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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Spiderman Redux

"Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can."  Oh, and also set a record for the shortest period of time between 'reboots.'  When I heard last year that my favorite Marvel superhero is getting a reboot, my jaw dropped.  I mean, wasn't 'Spiderman 3' released only five years ago in 2007?  Has Hollywood no shame?!!!  Then I put it in perspective and considered the fact that only eight years separated 'Batman and Robin,' the godawful 4th and last installment of the previous Batman series (which saw no less than three actors playing the Dark Knight in Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney) and the current one starring Christian Bale which started in 2005.  So why the hell not?  Like Batman for DC Comics, Spiderman is THE iconic superhero in the Marvel universe, and you can always count on Hollywood to green-light whatever would make them a shitload of money, right?  So sue them for having the gall to be the greedy capitalists that they are.

Being the Marvel fanboy that I am, I went to see 'The Amazing Spiderman' with the attitude that it's just more of what I wanted.  But knowing that this movie cannot escape the shadow of the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire version, I was expecting it to be something of a letdown.  And I am happy to report that it's not bad at all.  'The Amazing Spiderman' is a solid movie in its own right.  While there are elements of the story that are familiar to those of us who have seen the previous trilogy, this movie stands on its own and introduced new characters and layers to the world of Spiderman.

One of the things I liked more in this latest treatment than the previous one is Andrew Garfield, who fits my image of the Peter Parker I've read in comic books from my childhood far better than Tobey Maguire.  If the name sounded familiar, it's probably because you saw him in the movie 'The Social Network.'  Garfield was perfectly cast as Peter Parker, a bookish 'nerd' who's not really a nerd at all.  I know this sounds like a self-contradiction, but you have to be familiar with the Peter Parker portrayed in comic books to see what I mean.  His 'girlfriend' in the movie this time is not Mary Jane but Gwen Stacy, capably played by up-and-comer Emma Stone.  The relationship between Peter and his uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and aunt May (Sally Field) are also explored in greater emotional depth in this movie.  The obligatory villain in 'The Amazing Spiderman' is a comic book favorite of mine, the scientist-turned half-man-half-reptile called 'The Lizard.'  Nothing fancy here, folks, Stan Lee names them simply as they are.

The FX and action sequences are nothing to write home about and a little 'been there, done that,' but I am very forgiving and tolerant when it comes to the genre.  Given what came before not so long ago, this movie had big shoes to fill and a lot to measure up to.  And with this challenge, 'The Amazing Spiderman' didn't suck.  And that is all a fanboy can reasonably ask for.

7 out of 10

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