They got it right. The Amazing Spider-Man can take its place in the summer blockbuster Hall of Fame, as entertaining and thrilling as any films of the superhero canon, and set the stage for sequels. There is a release date for the first sequel but no script at this point.
Some of the best flying sequences in movies are right here in this tasty action epic; you feel you’re hurtling between skyscrapers and into space in the skies over Manhattan. It’s visceral; you know what it is to fly, at the movies at least. The sequences are dizzying, thrillingly beautiful and haunt us long after the film ends.
The simmering romance between Spider-Man and Gwen Stacey has equal importance to the other matters at hand like the killing of the virus that’s turning people into lizard monsters and the ancient battle against evil. It’s well developed and as they are such likeable characters, it’s a beautiful counterpoint to the darkness of Parker’s mission.
Parker’s personal mission is to find out what became of his parents when he was a child. He was raised by Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) but always felt the emptiness of their loss. He gets to know his father’s partner Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) and learn about his experiments in genetics.
Parker’s worldly mission is to get to the root of what’s eating Connors, and stamp out the evil he unleashes. That’s the central driving force of the film, the intense battles high in the skies of the city, and in its sewers, man versus monster, light versus dark, the usual superhero destiny. There is tendency to overkill and sadly the monster lacks originality and interest.
Andrew Garfield is the new Spiderman and does a bang up job tackling an extreme range of superhero emotions, keeps a cool head but allows the odd tear to trail down his cheek. He’s beautifully paired with Stone, as Gwen, who happens to be the daughter of Chief of Police, and she has tremendous presence, intelligence and integrity. And she doesn’t just stand there – she’s pro-active in Spidey’s battles and a moral support.
It’s a special delight to watch the veteran supporting players Field, Denis Leary, and Sheen, as they tackle the adult issues that arise like family, ageing and death. Theirs are familiar faces well-worn by time and experience, and brimming with love for Parker. These are great moments.
Marc Webb’s background as a director of music videos and the tender, intimate romantic drama 500 days of Summer culminates in a perfect balance for this umpteenth Spiderman outing, and makes it one of the strongest. It’s a winner as it successfully marries the outsized super hero and human hearts and big special effects with kitchen table intimacy.
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35mm action adventure
Written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves, and Steve Ditko based on Stan Lee’s Marvel comic book
Directed by Marc Webb
Opens: July 3rd
Runtime 136 minutes
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence