In the realm of superhero movies (which seems to have taken over the summer blockbuster schedule over the past decade) it's going to be tough to beat Christopher Nolan and his incredible vision that is The Dark Knight. While we still have a couple more weeks before we can see the end to his Batman trilogy, it doesn't mean we have to sit around and wait to fill our superhero appetites.
This year has already been a big one for the box office, especially in regards to superheroes, with the release of a little movie called The Avengers. And, while that was a fun ride at the movies, for me it didn't really do much. There were exciting actions scenes and the return of memorable characters, but there were also too many cheesy "clever" one-liners and, where Nolan delves into more cinematic drama, The Avengers was like a summer pop song that you can't help but bob your head to even though you realize it's ridiculous and actually not that good. It's more of a hype hit which we're supposed to believe must be a good movie because it's made so much money. Money doesn't always mean quality, though.
But, back to Spider-Man. Where The Avengers lacked in a quality story, The Amazing Spider-Man more than doubles that. It's only been a decade since the Tobey Maguire/Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy was released, so it may seem weird to start everything over. Director Marc Webb's (500 Days of Summer) vision of Spider-Man is so different, though, that I didn't once think about Tobey Maguire or Kirsten Dunst the entire time I watched this new take on the classic comic book caper.
Webb's tale runs closer to the comic book story (from what I've been told...I'm not actually a comic book reader) and it seems the entire cast is in on the story 100%. Andrew Garfield as the geek-turned-hero Peter Parker is perfect. He has the best mix of nerdy shyness and cheesy confidence to pull it off. Emma Stone as the beautiful girl-next-door Gwen Stacy is brilliant. Stone's comedic timing and charm create the instant charisma needed to perfectly show Parker and Stacy's growing relationship. Stone and Garfield, who are dating in real life, have the chemistry to make it work seamlessly, providing some of the movies best scenes. Rhys Ifans as the evil Dr. Connors/Lizard is wickedly good in his role as a confused man just trying to heal himself and accidentally creating a monster. You almost feel bad for him throughout, which creates a unique dilemma for the audience. We, of course, want Spider-Man to win (and there are plenty of opportunities for that to not happen between The Lizard and the "friendly" NYPD), but we also want justice and redemption for everyone involved, which is why Webb's Spidey tale works so much better than Raimi's.
Beyond storyline, The Amazing Spider-Man also works thanks to the developments in technology. I'm very picky when it comes to CGI (another reason I didn't like The Avengers was that The Hulk looked so cartoonish to me it became distracting) and, for the most part, Webb's film pulls the effects off, especially during Spidey's pivotal effects scenes when flying through New York City.
While it's not quite on par to be a Best Picture contender like The Dark Knight Rises has potential to be, The Amazing Spider-Man is the kind of smart, clever, dramatic, exciting summer blockbuster we could use more of. It's not going to make as much money as The Avengers, which is a shame, but it should rank higher on the quality alone. A great, timeless hero story told through the eyes of a very normal, average person, The Amazing Spider-Man is definitely worth your time.
Runtime: 136 minutes
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence