as Spiderman, just as powerful, if not more and virtually unstoppable, Parker must push his new powers to the limit in order to stop Connors from creating a biological attack on New York City.
Whether it is the chemistry between Parker and Stacy or the exciting action scenes between the Lizard and Spiderman, “The Amazing Spiderman” brings everything to the table that is needed for a successful reboot of a series. Webb does a good job of creating a story that will satisfy both comic and non-comic fans alike. There is still a gap in the story of what Parker’s father’s work had to do with anything and why his parent’s had to abandon him, but Sony and Webb clearly setup the movie up with the intention of sequels in the near future.
Even with all of the criticism and doubt on how the movie would turn out, “The Amazing Spiderman” made its mark by not only exceeding expectations at the box office, but by making for an entirely better “Spiderman” franchise than the original.
-Published in The Oswegonian