Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, Martin Sheen, Denis Leary; Direction: Marc Webb; Story: James Vanderbilt Based on Stan Lee and Steve Ditco; Screenplay: James Vanderbuilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves; Cinematography: JohnSchwartzman; Editing: Allan Edward Bell, Pietro Scalia; Music: James Horner; Producers:Avi Arad, Laura Zisin, Matt Tolmach; Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Drama; Running Time: 136 minutes; Location: New York, USA; Distributor: Columbia Pictures
CINEMA Rating: V14 (For viewers aged 14 and above)
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is an awkward ostracized student at Midtown Science High School who still feels the pain of being abandoned by his parents when he was a little boy. Constantly bullied and ignored, he finds solace in the attempts of friendship by his classmate Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) and the loving care of his surrogate parents Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). He attempts to find the truth about his past when he discovers a briefcase his father left behind. The search leads him to Oscorp Industries where his father used to work with Dr. Curtis Connors (Ryan Ifans). As he tries to piece together clues he found with the present work of Dr. Connors, he is accidentally bitten by a spider which instantly gives him strength, reflexes and agility. Peter frequents Dr. Connors to learn more about his transformation and his father. Unfortunately, his obsession coupled with hormones, identity crisis and teenage angst constantly leaves him at odds with Uncle Ben. In one of their arguments, Uncle Ben is shot by a mugger who Peter has allowed to escape. In his guilt, he uses his superpowers to hunt down the killer and take it upon himself to rid New York of criminals as a mask vigilante called Spiderman. Capt. Stacey sees otherwise and gives a standing order to the NYPD to arrest him. But when Dr. Connors transforms into a rampaging giant Lizard, Spiderman learns the true meaning of doing good and Capt. Stacey understands what Spiderman really stands for.
The Amazing Spiderman is not another version of the original Raime-Macguire trilogy but a movie version with more maturity, deeper humanity and bigger beating heart that brought the film a certain reality lacking in previous versions. The casting and their corresponding performances are exceptional. Garfield’s take on Parker’s coming of age awkwardness and angst is vivid and genuine. The chemistry between Peter and Gwen is engaging, to say the least. As a narrative, there are a few loopholes that could have been tighter but these came so few and far between that audience can easily ignore for the power of the intimate non-Hollywood moments director Marc Webb chose. Another element that could not be ignored is the precise and inspired scoring of James Horner which punctuates the drama and action of the film. These, together with the astonishing CGIs and 3D effects, make for a spectacular movie. It was not a surprise that on opening day the theatre resounded with approving applause from satisfied and moved viewers as the end credits rolled.
As the original Spider film’s immortalized words “with great power comes great responsibility” stuck to our minds, this version tells us two more things. That everyone has the “moral responsibility—not choice—to do what is good. This need not be a bloody heroism or an exploit witnessed by many but just everyday acts of kindness including remembering to do a simple chore for someone in need. One’s moral obligation to do good means not consenting to or keeping quiet in the face of a crime. It will have its repercussions later on. Peter ignored the mugger when he easily could have stopped or helped the store owner. In the end, the mugger killed his Uncle. Although Peter/Spiderman tried to make up by being a vigilante, it did him and the people around him no good until his reasons for helping came from a desire to do what is right instead of trying to give a bad person what he deserves.
This brings us to the second lesson. Revenge is different from justice and helping a person in need. When Peter humiliated Flash although we would all agree he had it coming, Uncle Ben was quick to point out that Peter’s actions did not really make him feel a better man. Capt. Stacey reiterated that a man who wears a mask and lurks in the shadows is not the same as a man who wears a badge and keeps law and order.
Overall, The Amazing Spiderman is great movie, one that viewers will remember and talk about and use as reference in the next years. However, violence and destruction and some themes make it unsuitable for the very young audiences.