Monday, September 3, 2012

Spiderman Vs. Spiderman

The Amazing Spiderman

            Superheroes are not a new trend.  The Greeks and Romans honored gods and demigods of super-human strengths long before us.  Even so, superheroes are currently dominating mainstream pop culture, escaping from the dusty comic shops and conventions and taking their place as titans of the box office.
          Ten years ago, before Iron Man crafted his suite, Thor swung his hammer, and Captain America raised his shield, Spiderman swung through the streets of New York, saving and sacrificing for its people.  Sam Raimi's Spiderman films led the way to a deluge of Marvel characters appearing on the big screen.  The first two films provided an ordinary and likable character, gave him power, and asked for him to be extraordinary.  There is no more profound line in a superhero movie than Spidermans' "With great power comes great responsibility."  The movies were special.  They were the first hero movies I really connected to.
          I think it's why I was so hesitant to watch The Amazing Spiderman, the 2012 remake starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network).  While the third Spiderman was a dud in every sense, the first two were fantastic.  Tobey Maguire played the role perfectly.  I do think that hero fans love the hero, the character, above the actor or the version, but with the trilogy barely ten years old, could Garfield really take over the web in a way that made Spiderman a worthy reboot?
         After finally watching the movie, I cannot fully answer the question.  The Amazing Spiderman is a different film than Raimi's Spiderman, but it certainly can't avoid comparisons.  Andrew Garfield plays a cocky, sometimes downright selfish and rude Peter Parker.    The film focuses on Peter's angst over his parents' deaths and his burgeoning feelings for Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).  I like Emma Stone as an actress, but the relationship doesn't't really resonate as much as it should have.
           In the new film,  it takes over half the film for Peter to even start to become Spiderman.  Before that, he's just a skateboarding punk kid with occasional flashes of kindness.  The villain, played by Rhys Ifans, is cartoonish as can be expected from most Marvel villains (Loki excluded).  Ifans becomes The Lizard, a creature that frankly reminds me of something that should be on a late night Science Fiction channel, not a blockbuster movie.  He just felt like a B-movie version of The Green Goblin.
          Besides a scene in which Spiderman saves a boy from a burning car by giving him his mask for "strength," there are few truly heroic moments for Spiderman.  He develops some in the film, but truthfully, I found Denis Leary's Captain Stacy to be the real hero of the movie.   So what then, can I conclude? It did have one amazing moment: Stan Lee's cameo as an oblivious librarian in the midst of battle was his best yet.  Aside from that,  if I had never seen Sam Raimi's films, I would have enjoyed The Amazing Spiderman, and perhaps future films will develop the new Spiderman to be a worthy predecessor.  Andrew Garfield is a promising actor who has the capacity to really develop the character.  However, for now, the new film lacked the message of its elder.  It was decent, but truly, the original Spiderman movies are the films that deserve the moniker Amazing.

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