From the moment I heard the news of a Spider Man reboot, I shook my head in defeat. I had long sensed known that Hollywood had run out of ideas and this was yet another example of recycled ideas. This announcement was unique because it had barely been 10 years since the first Spider Man hit the silver screen. Usually, when a film is ready for a reboot, its predecessor was filmed in black and white and its original viewing audience was not jacked up on Boniva and Cialis at the time. It seems that as the years pass by the shelf-life of original movies becomes shorter and shorter. It used to be that film makers would be dreaming of a sequel to a successful movie. Now, film makers cannot wait to plan the next reboot. In the case of the Amazing Spider Man, I am happy to report that this is one of those rare reboots that is the exception, not the rule. Where many reboots go wrong, this film has done the spirit of Spider Man justice with new vitality and originality. Though Sam Raimi’s Spider Man is in its adolescence within the history of cinema, it was only upon further reflection that I came to the conclusion that Spider Man might have needed a once over. Andrew Garfield is a better Peter Parker/Spider Man than Tobey Maguire. This is not to say that Maguire’s portrayal of Spider Man was sub-par, but Garfield brings more depth of character to Peter Parker/Spider Man and as a result produces a more complete picture of a superhero.
A Superhero’s Strength Comes From His/Her History:
In Raimi’s Spider Man, we see but a snapshot of Peter Parker’s life as a teen and then we are quickly catapulted into his young adult/college life. In this short amount of time, Maguire is forced to catch the audience up to the Spider Man we know and love. So I think the result we see is akin to turning in a very good first draft instead of a carefully well thought out final draft.
In this reboot, there is no such hurry to rush through Parker’s early years. I am not a super-fan myself, but if I am to understand the unique story arch of Spider Man, he is a clumsy awkward teenager who is anointed with powers he did not ask for. Garfield’s portrayal as a young Parker is better acted because he is able to display to the audience that sense he did not ask for these powers, he will use them for selfish endeavours. Then we are slowly brought through the process of Parker’s realization to the extent of his selfishness and what he plans to do to redeem himself.
Maguire’s character comes off too much as a self-aware of whiner that’s reminiscent of the contemporary hipsters we see today without the intentional clothing. Think of Hayden Christensen/ Anakin Skywalker in red and blue spandex whose pulse rises slightly above catatonic when he is complaining and in a Thorazine induced stupor for the rest of the movie. Garfield’s portrayal is able to face trials and tribulations with less whining and blank stares. Based on the references from the comic books, the T.V show and the Marvel versus Capcom video games, then Spider Man is not only an awkward teenager but a witty superhero who is a couple of sarcastic notches down from Deadpool. Garfield is able to joke and be irreverent with more natural finesse than Maguire. Every time Maguire tried to deliver a witty line or insult, he sounded as if he was trying to communicate with a tourist whose primary language was not English.
Garfield cries better than Maguire. We must accept the fact that Superheroes cry. Superman cried after Lois Lane died. Thor shed a tear or two after his father banished him. Tony Stark drank in access making his liver cry. I am not questioning Maguire’s acting abilities on the whole (0:37), but if one’s crying inspires laughter and memes, then I think the performance has missed its intention. Normally when you see an actor cry on screen, he or she is trying to convince you of their sadness in hopes that you will sympathize more with their character. When Maguire cries my natural reaction is to laugh.
Spider Man 3, I Spit On Your Trilogy:
Spider Man 3 was a cry for help. My suspension of disbelief does not the posses the tinsel strength necessary to believe that Harry Osborn’s faithful butler has suddenly gained CSI-like abilities to differentiate between various types of knife wounds. Personally, I think it’s a dereliction of duty when he withholds from Harry the fact that daddy performed an accidental swan-dive upon the razor blades of his own Goblin Glider. Half of Harry’s face getting blown off was the apparent straw that broke the camel’s back. (HISHE– Hilarious).
Your Evil Side is Not Scary or Threatening:
Evil Peter Parker‘s nose bridge deserves to meet business end of a shovel. What the comics called for when the Symbiote overtook Peter Parker was someone who had all but embraced the “Dark Side of the Force.” What we got instead was a bad dancer with a Napoleon complex who has not earned his arrogance. Batman and Robin had more intimidating villains than this.
The Amazing Spider Man did not floor me like the Avengers did but this reboot was a pretty good retelling of what we already knew but with much needed depth of character and believability. Garfield portrays to the audience the burdens of being a superhero coupled with the complexities of teenaged angst without the whiny complaints of not being able to go to the Tosche Station to pick up some power converters. I cannot wait to see where this franchise goes.
Emma Stone rocks!