My movie reviews are geared not so much for the movie critic or typical movie-goer. I aim for an evaluation of the movies morals and worldview, as well as how artistically these ideas are propounded. For content reviews, I recommend www.pluggedin.com (they are good at not leaving spoilers). I read their review or at least skim it before I watch any movie.
The Amazing Spiderman
Directed by Marc Webb and Starring Andrew Garfield
Summary: Peter Parker has a sad past. His parents disappeared when he was a kid, and now he feels just as alone at school. But he has not allowed this past to turn him to violence or anger. Instead he suffers the abuses of his schoolmates and sticks up for the weak and young at his science-school. He makes nerds like me proud while also rebuking the more socially reclusive for hiding away when they should stand out.
And then Peter Parker finds himself with the powers of a spider, in mind and body. And he has to decide what kind of person this incredibly strong, agile, and adept Peter Parker will be. What will he take for himself, and what will he give to others?
Setting: It's New York, ok? It's gonna be pretty awesome already. I am not a NYC native and have only been to that city once, but I must agree the feel projected by this NYC was much like that which I knew whilst visiting. I like how this movie does not fixate itself on cameoing all the famous NYC places, even seeming to prefer ignominious locations to the well-known sites. They even added their own tower!
Characters: The real part of any movie review, we gotta know just how well the actors act and the writers and write and directors direct. One word.
I don't watch B-grade films much. I watch films that become popular, which helps weed out the lessors. Somehow, I still managed to see the early 2000s Spiderman that would be classified as B-grade if the grades were curbed about 10 points. This one blows it away with acting. The characters of Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, even Dr. Connors are all very convincing, very much like real-life individuals. I could meet a Peter Parker or a Gwen Stacy at my own school, and can imagine having a professor like Dr. Connors. Even the secondary characters were fantastic. Quality receives my highest ratings.
Plot: The plot through which these characters are brought to life is less convincing. The events sometimes do not seem to flow in a logical progression, leaving us sometimes wanting to scream at the characters for their choices that are contrived for the plot. These events clearly out-class any cheap super-hero flick, but if you want to watch the movie in about two hours and not four there are sacrifices to make. Altogether, every individual scene served an excellent purpose. But sometimes I wonder why one scene follows another.
Worldview Evaluation:With great power, comes great responsibility. These lines must be copyrighted somewhere or else they would have been said, but they were tap-danced around systematically enough for us to be sure its what they meant. And it is beautifully done. Peter becomes Spiderman, a living super-hero. But he is still crackily voiced nerdy debate-team orphan Peter. They say that power corrupts, and it is true of Peter. The first intentional use of Peter's powers seems to be humiliating his high school rival. But Uncle Ben takes him to task on that. But Peter continues to terrorize the streets speaking angry words and forgetting his family responsibilities to his Aunt May. So the story is about Peter Parker growing up and learning to take responsibility.
A quick note on a sub-theme is needful. It is that Peter Parker did not ask for his powers, and yet he receives them. Frequently movie characters throughout the ages are heard to say "I didn't ask for this..." but Peter never questions it. He just has his powers, and for a long time acts like he earned it. He feels possessive of his abilities and uses them for sneaking around the city, beating up thugs, fighting giant lizards, the usual sort of super-hero things, but all with an ego. Peter Parker must learn that responsibility comes whether he asks for it or not. Peter's heroism comes when he revokes his "right" to be a normal person and accepts he must risk himself to be a true hero.
So Peter is a hero. But what about his quest? The villain of this movie has an evil plan that sounds repulsive to Christians and naturalists alike, as well as any other religion. We all see his actions and cringe. And yet, there is no real reason to with the espoused ideas of the movie. The glorious ending, so well filmed, rings a little hollow to the Christian because, while we agree that good has won out over evil, the movie gives us no basis for thinking so.
But the hero has won, hasn't he? Peter Parker has grown up, accepted responsibility. For land's sake he even brings eggs back to his Aunt after all this time. And for a few minutes it looks like he is ready to give away all that is good in his life and take on the role of savior of the city, nearly Christological. But the last line of the movie utterly revokes it, and left me wanting my two hours back to go write a story about a true hero, and not just a guy with spider-abilities. Maybe in a future film we will see Peter Parker grow more and I will be content, but at this point, that does not seem to be forthcoming.