Not Choice, Responsibility.
A Review by Ben Hunter
4½ Out of 5 Stars
July 3, 2012
“We all have secrets, the ones we keep, and the ones that are kept from us.” But it’s up to us how we choose to live our lives daily with the knowledge that we have. Life puts us through things we may not like on the journey, but we have the choice and the power to be the best of ourselves. It is the duty of every man who has the power to make a difference in another’s life, to take that as an obligation and an honor to make that difference. “If you can do good things for other people, you have a moral obligation to do those things. Not choice … responsibility!”
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) was faced with the tragedy of loosing his parents. Growing up not knowing for sure why your parents left and then they pass away is heart breaking. It makes one feel lost and not knowing his place in society. Inheriting his father’s brains, Peter discovers little secrets to piece together their mysterious disappearance, and one of the secrets links his father’s close colleague, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) to the case. As Peter tries to uncover the truth, he must learn what it means to do what is right when faced with adversity in life.
Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) flexes his action movie directorial muscles for the first time brilliantly here. People felt he may not have been the right choice due to his credits but boy does he pass the test with flying colors! I think that Webb’s romantic work really helps him with Spidey’s story believe it or not. Peter Parker is just a kid, a teenager with raging hormones that’s been given a gift. He’s trying to do what’s right with this gift by owning up and helping other with it while trying to have a halfway decent life as a high school science geek. He has a crush on a girl at school Gwen Stacy, the first role I feel 100% about with Emma Stone and feel she’s now off on the right path to becoming one of Hollywood’s top actresses. There’s a bully at school he tries to avoid. Throw in trying to get to the bottom of his parents mysterious disappearance, oh and not to mention a giant dinosaur like creature is attacking the city. So looking at this film from the view of a human taking on life’s obstacles, grieving his parents, just trying to muster up the courage to ask out the girl he likes, and taking a genuine interest in his science endeavors, is a great way to look at this and not just how you could make this a cool action flick. The Amazing Spider-Man is a wonderful tale of triumph, tragic and loss, love, and all wrapped up with cool action, but it doesn’t make that action the center of its focus. It’s clear the focus was properly placed.
Greatly due to the fact that the casting was superb! Give an award to the team that brilliantly put this movie together! Casting goes a long way, it’s what can make or break your film and Spidey makes it all way climbing to the top! Andrew Garfield was the PERFECT choice! Peter Parker was just a kid, Spider-Man was just a kid; a kid given a great responsibility and trying to make sense of all that while just being a kid. So some animators forget that and make Spidey out to be some body builder, muscle man under the suit. When they forget, he’s just a kid! Not here. Garfield’s physique completely resembles the true look of Spider-Man. A boy on the path to manhood, that’s been given a lot of strength, but isn’t Schwarzenegger with super powers like most superheroes are portrayed to be. Casting goes a long way! Simply because Garfield looks the part, his performance abilities double in effectiveness and delivery because HE LOOKS THE PART! I wish Hollywood remembered this when recreating and failing at bringing my all time idol, Marilyn Monroe, back to life.
It was a very believable take on the story, more based off the comic whereas Sam Raimi’s 2002 version was more based on what we the non-comic reading audience supposedly would like. I liked Raimi’s Spidey, but Webb’s definitely takes the cake! So things like a high school science wiz sewed together a tight spandex suit by himself in his room, and the end result is what we see on all the billboards, posters, and all throughout the movie, was a believable and aiding trait to the film. I liked the web shooters. It’s believable yet true to the comics, but the only factor in my opinion up for debate for Raimi’s Spider-Man to have a leg to stand on to have something over Webb’s Spider-Man.
I loved how the inclusion of his parents was added to this take of the story. Their actual screen time was minimal but their presence was maximum, all throughout the film. It’s good writing because this is what will drive the future sequels. I really want to see where they’ll take this aspect and how it will unravel to shape and mold Marc Webb’s overall Spider-Man story. In a way that keeps us the audience eagerly waiting for the next one and not moaning and groaning because yet another Spider-Man movie is coming out. It doesn’t feel that way at all and more so like something new and exciting is happening and we all get to be apart of it!
We get more of an insight into the characters with the brilliant production design. As a die-hard lover of the cinema, it put a smile on my face to learn more about Peter by seeing a Rear Window poster on the wall of his room, amongst other things.
Rhys Ifans does a brilliant job as always in his role. From the king responsible for all of the work credited today to William Shakespeare in Anonymous, to the psychologist boss that steals the girl of the hero using donuts in The Five Year Engagement. This time I loved him as the brilliant Dr. Connors, the scientist fueled by the loss of his limb to better life for all mankind. His character in the comics and the cartoons always were an aid to Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s path. Just from Ifans’ incredible acting, and aside from the writing, I could see the good inside of his character and how that could play out later when his inner battles with his alter-ego, The Lizard, come to play with his outer battles with Spidey and others, such as the golden egg found at the end of the film.
Dennis Leary as the police captain and overprotective father of Gwen Stacy was a great touch to add to the story. Martin Sheen was a great touch as well as the major character of Uncle Ben (a title I can personally relate to); the character pretty much responsible for the creation and continuance of Spider-Man. I loved how this film being a reboot and not trying to redo Raimi’s Spidey, everything was redone including the famous Uncle Ben quote in the story of Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility”. It was also nice to see Sally Field as the classic Aunt May, and how it was written and edited that she’d be a major player in the sequels to come!
A couple minor editing cuts and transitions could’ve been tightened up a little though and not seeing some really nice shots or quotes in the trailer that I didn’t experience in the final cut was a little bit of a let down. But it’s all for the aid of the story and not for the cool shot in the end. Some of the special effects came off as too “cartoon” and not realistic, basically The Lizard’s visual affects needing more tightening. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the theme portrayed during transitions. When Peter comes home a beaten mess, a quick little reminder as to why he keeps fighting in a cleverly written way to display that would’ve helped us remember why he keeps fighting and taken in those moments better.
Nonetheless, despite all that, minor flaws in the grand scheme of things because SPIDEY’S ESSENCE WAS TRULY CAPTURED! I had so much fun reliving my childhood all over again. Feeling like I was it was Saturday morning and I was in front of the TV with my cereal cheering on my idolized superhero!
Creator Stan Lee I’m sure is pleased. The face of Marvel comics has been properly put on display. Families everywhere will enjoy this great look at really experiencing humanity, having fun with the highflying action, and discovering why Spider-Man is truly AMAZING!
The Amazing Spider-Man
Action & Adventure, 136 Minutes, PG-13
Story by: James Vanderbilt
Written by: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Kloves
Directed by: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, with Martin Sheen, and Sally Field