I remember when “The Amazing Spider-Man” came out, I was 11 and it was the first Spider-Man film I saw in theaters. 

Having grown up a Spider-Man fan, I realized that the best part about being a Spider-Man fan is by film standards, you are never limited to one interpretation of the character. There are so many different interpretations that no one has one definitive answer for who the best Spider-Man is. People are living through the wonders of film by watching Spider-Man now. This interpretive look at Spider-Man was made possible by “The Amazing Spider-Man”. 

Released in 2012, “The Amazing Spider-Man” was directed by Marc Webb with a screenplay by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary and Martin Sheen.

Garfield plays Peter Parker, a kind, science-loving high school senior who has trouble fitting in. However, Peter’s life changes after research of his parents leads him to a laboratory where he is bitten by a radioactive super spider. Now Peter has powers like super strength, senses and wall climbing. Over time, Peter learns to use his powers to help others, becomes a hero and has to save New York from the lizard. 

I loved this film when I first saw it. While I still love this picture, I saw more evident flaws in it as I got older and saw more Spider-Man films.

One flaw is that the police officers in this film are too stereotypical. While Denis Leary is a good actor, Captain George Stacy is completely incompetent and not at all like his comic counterpart. While Captain Stacy was skeptical of Spider-Man in the comics, he ultimately does support him and recognizes the good Spider-Man does. In the film, a good portion of it is spent with him being against Spider-Man and going after him for crimes the Lizard was responsible for. While there are many stereotypical police officers in comics, having an ally in the police force early on would have made Peter’s impact on New York even stronger. 

The biggest issue with the film is that there is too much going on story-wise. The story, overall, is about Peter receiving powers, learning to be responsible and becoming a hero. However, there is also a subplot about Peter’s parents and their connection to the Lizard and the corrupt company Oscorp. I view this plotline as an unnecessary detour that takes away from Peter’s journey to becoming a hero. 

In addition, having Peter’s parents play such a prominent role takes too much of the focus away from Uncle Ben and Aunt May, who are supposed to be Peter’s true mentors. If there was a better balance between these four characters, the parents would have been a great addition to this film. 

Also due to the fixation on Peter’s parents, it takes at least an hour for Peter to become spider-man. If the story had taken less time exploring this subplot, viewers would have had more time to get to know the film’s titular character. 

While “The Amazing Spider-Man” has flaws, they do not overshadow the film’s strengths. One excellent part of this film is the music. James Horner creates an exemplary score for this film, one that makes viewers feel like a hero. A great example is the scene where Peter is injured and several cranes come to assist him in swinging to Oscorp to stop the Lizard. Just from the music, you feel the inspirational vibes of a hero continuing through pain to try and save the day. In every scene, the music works to assist Peter in his heroic journey. 

The entire film has the feel of a comic book. The editing, costumes, music and cinematography work to bridge the gap between film and comic. As Spider-Man swings through the air, there are shots from various points of view showing Peter grasping the webs.

What makes the film relatable is what Andrew Garfield brings to Peter. I think many people can connect with Peter’s struggle to fit in at high school.  We can also connect with his journey of finding that he has more people that have his back than he thinks.

Additionally, all of us can connect as well to Peter’s journey towards maturity. We have all been through times of immaturity and impulsive thinking and learning from these experiences to be more responsible and selfless with what we can offer the world. Garfield understands every aspect of Peter’s journey portraying him as nerdy, kind and endlessly innovative. As a result, viewers have a character that they can see themselves in.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” might be a bit too long and, at times, strays too far into subplots. However, it is still a good film with an excellent blend of the comic and reality. The music is spectacular and the character work is, for the most part, outstanding, having been assisted by Garfield who makes the performance his own.

Best of all, this film understands that Spider-Man is a character who teaches people to be selfless, to embrace themselves and to help others in their own unique way. All of this makes this second Spider-Man incarnation one to swing to for a viewing.

 

Jake Zamansky can be contacted at

jzamansky@kscequinox.com

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