Let’s be honest here, everyone was really apprehensive about this movie. Sam Rami’s truly awesome 2002 ‘Spider-Man’ changed everything for the best. We wouldn’t have the serious class of hero movies coming of age today without his direct vision and input. But as in a great deal of superhero movies, evolution is everything, and Marc Webb’s ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is a higher state of being, and a brilliant addition on this the 50th anniversary of Spidey’s birth.
The thing is, it’s not special effects, CGI smoke and mirrors that makes this better than all the previous Spidey incarnations, but the simple basic raw emotional humanity of the actors/characters involved. And in that context, Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, is the greatest Parker there has ever been.
A bit like the various generations who have their 007 (James Bond), their Doctor (Doctor Who), or even their Hulk, my Spidey senses were activated by Nicholas Hammond in the ‘77-’79 TV series ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ and subsequent spin off movies. After seeing Hammond in action, I went home and climbed every lamppost I could (there is even an obviously fake flat wall crawling homage moment early in the movie), thankfully without injury. After seeing the rebooted 2012 ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, just like Garfield, I wanted to do super hero Parkour over the sky scrapers of New York city. That would lead to slight injury on my part though.
Supporting Andrew is simply an outstanding cast. Martin Sheen is the Uncle Ben guiding force every kid should have. Sally Field the quite solid foundation of Aunt May that keeps us strong through anything, and the beautiful Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), the girl we want to be great/true for.
These are people we genuinely empathise with, and thankfully the time is given to develop our affections for them, as when the Lizard hits the fan, we care deeply about them. Also, despite Peter’s super Spidey strengths and being able to battle a giant monster, he is a bumbling weakling when tackling Gwen for a date. Their relationship is one of the best things in the movie, making us all 14 again, reduced to idiots around someone we’re attracted too.
Even Dr Curt Connors played by the always amazing Rhys Ifans, is full of the human pains and loss we all recognise and relate to. I still have some reservations about some moments with the CGI Lizard, it’s massively better rendered than I expected, but to his credit, Rhys is far more sinister and threatening when in his human form.
Part of the ‘reboot’ is the slight changing of the background story. For the first time we meet Peter’s parents, in a magical dream like set up at the beginning (it makes a subsequent cellar discovery all the more painful), again adding more humanity to the mix. The movie score by James Horner, is just brilliant. The various other changes/differences to Rami’s Spider-Man are all for the better. We get to see how each stage of Spider-Man evolves, and it makes sense. From the moment Peter is bitten, spider senses activated, it’s an absolute joy to watch him learn/flounder through his new abilities, from youthful bravado to harnessing his massive intellect/strength for good.
It’s a very funny movie too, for the better, not overtly slapstick, but lines like Captain Stacy’s (the wickedly stern Dennis Leary) ‘Do I look like the Mayor of Tokyo?’ and ‘38 of New York’s finest versus one guy in a unitard’ helped the story belt along full of really great script moments.
The modern age we live in for some reason dictates a super saturated exposure to any forthcoming movie release. So often the best moments really are just what’s in the trailer, not in this case. There’s a timeless simplicity to this movie, and there’s are a huge amount of rewards in it. But I don’t want to tell you what they are, it’s all part of the discovery adventure you should go on too.
Even hints of who Spider-Man will be facing in the next movie (there will definitely be a next movie) are peppered throughout the film, and the now traditional after-end-credits short follow up clip.
As mentioned previously, I was apprehensive about the CGI Lizard, and it doesn’t always work. There’s also an overtly over the top flag waving patriotic moment that won’t sit well with a non American audience, but Spider-Man always was New York’s number one hero. Having said that, the fight sequences are stunning, the 3D is some of the best I’ve ever seen, particularly when we go slinging around the city viewed trough Spidey’s eyes. Added into it’s DNA a healthy amount of humanity, and you’ve simply an outstandingly wonderful movie experience.
Even the Stan Lee cameo is worth price of admission alone, it’s his best ever.
‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is now my favourite Spidey movie of all time, which is a wonderful thing to be able to write, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. Hopefully it’s not a CGI foe he’s up against next. In that regard I’ll give Andrew Garfield 10/10…..and the movie itself….
The Amazing Spider-Man is released on July 3rd by Sony Pictures.