When I heard they were remaking Spider-Man without Tobey Maguire and not continuing the current thread (no pun intended); I kinda wondered what was afoot? I mean they don’t necessarily reset the clock, story-wise, when they choose a new Bond. So what was the point in starting from scratch here?
The answer in a nutshell, was to introduce a different take on the Spider-Man story and head in a subtly different direction. (I’m assuming this occurred in the comic-books too). Peter Parker is now firmly pitched as a High School student; presumably so kids identify more readily with a younger version of their hero.
So, no more Daily Bugle and out with the J. Jonah Jameson character. As such, Parker’s interest in photography is still present, but takes more of a back seat. (No need for a career choice quite yet). Parker is also less nerdy than in previous outings and whilst rival Flash Thomson still makes an appearance, his character is less extreme too. (He’s still a bully, tho’ less so and it is possible he may have more of a human side, this time round).
Perhaps nerdy-ness is less of an issue in a post- Gates, Jobs and .com bubble world; bullies are a little passé now that we live in a more PC world; or perhaps they just wanted to focus on the real bad guys? (In the interests of kids identifying with the Parker character tho’, you’d think a little social awkwardness could have remained intact).
Any-who; let’s see. What else has changed? Oh yes: out with best friend Harry Osborn and straight swap girl next door Mary Jane Watson, with love interest Gwen Stacy. (A police Captain’s daughter). Plus, as head of Oscorp, Harry’s father Norman is still on the scene, but so-far we don’t actually get to meet him. Also, Peter’s parents make it into the storyline as a neat segue to Oscorp and the Dr. Curt Connors character.
At least the selection of a bad guy, not already encountered in the Maguire movies, helps keep things fresh. Plus, as a scientific hot bed of everything bleeding edge; Oscorp looks primed to provide a healthy supply of genetically engineered baddies. The events leading to Uncle Ben’s death are a little different too; tho’ it still has an element of Peter’s inaction not helping matters. Plus, the sucker still dies; (he just can’t catch a break huh? ;o)
I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Andrew Garfield made a believable Spider-Man / Peter Parker; (if indeed superhero and believable sit well in the same sentence). Emma Stone did what she does best and nailed the romantic interest role as per usual. In fact most of the major roles were well cast, come to think of it.
Rhys Ifans fared well as The Lizard / Dr. Curt Connors. Who, given an intellectual roll could simply adopt an English accent, rather than attempt an American one. (He actually hails from the Welsh part of the UK and his customary speaking voice wouldn’t have had quite the same affect).
Denis Leary was good as Captain Stacy (Gwen’s Father). He seems to do a believable job in cop roles; tho’ even to this day, I keep expecting him to switch to stand-up mid-sentence. Martin Sheen was OK as Uncle Ben; tho’ the role wasn’t particularly challenging. Even Sally Field made an OK Aunt May. (Is it just me or does Sally Field look permanently sad these days; as if she somehow misses the Burt Reynolds times)?
Highlights for me included: the Spidey’s-eye-view of swinging around the city (3D of course); the exaggerated mid-air poses we’ve come to expect from every self-respecting comic-book hero; the provision of such a challenging adversary as the Lizard; the speed/variety of web shots and the agility of spidey during the fight scenes and when hauling ass down the back alleys etc.
A few things actually spoiled the movie for me: I know a key theme was cross-species genetic engineering and particularly lizards growing new limbs. But I could’ve done with the pace of regrowth being slowed down a little. Also, showing the American flag and having NYC construction workers line up the cranes was a tad cheesy. (I’m not even sure it seemed like that much of a help).
Having said that, the spoilers weren’t severe enough to impact my enjoyment too much. (Hollywood schmalz is a long tradition I suppose). I’d still give The Amazing Spider-Man a 4 out of 5 and highly recommend it for family entertainment.