A year ago I was often telling people that I thought the superhero film was a genre that needed to be left alone for about a decade (kinda like the Vampire genre). I had no idea then that 2012 would produce so many great superhero films. There is the Avengers of course. The Dark Knight Rises is coming up here in a few weeks and expectations are high. In between these two highly anticipated films comes The Amazing Spider-man, a film that often prompted the question: why a reboot already? Well, I have to say it’s as fun and engaging as The Avengers. There, I said it.
I was not all that excited to go see it today but I have loved the character my whole life so I went to our local IMAX theater and took the family. The first thing that popped in my head as it started was that I wasn’t really looking foreword to sitting through the origin of Spider-man again but the film wins you over almost immediately thanks to the unassuming and charming Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. I must admit that I have always been put off by Tobey Maguire as an actor so seeing a different and appealing actor in his place was already a huge step in the right direction for me. More importantly, the solid screenplay (James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves of the Harry Potter films) provides Garfield the ability to give us a more complex and emotionally troubled Parker. Peter’s realization and awkward adjustment to his new found powers are, again, familiar but completely fresh, funny and exciting to watch. Emma Stone is also completely winning as Parker’s original love, Gwen Stacie. They have particularly good chemistry and their scenes solidify are feelings for them. Rounding out the cast is Sally Field (good to see her again-it’s been a while) and the always reliable and go-to lately for kindly, white haired characters, Martin Sheen.
There is, of course, the villain and here we have Dr. Curt Conners/The Lizard Man (Rhys Ifans). Ifans is good as the mad scientist who turns himself into a lizard even if there is nothing particularly new/fresh about this character type. Once transformed, his rampage and battles with Spidy are truly exciting and eye popping much in the same way that the Avengers showed us last month. The movie builds wonderfully to a genuinely visceral climax. Director Marc Webb serves up big, clever action that highlights Spider-man’s abilities in ways that truly trump the previous films and connects them tastefully with engaging character moments that are able to ring true and compel us to care (not always easy when there are men in tights running around). The Amazing Spider-man reminded me, at times of Richard Donner’s Superman (1978). It has a bit of that film’s sense of awe and optimism. I was a little afraid too as I thought for a few seconds in one scene that I was going to hear Gwen ask Peter “Can you read my mind?”. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
I, for one, am happy and relieved that there is a Spider-man to get excited about. It’s a shame that this one arrived in 2012 and not in 2002. If The Dark Knight Rises delivers, 2012 will truly be remembered as the year of the superhero film.
P.S. Go see it in IMAX!