An old friend from my childhood returned to the screen this month and he is back better than ever. In The Amazing Spiderman, Marvel reboots its most successful superhero character with Andrew Garfield in the title role. The result is a movie that has much of the feel of the original comic in both its tone and Garfield's portrayal of Spidey. Spiderman was my favorite comic as a child, so I'm always game for another round of webslinging.
There are a few things we should get out of the way right from the start. The issue of whether Marvel should have done a full reboot of the franchise a mere decade after the original movie trilogy is up for debate. I think we could have done without a full rework of the origin story, especially since they decided to take some liberties with the webslinger's origin. But I would also argue that the origin story is done well and gives us some of Garfield's best scenes. His hallway encounter with Gwen Stacy (perfectly portrayed by Emma Stone) was a marvel of teen awkwardness by both actors.
Purists will take fault with some of the ways in which the origin is reworked, but will also cheer at the return of mechanical web shooters! I also appreciated the way they amped up the Spidey attitude in this one. Garfield's Webhead is that smart-mouthed teenage superhero that I loved from the comics. The one-liners are delivered with just the right amount of attitude. Another feature of the comics was that Spiderman generally got beat up pretty good by his opponents before eventually defeating them. Peter spends much of the second half of the movie hiding one form of injury or another from Aunt May.
No superhero movie is complete without a good villain and Rhys Ifan (you may remember him as Xenophilius Lovegood from Harry Potter) gives a great performance as Curt Conners aka The Lizard (who first appeared in The Amazing Spiderman issue 6). Ifan does a nice job of giving us the Jekyl & Hyde nature of Curt Conners. Definitely a man with something to hide, he is equally believable as the tortured scientist and the vicious monster.
The rest of the supporting cast are also excellent. Martin Sheen and Sally Field are excellent as Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Dennis Leary gives us a great George Stacy and deftly show us both the tough cop and embarrassed father (when his daughter tries to explain her monthly discomfort) equally as well.
Finally, the web slinging and swinging was superb in this movie. It just felt right and was a treat to watch. The fight scenes were well choreographed and visually stunning and entertaining. Overall this is an excellent restart for the Spiderman franchise and bodes well for the future.
Cookie Jar: There is a brief credit cookie about midway through the credits (but nothing more at the end of them).
I'm a little disappointed that they seem to be setting things up for a return to The Green Goblin story line. That ground was covered pretty well in the first go around and there are so many great villains (The Vulture, Doctor Doom, Electro and Kraven just to name a few of the early foes). On the other hand, you can hardly do the Gwen Stacy storyline without Green Goblin. Are we marching towards the most controversial scene in Spidey history?
Super Spoiler Alert (if you don't know Gwen's history read no further):
Gwen Stacy's death in The Amazing Spiderman #121 is considered to be one of the most important events in comic book history. It is considered to mark the end of the Silver Age of Comics.It also has a significant impact on the subsequent history of Spiderman because of the unanswered question of what caused her death. It will be very interesting if they decide to go down this route and bring this key moment to the screen.
...with great power there must also come -- great responsibility - Some may trouble over the absence of this line from the movie and especially from the words of Uncle Ben. In reality, this was never a line from Uncle Ben in the original story. While it is true that later issues of Spiderman retroactively put these words into the mouth of Ben Parker in flashbacks, originally these were the words of the narrator.
Official website for The Amazing Spiderman