Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Movie with Abe: The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man
Directed by Marc Webb
Released July 3, 2012

Superheroes will never go out of style. In fact, they’re so popular that a number of franchises, especially those involving Marvel characters, are being rebooted within a decade of the original franchise being begun. It happened last year with X-Men, and now Peter Parker is back for another round with British actor Andrew Garfield in the lead role, and Mary Jane Watson, J.J. Jameson, and the Green Goblin swapped out for the Lizard and Gwen Stacy. It’s as fitting an entry as any, and while it doesn’t present much in the way of a startlingly new perspective, a fresh look doesn’t hurt.

This film falls neatly into the category of family-friendly Marvel films that aren’t laden with suggestive remarks and innuendos, portraying its heroes as all-American and flawed but ultimately good. Spider-Man has always been a classic character, and here he plays an active part in his own origin story, embracing his newfound abilities in ways that seem immediately beneficial to him but also help to better society. Though Parker rips off his mask on numerous occasions and even walks around without it on for extended periods of time, he still has the same persona: a masked avenger helping to keep the city safe.

Garfield, who broke out in British films “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” and “Red Riding: 1974,” and has made just “Never Let Me Go” and “The Social Network” since, makes another smart and selective role choice with Parker. Comparison to Tobey Maguire is inevitable since he played the part so recently, and Garfield is subtler and more unsuspecting than Maguire, capable of blending into the shadows but also of reveling in his ability to finally take charge of his life and be in control for once. He has excellent and amusing chemistry with the multi-talented Emma Stone, who portrays Stacy as charming, intelligent, and kind.

The supporting cast is well-stacked as well, most notably Denis Leary in a fun role as the hard-headed Captain Stacy who butts heads with his daughter’s boyfriend on more than one occasion. Martin Sheen and Sally Field are appropriately endearing figures to play Uncle Ben and Aunt May, and Rhys Ifans make for a compellingly three-dimensional Dr. Curt Connors, better known as the Lizard. This story weaves together aspects of the original comic book plot to create a new, slightly altered universe that differs substantially from that of the three films that precede this one. It’s appropriately light in tone, but tells a generally serious and invigorating story. Though no one is clamoring for a sequel, this new setup works well and is perfectly suited to become a franchise.


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