Review: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

By Laurie Coker

Rating: B

My grandson lay sleeping in his mother’s arms in a dark theatre when we watched Spider-Man 2; his first movie experience. Three years later, he and I attended Spider-Man 3, and I remember so well, because the movie company for the second film had open concession for press, the reels were out of order so we had to wait a long time for the projectionist to reorder them, and when the villain, Venom, hit the screen, Case turned to me, took hold of my shirt and said “I am ready to go Meema” – his eyes wide. I began to abide, but then he changed his mind. Now five years later, he and I watched The Amazing Spider-Man together in 3D and when asked what he thought, he said “GREAT!” While I am a tad more discerning than he, and there is little fresh in the tale, I did enjoy the film and its new cast.

I don’t read comic books and neither does Case, but he watches cartoons some. I say this because I know little about the source material, except a few character names. In this remake, we meet Peter Parker as a boy, when his parents have to leave him with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), and are either killed or go into hiding. Then the film leaps forward to an angst ridden Peter in high school where he defends the underdog, gets his butt kicked by the school bully, and we witness his crush on fellow science buff, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Soon however, after he snoops in the lab of his father’s former partner in cross-species cell research, he is bitten by a modified, spider and discovers his superhuman abilities. I won’t go more into the story – most comes straight from the original films and story and other bit parts (very few) are wholly new (at least to me and the few folks –some comic fans – I chatted with afterwards).

British born Andrew Garfield (Social Network) takes up the hood and rubber suit this time, as the teen Peter, and he (and the writers, I am sure) puts an arrogant, more assured spin on Parker (and his alter-ego). I like this version. This is not to say I did not appreciate Tobey McGuire’s Parker/Spiderman I did), I just think I like Garfield more and as an actor he has an impressive range of emotion. He’s cute, cocky and charismatic. His chemistry with Stone shines and the inclusion of Field and Sheen as his “parents” is excellent casting. Denis Leary, too, as Gwen’s mother, Captain Stacy of the NYPD, brings it.

Visually, the film offers a great deal, but again, here, I did not see the need for 3D, although, I did like the IMAX aspect. The glasses for the screening annoyed me more than usual, since when I tilted me head, even slightly, everything went blurry. Regardless, the special effects, Spidey flying nearly (he does have to get used to his new super-skills) effortlessly through New York City, the villain’s transformation and  impressive web shooting (this time Peter engineers super webs, placing them in modified watches on his wrist). My friend and I questioned Peter climbing walls in regular tennis shoes, but Case reasoned that the sticky goo making Spider-Man capable of spider-climbing oozed through. Funny!

Some say it’s far too soon for a re-do of this series (stay for a teaser after the final credits), but when you do it as well as director Marc Webb and crew, I have no problem with it. I am okay with this version, it doesn’t out shine the others, its reboots them, and that’s fine.  Hollywood overall does far too many remakes anyway, so why complain now? I am placing a B in my grade book. I knew the story all too well, and it did drag a few times, the 3D glasses sucked, but I thoroughly appreciated the cast and incredible visual effects. And his for his final word regarding the screening, Case called the PG-13 rated The Amazing Spider-Man, “amazing!” He is just eight after all.’

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