Wednesday, July 11, 2012

that spider-man really was amazing

I remember liking the Tobey Maguire Spiderman movie — the first one, not the others. Or actually, I liked Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, but I didn't care too much for Willem Dafoe's bad guy. Most of these live-action comic book movie villains usually bore me. Apart from the bajillions of dollars that The Avengers and their associated franchise movies are making, there didn't seem to really be a point to make another Spidey flick, and I didn't really think I'd go see it ... and then it got too hot for the beach and the pool and there was nothing else out there that I could justify dragging along the kid to see, so we went. And I'm glad we did. The Amazing Spider-Man was really fun.

Peter discovers his new powers while riding the subway
Dr. Connors experiments on himself with scaly results
Maybe Gwen should reconsider that internship at Dr. Connors's lab
Andrew Garfield not only made the role his own, but he created a likable character that would have worked in any film. Garfield's Peter Parker/Spider-Man may not be as comic-booky and quippy as Maguire's, but he still has a sense of humor. He has great chemistry with Emma Stone as love interest Gwen Stacy, too. The human element is really what makes the movie work. It's at the root of Stan Lee's original story and character and luckily it's still on display here. The villain, Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans, is not a typical movie villain. He's not inherently evil and bent on (yawn) world domination. He's got complicated motives for what he does and doesn't do — some of his reasons and backstory are not even revealed in this movie — cue the sequel! That's O.K., because iconic comic book hero or not, these are all characters and actors that we'd like to see again.

It's wonderful to see Sally Field and Martin Sheen on screen as Peter's loving aunt and uncle, who take him in as a young boy when his parents must go into hiding — another secret yet to be revealed, if you're not a comic book geek, and I'm not. Denis O'Leary shows up with his usual sassy, impatient-with-everyone-around-him delivery as Gwen's police chief dad, and then even his character gets to show some emotional depth. The only complaint about any of this that I could have, and it's a minor one, is that The Amazing Spider-Man's action sequences are the least interesting parts of the movie. Spidey is great when he's one-on-one, beating up bad guys and swinging through the city to rescue the innocent. But there are a bit too many scenes of Spiderman and The Lizard smashing into buildings, with metal and glass crashing and crunching. As in The Avengers, do we really need to see New York City buildings get demolished for the umpteenth time? I guess the studio has to justify the special effects budget somehow. But I quibble. Garfield and the rest of the cast make The Amazing Spider-Man a great way to escape the heat this summer.
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