I wasn’t part of the mid-night audience which brought in $7.5 million just at that showing, but I was part of the audience later that day of July 3rd which earned the film over $35 million. It’s been only ten years since the first Spiderman movie was released with Tobey Maquire in the title role of Peter Parker/Spiderman. It’s been only five years since the third in the series was released with James Franco being heavily featured as well as the once friend turned enemy turned close buddy once again of Peter Parker.
So what am I getting at giving all this background?
The answer is simple for me. Those of us who saw all three of the previous Spiderman films probably did what I was doing during the opening sequences. That is, drawing comparisons between Tobey Maquire’s interpretation of the title role and Andrew Garfield’s rendition of the Peter Parker/Spiderman role. I must say that I was a bit distracted by all of that until I managed to submerge myself into the story and view it as it was a retelling of the original tale of how Peter became Spiderman but with a slight twist. That twist was mostly centered on the villain played by Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors and his relationship to Peter Parker’s father in experiments which would regenerate human parts in a manner not unlike that of a lizard re-growing it severed tail. Thus Peter is seen discovering clues as to how his parents died and what was the nature of his father’s work until one day, as in the first film, he has an encounter with a spider. Only in “The Amazing Spiderman” that would be a web full of them as part of an experiment.
Now Tobey and Andrew as Peter Parker is still presented as being not terribly popular, sticking up for the underdog to their distress, and picked on by a hunky big guy at school. Both are youthful but that baby face type of appearance is gone in Andrew’s character. Even when he starts to become the super hero physically, that development into the strong man with a desire to bring justice to his city is done so through the removal of contacts lenses, crushing door knobs and so forth. Andrew’s Peter is not given the comedic adolescent discovery that his manly attributes have also accentuated in the process of becoming Spiderman. This is important as he seems always to be confident in his relationship with the character of Gwen Stacy played by Emma Stone. In this film the Gwen character comes from a loving family and is brilliant; whereas Tobey’s love interest came from an abusive family situation. Another genetic difference in that transformative sequence is that the web strands shoot forth from a device which Andrew’s Peter Parker invents and not as part of the physical change as in Tobey’s Peter Parker. I am told that this is more in keeping with the original Comic Book story line.
Now once one sits back and stops the comparative analysis, you can and will be thrilled with the special effects, creature rendition of the villain and the emotional attachments between Peter and his Aunt May (played by Sally Fields) and Uncle Ben (played by Martin sheen), his attraction to Gwen and his non-ceasing effort to find out the truth behind his father’s secretive work before he died which brings him into a collision course with his father’s former partner Dr. Connors. Gone is the James Franco character who was Tobey’s only friend but that is another twist as well for you to discover.
In my teaching days I would assign “The Amazing Spiderman” a grade of B+ based on the cleverness of retelling the story with some freshness, though a few scenes were too dark for my taste, and the admirable job of the entire cast in rendering that sense of being new to what is essentially a remake.
(Arthur Cola is the author of four novels and screenplays. View his books at www.feedaread.com and amazon.com/kindle.)