Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ Review: Garfield & Stone Are Exquisite

As much as the title does suit the film, The Amazing Spider-Man could have also easily been titled: Peter & Gwen: The Untold Story. Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy’s relationship is truly the main character in the film, which is interesting and unfortunate at the same time.

The audience walks in, expecting a superhero story, (it is Marvel after all), but we leave feeling as if we just witnessed a beautiful love story and with that being said, Garfield and Stone are exquisite.

Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) makes the decision to focus on human emotions of the characters versus the special effects and 3D. I loved how the story centered on Peter and Gwen’s relationship from their initial meeting, but I can also see that other Marvel fans may not like it, unless they are huge fans of Gwen Stacy. Webb did shoot the film in 3D, however the 3D effects are not spectacular and at times I forgot I was watching a 3D movie. There should have been more Spider-Man point-of-view shots and a bigger depth to his world that 3D could have created for the viewer.

The film opens and we are introduced to a young Peter Parker who is playing hide and seek with his father. When a break-in occurs at their home, his parents take him to his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May’s (Sally Field) home to stay for a few days. Unfortunately, our little Peter Parker never hears from his parents again. Years later, we meet high-school Peter (Andrew Garfield), who was raised by his aunt and uncle, gets picked on viciously by the school’s bully Flash (Chris Zylka) and has a crush on his class’ valedictorian Gwen Stacy (the beautiful Emma Stone).

He’s just bein Spidey.

When Peter discovers an old photo of his father and an unknown man, he questions his Uncle Ben, who tells him the man is Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who worked with his father. The two worked together on a genetic research project before his father’s disappearance. Peter finds Dr. Connors at a lab, where is is working on a similar project.

Of course, it’s at this lab, where Peter gets the famous spider bite, noticing a change almost immediately. There is one particularly fun scene where he is riding the subway and inadvertently shows off his new powers.

We all know what happens to poor Uncle Ben and this is what triggers Peter to explore a life of crime fighting. Because the man in the blue and red suit is all over town, Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) of the NYPD becomes easily aware of him and plans to take him in. Unfortunately for Peter, he is very much in love with the Captain’s daughter and she with him.

Crazy in love.

The best scene in the film takes place in Gwen’s bedroom and we get a glimpse of it in the trailers. There is so much chemistry between Stone and Garfield, I felt like I was watching something so private and shouldn’t have been witness to their conversation. Yes, these two actors are dating in non-Spidey life, but they exhibit such a huge presence when they are on screen together, I couldn’t take my eyes off them. Garfield pummels Maguire’s Spidey, while Stone creates a more fun and interesting love interest over Dunst’s damsel, Mary Jane.

Webb does a brilliant job using less CGI and shows more scenes of Garfield in the Spider-Man suit. We see Spider-Man talk more, take his mask off in several scene and deliver more witty lines in the actually suit, than we did in Raimi’s version.

Where the film misses their web-slinging target, is it’s villain. Ifans does everything he can for Dr. Connors, who eventually turns himself into The Lizard, but the green monster literally becomes too much like Raimi’s Green Goblin. The villain is completely unoriginal, despite Ifan’s touching delivery.

Despite the lack of special effects and an exciting villain, Webb’s Spider-Man tells a fascinating love story between Peter and his first true love interest. Although the villain is a 2/5, Garfield and Stone are a 5/5. The Amazing Spider-Man receives 4/5 Stars.

Kevin McCarthy from Geek Nation sits down to talk Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen & Denis Leary here.

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