Amazing Spiderman is well … definitely amazing in its special effects, art direction and Andrew Garfield’s characterization. My generation has grown up on the Spiderman cartoon which used to be aired on the only Doordarshan channel every Sunday evening. In anticipation for the movie to start I was humming the song, “Spiderman Spiderman, does whatever a spider can, spins a web any size, catches thieves just like flies …” when my confused son told me stop. He was confused because first, I was singing this ancient song and second, he was expecting to see Tobey Maguire and was not sure if Andrew Garfield was the real one.
Coming back to the movie, the amazing Spiderman is different from the “original” Spiderman. The amazing Spiderman takes the same path as the original story where Peter Parker is the school geek bullied by jocks and has a huge crush on one of the prettiest girls on campus. The more visible changes are, introduction of Peter’s parents (which actually explains his inclination to science), the absence of Mary Jane and her being replaced by Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), the loudmouthed editor of Daily Bugle J. Jonah Jameson is missing & even though Uncle Ben is murdered by a fleeing burglar, the background is slightly different.
The biggest metamorphosis from the original however happens due to Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) characterization. He already showed great promise in The Social Network & as the web slinger is way cooler than Tobey Maguire; he definitely has more attitude, even when he is being bullied or speaking to his girlfriend’s dad. He is intelligent and not just a product of destiny (actually works on a machine to enhance his web’s strength and slinging mechanism). And, he is much more human, the black eyes & wounds on his face are proof enough that he gets hurt while fighting a much stronger enemy. Peter Parker as a character is strong in his hooded jersey and does not beg for sympathy from the viewer, but at times I felt he was too detached and lacked emotional content. At time it seemed he hardly cared about secrecy and was more like a show off which definitely increased his appeal.
Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy is a welcome change with her pretty face and subtle sarcasm; looks very promising and complements Andrew Garfield with great chemistry. Denis Leary as Captain Stacy gives an impactful performance as a police captain and father of an intelligent girl dating Spiderman. We have our very own Irrfan Khan as Rajit Ratha running Oscorp in a no nonsense role, but fails to make an impact and seem a little stiff in his dialogue delivery. The one handed Dr. Curt Connors played by Rhys Ifan is believable and cunning but as a villain The Lizard is just plain repulsive & huge (Green Goblin from the original can kick his ass anytime). Marc Webb’s (known for 500 Days of summer) direction is commendable, though I can’t help but feel that he was chosen to direct a web-slinging adventure more so because of his last name.
Another strong character which made a statement for me (more so because I am an architect) was the Oscorp Headquarter building with its ultra modern systems (like a really cool touch screen access control lock). Standing right in the heart of Manhattan (New York) the imposing building form signifies the power of a company like Oscorp. In the climax sequence it definitely seems to be the jewel on the crown of Manhattan’s skyline especially in the 3-D version when the camera moves over the needle of the building. That was one of the best city shots I have ever seen in a movie.
Though I still miss the original Spiderman, the current day superhero is more believable, intelligent, stronger at the same time human.
At the end of it my son asked me question which made me think. He said, “Papa why did the good doctor uncle become a bad lizard”, making me wonder that we all have good and bad sides to our personality. After all there are no bad people, just bad situations.