It’s been a whole ten years since the young and funny Tobey Maguire graced us with his presence in Sam ‘Spiderman’ Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy. The movie was fun, funny, featured a blonde as a red head and gave us one interpretation of how the geeky misfit Peter Parker became the superhero Spiderman.
It’s been ten years since this interpretation and now the brilliant Marc Webb [director of the AMAZING 500 Days of Summer] has jumped in the seat and given us The Amazing Spiderman.
When first hearing that Marc Webb was jumping on the superhero band wagon, I was bit reserved, as it seems that the franchise picked another alternative director and made them a bit Hollywood. This in turn meant an iffy Spiderman trilogy from Sam Raimi and 17 years between Army of Darkness and Drag me to Hell, true Raimi films.
It also seemed that between the Avengers Assembled and Dark Knight Rises, both films that people KNEW would break all box office records, with Nolan and Joss Whedon going to head to head; it was important that this movie stood out on its own as a successful reboot and movie, as it is essentially being dwarfed.
Though Raimi’s first Spiderman was brilliant and second Spiderman good, it seems the 10 years between the franchises has left us with an amazing and new Spiderman.
Darkness and realism has been cast over the superhero genre since Nolan’s Batman trilogy and the effort to make these comics, not seem like comics, but things that can happen in the real world, put an instant strain on The Amazing Spiderman. We want to see how Tony Stark becomes Iron Man and all the plausibility behind it. We want to escape in to a movie, but it seems that escaping isn’t enough; we are so effected and aware of the world around us, that the best form of escapism is when the real world is used. We want our dull worlds, buildings and streets to be part of something amazing, and this is done with the superhero genre.
The Amazing Spiderman did just this! The darkened element of a lonely teen coming and going, only being able to handle the world through his camera, makes for an effective Spiderman. The dark element is also helped by the start scene when we see Peter Parker as a young child being hurled into his aunt and uncles arms by his loving parents. We see a lot more of Mr and Mrs Parker, get a better idea about what they did and why they had to leave, which was missed out of the first Spiderman. To do this means there is a whole new line of story that can and was used. To use the disappearance of Mr and Mrs Parker means that we are introduced to Dr Curt Connors and the perky Gwen Stacy.
Peter is obviously conflicted because he remembers so much of the night that he was abandoned. He never heard from his parents or about them, so there is a hope that they are alive. However this hope is also daunting, as this gives Peter something to hold on to that might never become true.
Andrew Garfield as Spiderman was an amazing choice. Andrew Garfield is an amazing new actor, showing his talents in Never Let Me Go, Boy A and most famously Social Network. He plays the usual uncomfortable, geeky solitude type, so playing the part of Peter Parker should be easy. But the transition from Parker to Spiderman was also something that he conquered in. Spiderman became a cocky show off, as any teen would when getting super powers, but his motives for justice, as pointed out by Mr Stacy were childlike. Yes, Spiderman was catching criminals, but all of the same description and all to find the man that killed his uncle! This was vengeance rather than justice, as someone’s first agenda is to harm those that have hurt those closest to you. It’s a two sided deal though, without the death of Uncle Ben, Peter would not have a sense of standing up for the little man, he may through superhero stereotype, but he could have easily become a bank robber, it was always essential to have Uncle Ben’s death.
Like Raimis Spiderman, this one left that story line aside and will probably be picked up in later movies.
It seems that the first half of the movie was something that should have been paid attention to more, as this was the set up for becoming Spiderman; the ending was somewhat predictable if you’ve watched enough superhero movies. The set up to Spiderman and seeing how Peter Parker evolves in to the hero that he’s supposed to be is interesting.
With Parker having an uncanny appetite after a brilliant slow motion skating scene, in which he first takes charge of his powers, really gets in to the mind of the character. Parker is alone and enjoys progressing and having fun with skating, something considering stupid and extreme. This mini exercise of skateboarding transcends in to him becoming Spiderman, as the capacity and thirst to be dangerous and figure this stuff out on your own is key.
