By: Addison Wylie
The most difficult task the audience must carry out while watching The Amazing Spider-Man is trying to distance this new origin story of the web-slinging superhero from Sam Raimi’s version starring Toby Maguire.
The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield takes the role of high schooler Peter Parker; a quiet individual who tools around with mechanics and could read about scientific discoveries all day when he’s not pulling off kickflips on his skateboard.
Instead of Mary Jane Watson, in this newer version, Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacy, an attractive girl who may or may not have a crush on Parker, and who is the daughter of a police Captain (played terrifically by Denis Leary).
With this story playing out differently than the one we saw in Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man, the changes are jarring as well as absent details such as any reference to the Daily Bugle. However, whether these changes are most faithful to the original material I can’t comment on. I haven’t read the Spider-Man comics so I rely on these movies or through avid Marvel go-getters to learn about the character. So, it is possible that these drastic changes in the script (written by Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves, and James Vanderbilt with Vanderbilt also supplying the story) better the film for comic aficionados.
Maybe in order for this revamped version to have worked more blissfully without audiences being initially judgemental, the studio should’ve allowed a few more years for the franchise to settle. For many of us, we still have the bad taste of 2007’s overloaded Spider-Man 3 in our mouths.
It’s too late to wait though. The studio, as well as (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb, have jumped on it and have brought us this surprising and immensely entertaining film.
The Amazing Spider-Man works in its own universe. Let me explain.
The Raimi Spidy flicks work because they are, by definition, comic book movies. Raimi was able to bring those panels to life with excitement, a fast pace, and elements of pure camp and cheese.
The Amazing Spider-Man has none of that camp or cheesiness that made Raimi’s films memorable and fun but Webb’s Spider-Man does have that same excitement. It’s also a more modernized and matured film. It works as an adaptation of a character we know and as a stand alone project.
Parker is no longer a squeaky nerd but rather an introvert who would much rather take pictures and spend time on the computer while also occasionally standing up to the school bully. The deeper backstory behind why Parker has no Mother or Father is also elaborated on which makes us care about Peter and believe him when he’s upset.
Maguire worked as that gung-ho cut-out of a geeky underdog but Garfield and the screenwriters are able to build Parker into a more dimensionalized hero.
My fear going into The Amazing Spider-Man was that the film was going to try to hit too many dark notes. After all, ever since Nolan reinvented the genre with his Batman films, filmmakers have felt the need to add too much drama and too many villains. I reach back to the aforementioned Spider-Man 3. That movie did not need that many baddies and, therefore, the focus was all over the place.
In The Amazing Spider-Man, there’s plenty of drama to counter the action, and even a couple of notable people die, but all of it feels necessary and a lot of it surprises us. This may be labeled as a remake but how the material has been handled feels very organic.
By the film’s middle, audiences will stop comparing the two properties. You’ll slink back and relax in your chair and enjoy the action, the acting, and most of all, how a group of people managed to pull off a feat like this without making it feel irrelevant.
SIDE NOTE: If we want to talk about irrelevance, let’s talk about 3D. I was fortunate enough to see this without the fancy glasses and the viewing experience was still fantastic. Watching the film, I couldn’t find anything that would be remotely more interesting in 3D and I would also dare to say that the dark hue of the glasses would put a damper those visuals. Just observations, of course.