As I’m writing this, there are throngs of people in movie theaters across the U.S. sitting in lines waiting to see The Amazing Spider-Man when he swings onto the big screens at midnight. On our way out of the theater we walked past the crowds eagerly waiting another two hours before getting their first look at the masked man. Most of them die-hards clad in their new and old Spider-Man t-shirts. They looked pumped for tonight’s premiere, ready to see how Garfield measures up to Tobey Maguire. I think they’ll find it worth the wait!
Peter Parker returns to the big screen, but this time Spider-Man is played by the skinny but muscular Andrew Garfield. Director Marc Webb turns back the clock and gives us a quick glimpse of Peter’s parents and the back story of how Peter comes to live with his Aunt May (Sally Fields) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). Now fast forward as the young Peter is a teenager struggling to fit in as the book smart high school student while the jocks have fun at his expense.
Looking for answers to his parents abrupt disappearance and searching his father’s research for clues, Peter seeks out his father’s colleague, scientist Dr. Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans). Dr. Connors, working at Oscorp Industries, is using the cross genetics species research he and Peter’s father had worked on to develop a way to regenerate his amputated arm. While snooping around the lab, Peter is bitten by a mutant spider and begins to experience some strange physical changes. His transformation includes the ability to scale walls, sticky fingers that would make super glue envious and superhuman strength.
So what makes The Amazing Spider-Man different from the original? Well, the players are different, apart from Garfield as Spidey, Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacy versus Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) in the previous version. This time around the villain isn’t the Green Goblin but is instead a mutant lizard (Rhys Ifans), the result of the doctor injecting himself with a serum that has some powerful side effects.
The on screen chemistry between Stone and Garfield is powerful and Webb gives the drama and relationship as much attention as the crime fighting and action scenes. Stone’s character is a strong female role as she plays the attractive and smart Gwen Stacy, capable of fighting her own battles and more of a partner to Spider-Man than a damsel in distress. Garfield is funnier, angrier and edgier in his super hero role than Maguire.
Nerds everywhere will rejoice from the gym scene, as Parker stands up to and humiliates the popular jock, Flash Thompson. While the comic book faithful might be the intended audience to appreciate the web shooters created by Parker, I also found them ingenious. The CGI, the 3D, the brilliant colors in Spider-Man’s suit and the detail in the webs are a pleasure to watch.
My final verdict: The Amazing Spider-Man left my spidey-senses tingling. This is one of the best uses of 3D technology I’ve seen this year and I’m glad the special effects and plot were worthy. My one and only disappointment, the amount of time we’ll have to wait for the expected sequel.
TIP: Be sure to stick around and watch thru til the end of the credits…you’ll miss the final scene of the movie.
Thank you to Marvel Entertainment for Columbia Pictures for allowing me to view an advanced press screening for purposes of this review. No compensation was received and all opinions are original.