This sets him up for being Spiderman as well, and when he eventually gets over the spandex, we see how he grows. The skating scene was somewhat romantic of a teen discovering themselves and their abilities on their own. We have the lovely Gwen Stacy helping Peter and Spiderman. It seems in these movies that it’s the males’ job to figure out their talents, then the females’ job to really make them push their abilities and be all they can be! Gwen Stacy was more helpful than Mary Jane; she was less, damsel in distress, which shows the sign of the times. Though her life was obviously in danger, it was somewhat less emotional. In the original Spiderman, keeping Mary Jane safe is something that enhanced and gave Parker his powers, in this movie it’s a combination of brains and ability.
Though its somewhat annoying that the script writers made Parker a genius sometimes and not other times, to try and encapsulate so much personality in to one character, even two characters is hard.
Peter just happened to build web slinging gadgets for his wrist, and no one has been able to achieve that in the world but him. It seems that his intelligence is somewhat here and there. He knew that animal genetics is what Dr Curt Connors was researching, and how to build web slingers, but sometimes his general personality is so blah.
This has nothing to do with the awkward scene between him and Gwen, which funnily enough, was brilliant! Geeky kid and blonde girl of his dreams, it’s supposed to be long and awkward and how do you ask someone out on a date now anyway? Do people go out on dates?!
Overall the pointing out of spandex, the four play with the villians and the lovely little scene when Spiderman falls in to the wrestling ring, reminiscent of the first Spiderman, and the idea to make a mask of red tights and fishnets, all played in well to Parker becoming Spiderman.
His relationship with Dr Connors was something we expected as well. Dr Connors was close to the mind of Mr Parker, so naturally Peter wanted to find a father figure in him, as he cannot find his father. The physical vulnerability of Dr Connors, makes us have sympathy for him, his research valid and the way becomes a ‘bad guy’ interesting.
The best scene between these two has to be the sewer scene, when Parker was swimming manically through the system as the huge unstoppable force came after him, with Parker narrowly escaping. The unstoppable force is something that is a theme this year. We have The Lizard, Bane, Lokis army. It seems in pervious movies that statue of hero and villain was matched, but now there needs to be an unstoppable force that looks like one, because beating someone physically is not enough, it takes brains now.
This is where we have the interesting dynamic with Gwen Stacy comes in.
Though Mary Jane is one that always sticks in our heads as Peter Parkers love, in the comics Gwen Stacy appears before Mary Jane, being his ideal, sweet intellectual girl. She is an A student, does many extra-curricular activities and is the key to Peter Parkers spiders.
To use Gwen Stacy means a totally different dynamic; with Gwen Stacy we have the introduction of Dr Curt Connors, the relevance of Peter’s parents, the access to the spider, and an overall more scientific view on Spiderman.
Mary Jane was a girl that Peter could never have, but Gwen introduces a nicer girl, whom is friends with everyone and with their personalities being so similar, it’s acceptable that they would end up together. Raimi used Mary Jane as she’s the typical love figure, and used them in the realms of high school, as high school is an a typical environment for discovering one’s self and coming across miniature drama that then transcends in to the bigger world.
However Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy is a different story. She has the BIG fairy tale eyes, the bleach blonde hair, especially fun as she’s a natural red head, the sweet smile and her dress shows a modest, but intellectual girl. She’s not dorky and tucked away, she’s confident and clever, defiantly something to be modelled and appreciated. But it seems that the character in the movie could be played by anyone. Any up and coming actress could have played the role of the sweet Gwen Stacy. Emma Stone was believable but the idea of her as a dyed blonde, Emma Stone herself and partnered with Andrew Garfield seemed like good reasons for her to get the part; not so much the acting.
Overall the movie is a definite 3/5.
It is amazing and the first half is so beautiful and remarkable, Marc Webb and the writers really know how to get inside a growing teens head. Probably because the writers consist of James Vanderbilt, Alvin, Sargent and Steve Kloves, combined have written for the original Spiderman movies, Zodiac and all the Harry Potter movies, growing up and coming of age is something these boys know how to write for.
Avengers Assembled was a definite 4.5/5, but this is still a must see, even for the first half and the acting, a definite win!