In just five short years, Marvel’s Spider-Man gets the redbooted remake in Marc Webb’s thrilling The Amazing Spider-Man. While, before seeing the picture, one could argue the rationale of such a move on Columbia’s part, the necessity however becomes clear rather quickly as the movie opens. This is a film – a mythology/canvas – that is not going to miss any opportunities. We’re in the wake of The Avengers – a film many thought wouldn’t work – and so a superhero’s whole story must be open to inclusion. Characters – even minor ones – are prepped, studied, and fleshed out and earmarked for future possibilities. Origins are altered ever so slightly and – using the body design of Ultimate Spider-Man - even Spidey’s senses get their tingle on. For these reasons and more The Amazing Spider-Man feels complete.
Written by James Vanderbilt, Steve Kloves, and Alvin Sargent, The Amazing Spider-Man tells the story of one lanky Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) as he struggles with the memory of his parents’ abandonment and what the means for him as he wanders (and rides his skateboard) through the halls of his high school. He's known for his photographic skills, but mainly he just wants to disappear. Bullied by Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) and befriended by Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), Parker stumbles upon a long-thought missing item from his late and mysterious scientist father’s past that leads him to the biotech laboratory of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) at Oscorp Industries.
Dr. Connors wants to create a world without weakness and, in doing so, discovers a way for humans to regenerate missing limbs through studies in cross-species genetics. Here, sneaking in to Oscorp, Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and … well … you know the rest. He becomes Spider-Man. Connors becomes The Lizard. With a playful sense of humor, Webb examines the daily life of a teenager suddenly granted powers that are certainly unnatural. This time, though, the writers give Parker the comic book-approved web shooters which should please the fans as he takes to the rooftops and fights crime.
Parker, guided by anger/resentment toward a family that abandoned him long ago for no good reason and Uncle Ben’s death, uses his powers to track down the person and people responsible for the tragedy in his life. He comes clean to Gwen and - after finding no love inside the police force and media - continues the search of himself from behind the mask. Spider-Man becomes one side of his nature, but his soul – egged on by Ben’s words and a police captain (Denis Leary) – struggles for release as he battles his way in the streets and skies with a stark-raving madman called The Lizard.
Webb, a longtime music video director, brings the strength of his flashy visuals (which in IMAX are completely legit) and only previous feature film, (500) Days of Summer, to the Spider-Man story and mines the pages and panes of the comic for some additional emotion and a couple of extra shakes of reality. Sure, some of the emotion might seem familiar – the only thing that really remains of Raimi’s movies – but the tenderness and compassion shown by a number of characters is solely on the shoulders of Webb. And, with a mighty arsenal of tech work behind him, only Webb could have some powerfully stirring POV web-slinging shots work so well.
The film’s only sour notes come in the familiarity of the story at certain parts (substituting Gwen Stacey for Mary Jane) and the lacking performances from a consistently teary-eyed Sally Field and the remarkably unmoving Martin Sheen as Parker's surrogate parents, Aunt May and Uncle Ben. In spite of their promise in talent, these two aging stars do nothing to earn their keep as replacements for Rosemary Harris and Cliff Robertson. Still - when Sheen comes close to the now-famous Robertson speech – Webb surprises us with a dismissal. Garfield’s Parker brushes the advice aside with an accusatory “How dare you!” and leaves the audience with a nugget to chew on. Throughout the story, it is these tweaks that save the movie from crossing into too familiar territory.
In what goes down as the best superhero origin movie in quite some time, Webb cleverly slaps moments that ring of pure Americana by borrowing a moment from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom between Parker and Stacey and the original Footloose when Parker discovers his powers and trains...alone…on a dock…surrounded by construction junk. These wink-wink-nudge-nudge moments of cinema copping and name-dropping are fun to find and I suspect – with a poster of Rear Window on the wall of Parker’s bedroom – sprinkled throughout the picture. Webb loses the emotional momentum a bit with song selections from Coldplay and The Shins, but composer James Horner – placing the trumpet at the front of the score – gives us a fairly iconic new Spider-Man theme to attach our hopes upon.
