I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman

In the beginning of this reboot of the super hero franchise, we see a young Peter Parker discovering that his house has been broken into.  Specifically, someone has ransacked his father's (Campbell Scott) office.  Peter is left to stay with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), while his parents leave town under mysterious circumstances.  Years go by, and we learn that Peter (Andrew Garfield) has been living with his aunt and uncle permanently.  His parents died in a plane crash.

While cleaning out the flooded basement in the house, Peter finds a briefcase that belonged to his dad.  The information inside -- a formula his dad was working on -- leads him to a former colleague of his father named Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).  Peter is unaware that Dr. Connors is doing some under-the-table work involving genetics.  While at the scientific corporation where Dr. Connors works, Peter snoops around in an off-limits area.  Peter is bitten by a spider being used in an experiment, and soon afterwards, the teenager finds he has some pretty amazing powers. 

Those powers are seriously put to work after Uncle Ben is killed on the street by a store robber.  Peter turns vigilante in an attempt to find the culprit, but the police don't appreciate the interference.  Dr. Connors dangerous experimentations, and the fact that Peter's love interest, Gwen (Emma Stone) is the daughter of a cop (Dennis Leary), add to the super hero's problems. 

I didn't go in with high expectations, having been spoiled by the first couple modern Spiderman movies starring Tobey MacGuire (as well as the old 1967 Saturday morning cartoon show).  But this wasn't bad because it focused more on the characters and their motivations as opposed to derring-do and special effects.  The early scenes where it's clear that Gwen and Peter like each other but are awkward around each other felt real.  I liked that Uncle Ben and Aunt May were portrayed as regular folks, which is very close to how those characters were done in the comic books. 

What I had a little problem with was that Peter Parker's status was raised a little bit among his peers.  In the comic books, what makes Spiderman appealing is that Peter Parker is a geeky, somewhat socially challenged guy underneath the costume.  Most can relate to Peter being out-of-step and picked on by everybody.  Making him one of the cool kids as the storyline went along didn't feel right. 

There's a funny cameo involving Stan "The Man" Lee, the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, as well as the co-creator of the Spideman character.  C. Thomas Howell, who starred in The Outsiders (1983), was unrecognizable in a small role.

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