“The Amazing Spider-Man” Movie Review

     You may be thinking it’s a little too soon for a Spider-Man reboot with the last installment only five years old, but apparently Marvel didn’t think so and thus we have “The Amazing Spider-Man”.  The former cast is gone and Marvel has essentially decided to start over from the beginning again and tell the original story.  You have to figure a big summer tentpole like this is going to have every resource available to ensure the film ends up meeting what I have to figure will be very high audience standards.  After all, the first three Spider-Man films remain three of the highest grossing films of all time, setting massive box office records and attracting legions of fans around the world.  Even Tobey Maguire earned rave reviews as Peter Parker / Spider-Man, as did former director Sam Raimi’s overall vision.  This version of Spider-Man; however, is cut from a different cloth.

     The studio hired director Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”), an indie filmmaker with limited feature experience and needless to say, nothing even close to this magnitude.  After viewing “The Amazing Spider-Man”, the first thing I felt is the decision to hire an indie director was clearly the right one.  To be different than its predecessors and establish its own identity, this film had to be executed differently.  Whereas the Raimi films are big bombastic special effects extravaganzas, Webb’s “Spider-Man” is a slower, easier to digest and take in character driven film.  Rather than stage huge action sequences throughout, Webb and his screenwriters create scenes which develop the story through dialogue and meaningful conversation.  Raimi’s original seemed to gloss over the relationship between Peter and his Uncle Ben and Aunt May as they were almost an afterthought.  Webb’s film takes the time to include numerous scenes that create an understanding of their relationship with each other and how they effect each other’s lives.  This is a good thing.

     This is not to say “Spider-Man” doesn’t satisfy in the action category.  Webb shows a creative visual flair as Spider-Man web swings high above the streets of New York City and effectively uses a point of view camera to put the audience front and center.  The film’s technical brilliance never falls short of the original Spider-Man and yet seems to be significantly more multi layered in both story and character.  Quite a feat to see this twice in one summer after the earlier release of “The Avengers” and it should be noted we’ll likely see it again in two weeks when “The Dark Knight Rises” hits multiplexes.

     As for our new Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield deserves a ton of credit for his spot on depiction of this famous character.  His Peter Parker shows a tremendous emotional resonance throughout and he successfully injects a very sly humor into many of his lines.  Peter is a typical teen with problems he feels center upon just him, not effecting anyone else.  Because of the solid script and dedication to these characters, we see Garfield literally grow emotionally as he begins to understand the bigger picture his Uncle Ben is trying to explain to him.  This also applies to Peter’s relationship with his wannabe girlfriend Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone.

     Stone’s character is the original love interest of Peter Parker before the introduction of Mary Jane Watson in the original Spider-Man comics.  In this story, she becomes interested in Peter after he sneaks into a tour of Oscorp of which she is an intern.  Peter is in search of answers as to what happened to his mother and father and this has led him to the former workplace of his father and the current leader of Oscorp, Dr. Curt Connors.  Connors has dedicated himself to research and development of a serum that regenerates human limbs that have been amputated, kind of like a lizard.  The trials of which will have extreme consequences.  As in Raimi’s films, it is Oscorp where Peter is bitten by the spider which turns him into “Spider-Man”.

     Its been made clear by Marvel that the studio intends this film to be the beginning of a new trilogy.  After the conflicts of the third act are resolved, we’re treated to a series of scenes which allude to what may come in the future.  I don’t have a problem with this as there is clearly more to tell and I definitely want to see more of this cast.  Garfield and Stone show incredible chemistry on screen and I can only imagine what kind of encore Webb and his talented team of writers have in store.  I’m not taking anything away from Raimi’s films, but this Spider-Man truly deserves the title of “Amazing.” GRADE: A-