Ten years after the original Spiderman launched in 2002 with Tobey Maguire Columbia Pictures/ Sony Entertainment spends $220 million or so on this third sequel, perhaps to bring a new face to the table in Andrew Garfield. A 37 year old Maguire would have been an interesting look at the wall-crawler all grown up, but the relatively unknown 29 year old Garfield does a fine job as the series progresses into this alternate universe.
Considered a “reboot” it is actually a different look at the Spider Man saga – a different ending for Uncle Ben, a different Spider-bite for Peter Parker and The Flying Nun as Aunt May. Perhaps Sony was being a bit cute with the obvious references that were bound to be made to Director Marc Webb’s name – the fellow behind music videos from Santana, Green Day, Blues Traveler, Weezer and others…and, of course, the return of the Flying Nun.
“I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” Sally Field once famously said, and though now-85 year old Rosemary Harris is the quintessential Aunt May (as perfect a casting as Patrick Stewart was as Professor X in The X-Men if you grew up on the comic books in the 1960s), this “What If?” version of Spiderman works with Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, Field as Aunt May and Denis Leary looking so much like William Dafoe from Spider-Man 1, replacing James Cromwell in the role of Captain Stacy and doing a good job . What If? , by the way, was a series of Marvel Comic books dealing with parallel universe stories …the Marvel heroes in different dimensions, if you will. And that’s what this film is. A look at the Spider-man series through a prism and getting a different perspective on things.
When the screening of the film concluded one day at the end of June a critic blurted out “Worse than Daredevil.” It could have been The Boston Globe’s Ty Burr who gave this film a dreadful review, calling it – and I quote – “Dumbed down, tarted up, and almost shockingly uninspired, it’s the worst superhero movie since “Green Lantern.”
Hardly the case. This is an exciting movie for the summer of 2012, Andrew Garfield playing the role with a spirit and enthusiasm that is captivating, the high-tech gloss a nice touch bringing “the Frankenstein effect” into yet another movie, man tampering with the forces of nature…as well as the unnatural.
Rhys Ifans is more diabolical than Dylan Baker would have been, Baker set to play the Lizard before the “reboot mania” started at Columbia/Sony. The Lizard looks like a dreaded step-son of Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla, and perhaps that was the intent. On a production budget of 130m Gozilla brought in 379m worldwide so a little Jurassic Park can go a long way these days.
Two hours and sixteen minutes is a very long movie. But it works. You Marvel Comics fans will enjoy your time in the theater on this one, exactly two months after Marvel’s The Avengers took the world by storm at two hours and twenty-two minutes. Back in the day we used to wait breathlessly for the Marvel comics “Annuals” during the summer, the thicker books with terrific stories. Forty years later blockbuster films have replaced those sagas and this one, The Amazing Spiderman, is a winner.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.