As the honorary “Geeky Guy” of this blog, it falls to me to give a male perspective on this new entry to the Spider-Man canon. Speaking as a fan of ol’ Web-Head himself, I was very impressed by this film.
With a storyline that takes its cue more from the “Ultimate Spider-Man” version as devised by Brian Bendis, as opposed to the original source material created way back when which was the core inspiration for Sam Raimi’s take on the origin story, this version of Spider-Man is both fresh and contemporary for a 2012 audience. The big plus point of this script is that it doesn’t give all the presents in one go and there is a sense of a “long game” going on at several layers of the script.
On the acting front, I have to start with Andrew Garfield in the twin roles of Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Now, I have to say that I did like Tobey Maguire’s performance in the first two Raimi Spider-Man films, but they went too far on the guilt angle especially in the third Raimi film. Garfield is able to portray the humanity of Peter Parker whilst meshing it with the quiet geeky outsider and the everyday teen that is Parker and the jokey adventurer that is Spider-Man. There is guilt in the role, but it serves to act as a catalyst to Peter’s decision to become his web-slinging alter ego as opposed to a weight to hang around the character’s neck.
Emma Stone is well suited to the role of Gwen Stacey. Unlike Kirsten Dunst, who gave great performances as MJ, Ms Stone is given more to do with the role of Gwen. She is able to confront Garfield in the role of Peter, but also is Parker’s source of strength – not just as Peter but as Spider-Man too. She also gives Gwen a sense of real independence, gets some great action scenes in the film and doesn’t come across as the “damsel tied to the railway tracks”.
The origin story can’t be spoken of unless you talk about Uncle Ben and Aunt May, portrayed on this occasion by Martin Sheen and Sally Field. It’s an over-used phrase that actors are born to play certain roles, but Sheen and Field were born, through their respective acting careers, to portray Ben and May Parker. Martin Sheen gives Uncle Ben validity as a father figure to Peter by making jokes at his expense, confronting him when he’s been irresponsible and dispensing some important lessons to the character. Sally Field gives a more youthful dynamic to the role of Aunt May, still being concerned about Peter as with previous incarnations of the role, but there are some acting choices that come through Ms Field’s performance which suggest a bigger role in any future sequel.
Rhys Ifans gives a suitably tragic performance in the role of Curt Connors/The Lizard. As with Willem Dafoe’s performance of Norman Osborn in the original Raimi Spider-Man film, Ifans portrays Connors as a man whose work leads him to take desperate measures and, like Osborn, the character shares a “father/son” style bond with Peter that has to be sacrificed in some respects if he is to achieve his objectives.
The final acting performance I want to comment on is Denis Leary in the role of Captain Stacey. Right from his first scene with Peter, the character is single-minded in his aim to bring Spider-Man to some sort of justice. In addition to this, he gives a credible performance as a hard working “Ordinary Joe” who simply wants to do the right thing and protect his family.
Marc Webb’s direction is nothing short of beautiful and the special effects employed throughout make best use of the 3D vision for this film as you see Spidey swing his way through the streets of New York.
It’s a great tribute to one of Marvel’s most enduring characters and I’m glad that the franchise has been re-energised with this new take on the Spider-Man mythos.