spidermanClimbing The Walls
The Amazing Spider-Man
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary and Irrfan Khan
Director: Marc Webb
Scriptwriters: James Vanderbilt, Steve Kloves and Alvin Sargent
Cinematography: John Schwartzman
Composer: James Horner
Rating: PG 13 for violence
Running Length: 135 minutes
This is, indeed, The Amazing Spider-Man, for the film series has succeeded in resurrecting itself and heading in a new direction. Not outer space, but inner space with a bit of angst and a villain with a sorrowful past. No Alfred Molina-large eyes, but Rhys Ifans’ softer eyes, even when as the Lizard creature. Andrew Garfield, the new Spider-Man (aka Peter Parker), is tall, gangly and does look like a high school geek who stumbles over his own feet. Emma Stone, as Gwen, appears older than her teen years and when you see her as a science intern, she seems a forward-looking twenty-ish woman. Spider-Man has to have a family, so enter Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen, also of the soft eyes) and a long-haired Aunt Mae (Sally Field.) Denis Leary? He’s Gwen’s father, the police chief.
As the story goes, we see Peter as a boy whose parents hurriedly leave him with relatives as they make a hasty escape. They are scientists, working to combine animal and human genes for medical purposes (growing new limbs for one), but someone wants their research. Peter ends up living permanently with his uncle and aunt and has a good life, except he is a teen now and questions the disappearance of his parents. Peter is very good in science and is in an accelerated program with Gwen. High school is full of bullies and Peter has his share of run-in’s with them. (You can see what will happen here a mile away when he gets his super power.) Peter becomes interested in his late father’s work and it leads him to Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans), a one-armed friend of his father. Eventually, the spider accident happens and from there Peter goes from juvenile web-shooter to sassy crime-fighter to now-I'm-in-the-business-for-good. Along this line of the story are sub-plots that are unresolved, so I'm guessing a second film is in the works. Connors experiments on himself and Lizard and Spider-Man are at each other’s throats, with Gwen and her dad in harm’s way and the special effects (I saw it in 3 D) are spectacular, especially a car hanging off a bridge. When Spider-Man flows from building to building, the audience is right there. And the outfit? It seems as though Peter makes it himself, using the latest technology. Shades of not having a butler to help you.
Andrew Garfield’s interpretation of Peter Parker grows on you. His angular face is stern but the eyes get soft and the looks between he and Gwen could melt ice. These teens are bright and into the latest electronics, so the bar is raised as far as their knowledge of formulas. When Peter realizes he has been bitten by a spider and has unusual powers, the child in him comes out. His experimenting in an old warehouse with chains is quite good.
Sally Field’s Aunt Mae is tender toward Peter and you wonder just how much she really knows. Martin Sheen’s Uncle Ben is a basic man who shows little emotion, but he clearly loves this kid and melts when Peter says he was a good father. Denis Leary is a police officer with a daughter and that just about says it all. It is Rhys Ifans, who brings a bit of ease to his portrayal of a man with one arm and longs for that other arm to the extent that he would do anything. You wonder, though, why a lizard? Do we need another “Star Trek“ Gorn?
All in all, “The Amazing Spider-Man” takes us down another road with an old character and that’s not always bad. Why the fascination? Perhaps it is because Spidey begins with the kid in all of us and he becomes another creature because of an accident, not a deliberate Bat Cave or magic hammer or avoidance of kryptonite. I'm still waiting for that Plastic Man film, however, and by the way, stay all the way through the screen credits in “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
Copyright 2012 Marie Asner


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