To My Mind, Amazing Spider-Man Is Superior

amazing spider-man poster

Like a lot of people, I was dubious when I head about plans to reboot the Spider-Man film franchise so quickly after the previous installment (there’s only 5 years between Spider-Man 3 and Amazing). I’m also about the only person on Earth who doesn’t like Spider-Man 2 (too overwrought) and one of the many people who actively disliked Spider-Man 3, so more Spidey on the big screen wasn’t something I was interested in whatsoever. So, why’d I wind up watching it last night? Pretty simple: we’ve got a Starz’ family movie channel replacing the absent CBS on our cable and it happened to be on. With a general feeling of, “Eh, why not?” and our daughter loving Spider-Man, my wife and I figured we’d give it a shot.

And, you know what? I really enjoyed this movie. I’ll say right now that it’s been years since I watched Spider-Man and my memories of that film have absolutely been tarnished by the sequels, but Amazing compared favorably to that other film as far as I’m concerned. I liked the “figuring out his powers” scene a lot for instance and not just because it included skateboarding.

While still doing the origin thing (which I actually missed as we turned the movie on about 10 or 15 minutes late) the movie focused more on Peter Parker as a high school kid. Before Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) inevitably passes away, but after Peter discovers his powers, he embraces his new abilities as well as the scientific projects he gets to work on with the one-armed Dr. Connors. They’re working on a limb regeneration experiment that Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) winds up using on himself, which turns him into the Lizard, a process that drove him so crazy that he utilized a device to try and spread the lizard-izing chemicals all over NYC. Meanwhile, Peter’s flirting with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and meeting her dad (Denis Leary) who doesn’t like the vigilante running around his city.

First and foremost, I adored Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Spider-Man. I’d only ever saw him in The Social Network and wasn’t sure how he’d play as one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, but I thought he killed it. He nailed the darkness that comes from the loss of a loved one along with the general high school angst. This isn’t just the story of Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man, but the story of a boy dealing with the loss of his father figure while also working through actual parental issues and you feel that throughout the film. Then, a few minutes later, he’s doing the whole jokey thing which is clearly his way of embracing his new life. Some people complained that there wasn’t enough joking around, but that made sense with this story which gets pretty intense pretty quickly.

I also appreciated what they didn’t do in this movie. There’s no “With great power comes great responsibility” or wrestling match or Mary Jane or J. Jonah Jameson or Norman Osborn. Those elements are there in various forms, but after seeing those things done already, it was nice to see them skipped over this time around. My biggest concern going into Amazing was that it would be far too much of a rehash. Sure, director Marc Webb ((500) Days Of Summer) makes nods to the comic book and movie origins but also puts a spin on them that makes sense within the context of this film.

amazing spider-man poster 2

I should also note that I’ve never read Spider-Man comics aside from an Ultimate Spider-Man binge-read I did years ago that got me up to around the #100 mark (I didn’t dig it). So, while watching this version of the story I wasn’t concerned with “Hey, that’s not like the comic” or constantly comparing it to the hundreds of comics I’ve read (like I did with Dark Knight Rises and Man Of Steel). Thanks to that disconnect I was able to just sit back and enjoy the film.

Oh, the special effects are rad too. I know they did as much practically as they could, but even the super CGI-y scenes made sense and looked pretty good on my TV. I’d still like to watch the movie on Blu-ray at some point to really see how good or bad it looks.

I dug the movie and so did my kid actually. It’s funny the little things here and there that she picks up on. There’s a part where Peter’s supposed to pick up eggs but gets sidetracked. My wife and I both joked that he forgot the eggs when he got back to the house and our daughter kept asking about the eggs throughout the movie. Unfortunately, she fell asleep before that was all wrapped up at the end of the movie, yet another reason to watch the movie again!

Quick Movie Review: (500) Days Of Summer (2009)

I was not surprised that I liked (500) Days Of Summer. It had a lot going for it. First off, I have a gigantic crush on Zooey Deschanel (she even sings in the movie!). Second, I’m a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (especially the way he’s handled his career even though I don’t always like his movies, I respect his choices). And third, the Totally Rad Show guys all liked it. So, yeah, as it turned out, I liked the movie a lot, which is funny because the plot is somewhat similar to that of The Wackness, which I reviewed a few days back and didn’t really like. Allow me to explain. The story is told from G-L’s perspective for the most part and follows him on his journey through love and heartbreak with Deshanel (Summer), who isn’t as into him as he is into her. The plot sounds simple and tired, but it’s not thanks to the way director Marc Webb tells the story. For one thing, it’s told in scattered order jumping back and forth through time in the 500 days G-L found himself fawning over Deschanel. We also get these wonderful flourishes that step out of reality and show the viewer things from more of an emotional perspective. There’s a mini documentary about love and, in my favorite moment in the scene, G-L walks out of Deschanel’s apartment and then the city turns into a drawing and then starts disappearing until it’s just his silhouette standing there. Sure, they could have just showed him smiling, but these kind of moments make this more than just an average movie. There’s another full-on dance number and a scene where G-L dances with a light-up sidewalk like a Michael Jackson video (this may even be in the same sequence with the city fading away, I can’t quite remember). And I’m glad these moments are there, because it’s not always easy to see G-L struggling so hard with a job he doesn’t really care about and, more importantly, a girl who doesn’t necessarily care about him as much as he does her. Em didn’t like the almost-ending, which I won’t spoil and kind of comes out of nowhere, but then the very end of the movie wrapped things up really well and in a clever way to boot. I will warn you that this isn’t an easy movie to follow if you’re not paying attention because it does jump around so much. So, this one’s highly recommended and kudos to Webb, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.