Even if Garfield were as uninspiring as Brandon Routh’s Superman, the design of the hero himself feels more true to the comics, adding an additional layer of nostalgia to the film. Parker’s costume and lanky looks are more akin to the “Ultimate Spider-Man” comics rather than the original series. In addition, the film finally got it right with the webs being devices made by Parker and not actual powers. The way Spider-Man crawls and swings through the city feels less powerful, but more fluid and acrobatic; more insect than human, as proper comic book lore depicted the hero. The webs themselves even felt more spider-like, with Garfield firing off rapid machine-gun level onslaughts of the synthetic fibers as he slid and leaped around in head-spinning acrobatics.
Although she still isn’t Spider-Man’s first real love interest — one day, Betty Brant, one day — Emma Stone’s strong, smart, nerdy-sexy Stacy is much more appealing than Kirsten Dunst’s constant damsel in distress Mary Jane Watson. Her sprightly quips and ordinary-girl heroism create a more likeable character, who proves that she can hold her own — at least until a giant reptile is inches from her face. Stone isn’t overly ballsy though, as the character is balanced with a soft, daddy’s girl side as she playfully interacts with her father, Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary).
The overall tone of the film feels more mature, even somewhat darker, than the Raimi series. Although Webb stays true to certain aspects of the comic, others are forgone for a modern twist to the series — although it pains my comic-geek side that the famous “With great power, comes great responsibility” line is rephrased. The initial vendetta Parker goes on to find his uncle’s killer, combined with his gradual, cosmetic transformation into the familiar red and blue highlights the character’s emotional growth as he becomes more than just a vigilante and into a hero to whom the city can look up.
Unfortunately, the movie is not without a few broken strands in the otherwise stellar, tightly-knit spiderweb. While Rhys Ifans himself plays a decent Dr. Curt Connors, the Lizard himself lacked the animalistic terror that the comics conveyed. Webb’s point of making the villain appear more humanoid ended up making the character less terrifying, as a human face on a lizard body lacks the conviction of the razor-blade toothed snout from the comics.
However, that’s getting nitpicky, as the Lizard still comes out on top as one of the better Spider-Man movie villains (It’s hard to beat Alfred Molina’s spot-on Doc Ock performance.). Nuances aside, “The Amazing Spider-Man” proves that it can spin a web of any size and catch thieves just like flies, holding its own as a step in the right direction for the web-head’s movie career.
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