This film might feel less humorous and more serious at times when held next to Raimi's trilogy (read: no dancing), but it’s certainly a lot more fun than what has come before and – much to my surprise for a Columbia/Marvel property – feels completely at home in the established Paramount/Marvel world. Don’t go expecting crossovers or guest appearances just yet, though. This is a one superhero show for now and there’s plenty of him swinging around – with and without mask - to delight fans.
Marc Webb has done Spider-man’s fans and Stan Lee (who has the best cameo yet) a solid favor with an origin film that literally – on all fronts – kicks some major ass. It takes only one film to wipe away most of Sam Raimi’s uneven Spider-Man series and its awful use of CG. In spite of some emotional familiarity, The Amazing Spider-Man is a knockout. Filled with raw power, some serious web-slinging CG work, and a full-throttled villain, Garfield’s spin on Peter Parker/Spider-Man will have you asking "Tobey Maguire who?" in no time.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence.
Runtime: 136 mins.
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves
Cast: Andrew Garfield; Emma Stone; Martin Sheen; Denis Leary; Rhys Ifans
Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
Tagline: The untold story begins.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Do you have any idea what you really are?"
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Official Site: www.theamazingspiderman.com
Release Date: July 3, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: November 9, 2012.
Synopsis: Peter Parker finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His path puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors, his father's former partner.
Available on Blu-ray - November 9, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Indonesian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Thai
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Portuguese: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Chinese: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (2 BDs, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: A
Swingin’ into homes everywhere comes this flawless 1080p transfer from Sony. Shot digitally, there is a glossless quality to its web-shootin’ ways that makes it something of a dazzler on Blu-Ray. The image is consistently marked with a solid crispness that provides supple amounts of fine detail – both in faces and costumes – and great definition. The big city atmosphere is not missed either as there is nice layer of grit and grime to the streets that was largely missing in the last trilogy of films. Here, the city breathes with grease and texture. Colors tend to be light and a little on the tonal side of the equation. They aren’t as breathtaking as they should be. With a nice immersive sound quality, Sony’s ripe DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is virtually unmatched. Both thrilling and edgy, the sound is a great addition to the heroics with its superhero sound.
- Discussing the need for a reboot, Director Marc Webb and Producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach offer the film’s commentary with explanation before covering the themes and the performances in the picture. It will be a good listen for anyone interested in Spider-Man’s rich canon of mythology. Also of interest is an iPad ap which offers the informative Second Screen Spider-Man Experience.
This is one of Sony’s bread and butter properties and they treat their fans right with a loaded set of supplemental material that, while not exhaustive in amount, is loaded with lengthy informationals. Up first is a seven-part production documentary that covers the process of bringing a new version of this familiar hero to the screen. Featuring interviews from the cast and crew, the featurettes trace the history of the shoot and talk about the look, the change to LA for the location, among other things related to Spidey. There are a nice selection of Deleted Scenes to entice viewers with and lots of Pre-Viz glimpses so that an appreciation of the amount of work it took to bring the film to life can be developed. Included are a couple of galleries and a look at the video game as well.
- The Drawing Board: Development and Direction (13 min)
- Friends and Enemies: Casting (15 min)
- Second Skins: Spidey Suit and The Lizard (11 min)
- Spidey Goes West: Production - Los Angeles (16 min)
- Safe Haven: Production - Sony Studios (16 min)
- Bright Tights, Big City: Production - New York (10 min)
- The Greatest Responsibility - Post Production and Release (29 min)
- Eleven Deleted Scenes (17 min)
- Sixteen Pre-Visualization (39 min)
- The Oscorp Archives Production Art Gallery
- Image Progression Reels
- Eight Stunt Rehearsals (12 min)
- Developing The Amazing Spider-Man Video Game (3 min)