Jul 24, 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-man

I actually saw a movie soon enough to make a review seem reasonable! Yay me! (And Yay Dad! for paying. :) ) We decided to spend Pioneer Day (a good day to be a Utahn) at the movies, which is a real treat as I don't get home in time to catch a matinee and we're all too cheap to spend the money the a full priced ticket.

Title: The Amazing Spider-Man
MPAA rating: PG-13, for violence
My rating: **** (this rating is completely bogus, by the way. I've never actually come up with any kind of rating system, so this could be four out of four, or four out of ten. I don't know. I've never decided and I think it changes every time I review something. This time, it's four out of four.)

To prepare for seeing The Amazing Spider-Man (TASM), a week or so ago I watched Spider-Man (SM), so I had that fresh in mind as I was watching.

I really like Spider-Man, so I'm not going to bash it or the actors in it, but there a lot of things that I think TASM did better.

Caution: May contain minor SPOILERS (depends on how "in the dark" you want to be)

To start off, I feel like this whole movie was to give the viewer a true understanding of Spider-man's "origin story." Where he came from (dad was scientist, parents died, raised by aunt and uncle), how he became Spider-man (spider bite), why he started fighting evil (Uncle Ben), and what is he getting out of it (at first, freedom from guilt, which then changes to knowledge of doing good). In comparison, SM went quickly over the origin into a different storyline making the movie cover at least a year (if not more). Because TASM only covers a few months, I feel like I got a better feel for all the characters.

That leads me to point number two. Compared to SM, I feel that TASM had a more complex storyline and deeper characterization. Even Flash, a minor character, shows growth and depth after Uncle Ben dies. Because of the shortening of time, I feel that we get to see more about Peter accepting what has happened to him after the bite. We get to see him as the super intelligent person that he is, which I feel like was only alluded to in the previous films. And then when Ben dies, we see the transformation of Peter's motivation from vengeance to genuine heroism.

This leads me to point number three. Gwen Stacy and her father. I felt that the real turning point in Peter's motivation comes from these two. First, when Captain Stacy argues with Peter about Spider-man, and then when Peter tells Gwen that he is Spider-man. A side-kick/confidant is key to a lot of hero stories and I really feel that it helped Peter to have someone he could talk to. In SM, Peter is trying to deal with everything himself, and he ends up losing multiple jobs, and the girl, and his best friend, and fails school. Not that Garfield's Peter Parker won't have issues, but having someone who knows who he is, is going to help ground him, and keep him from losing himself to Spider-Man.

As for Andrew Garfield, I know that there are very differing opinions about him as Spider-Man (as there are of the whole movie). For me, I thought he was great. He was able to play the awkward genius teenager really well (loved the scene in the school hallway with him and Gwen), but he was good looking enough to make me want to be saved by him. :) Though Tobey Maguire was a good Spider-Man, I think Garfield was the perfect choice to play the new one. In fact, I thought all of the actors were great in their roles. I also really appreciated the smaller amount of CGI; it made everything feel much more real.

If you want something a bit more "comic book-y" I would recommend the Tobey Maguire franchise. It's a bit more faster paced, a little bit more cheesy (in a good way). But either way, see The Amazing Spider-Man. It's got some moments of cheese as well, but it's got a good plot and good characters.

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