URSULA PETERSEN ’15
It’s been five years since the last Spider-Man movie was released. That’s right, five years ago was the last time we saw Tobey Maguire don a mask and swing around New York, fighting foes. Of course, it doesn’t seem like five years, mostly because I am, unsuccessfully, trying to forget the final installment in the “Spider-Man” trilogy (long bangs do not work for Tobey Maguire). But this summer, those five years seemed to be a part of the distant past when the new film “The Amazing Spider-Man” was released in theaters.
Directed by Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”), “The Amazing Spider-Man” focuses on the life of high school student Peter Parker. Supposedly, this film was set to focus on a grittier version of Peter, laced with angst and mystery. Though, sadly, this film doesn’t follow through on its promises. Apparently, Hollywood doesn’t find it necessary to actually ask certain age groups what makes one an outsider. In this film, Peter is only an outsider because he wears an American Apparel hoodie and carries around a skateboard. If Webb is trying to capture a teenage audience with Garfield’s geeky outlook, he fails miserably. However, what Webb does accomplish is capturing the audience with the absolute brilliance of his actors.
Though Peter’s character is written and directed in a flimsy manner, the lead of “The Amazing Spiderman” carries through. Andrew Garfield, the up-and-coming Brit who you may recognize from the acclaimed movie “The Social Network,” charms the audience with his unabashed sarcasm and cheeky behavior. Garfield is just so likeable that he deflects the completely misguided attempts to make Peter seem weird. He’s awkward at times, but hilarious too, often mouthing off great one-liners like Lorelai Gilmore. And, of course, in this movie, it doesn’t hurt that Garfield is incredibly good-looking, despite his unfortunate hoodie.
Another extraordinary performance comes from Emma Stone. Stone plays Gwen Stacy, the studious object of Peter’s affections. Stone is a natural comedian, we all know that from watching “Superbad.” (If you haven’t seen “Superbad,” you’re way behind the times). Her comedic side shines through, even though her character is supposed to be serious. At times, Stone puts on the biggest smile, and delivers her lines with comical gusto that in the audience, you just can’t help but love her.
Now, despite the strong leads (as well as solid performances from Sally Field and Martin Sheen), “The Amazing Spiderman” lacks the gritty storyline it so promised. As far as superhero movies go, it’s pretty typical. Peter gets bitten by a spider, becomes physically superior to everyone, fights some petty criminals, and eventually realizes his responsibility as a hero and cripples a biological attack on New York. The problem with “The Amazing Spiderman” is that everything is just too easy. For instance, in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Bruce Wayne had some serious roadblocks in his path as Batman. His parents are murdered in front of him, the love of his life is blown up by a psychopath, he becomes hated by the city of Gotham, etc. “The Amazing Spiderman” lacks the noir of “The Dark Knight” series, instead relying on Garfield and Stone’s performances to make up for what the plot lacks—charisma. The plot of this movie is unappealing because we’ve seen it done so many times before, including the original “Spiderman” movies with Maguire. Sure, the villain of this movie is somewhat menacing, but he’s too cliché to be taken seriously, just like the rest of the plot line.
Overall, “The Amazing Spiderman” has two solid things going for it: Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. These bright actors bear the weight of a badly re-booted film upon their beautiful shoulders. Despite the lack of originality, Garfield and Stone make the film appealing, bringing unexpected light-hearted fun to a movie that promised to be a somber look at the life of young Peter Parker.