Back in the early ’90s, the Philippines suffered from long regular power failures. I used to finish my school assignments before night creeps in because working with just candlelight is never a good idea. Since watching television is out of the question, one becomes creative when it comes to entertainment. One of the more morbid nocturnal diversions I do before is observe the food chain battles of creepy crawlies. Lizard trumps insects. Spider trumps insects. Lizard versus spider is the ultimate do-or-die battle. There is indeed a tinge of truth in The Amazing Spider-Man because lizards and spiders are quite the enemies. There is also a tinge of truth that the new Spider-Man is good.
Tobey Maguire had a good run as the friendly neighborhood masked hero but the last installment is a mediocre effort. The latest Marc Webb-directed Spider-Man brought back the elements the general audience loved: the bullied teenager discovering his powers for the first time; the maverick scientist pushing the boundaries of his field accidentally transforming himself into a villain and of course, lots of swinging action over the Big Apple. Much is expected of the new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield. Questions whether a Brit can pull off the quintessential New Yorker superhero arose. So Garfield sported a different accent, swung and passed with flying colors – in spite of being probably the skinniest superhero of all-time. It also helps he is paired with real-life sweetheart Emma Stone. As Gwen Stacy, the in-demand actress lent her throaty voice, her impeccable comedic timing, and her undeniable screen charm. Speaking of support, Garfield cannot have a better one in Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, Sally Field as Aunt May, and Dennis Leary as Captain George Stacy. Sheen and Field looked like a couple of adults who lived through and survived the crazy 1970s. Leary – possessing innate bad-as*ery – made his one-on-one shotgun-against-mutant lizard believable. Like he made it look like he can take down the goddamn giant reptile with nothing but bullets.
As important as Spider-Man is the villain and I think Rhys Ifans did a splendid job as The Lizard. First, he is British. Welsh really, but still the actors across the pond are surefire hits as villains. Second, he can combine over-all goodness and simmering menace effortlessly. The Lizard looks retro, a throwback to Godzilla compared to the tech-sleek Green Goblin.
The throwback concept does not end in the monster. Consider the fight scene aboard the train right after the effects of the spider bite manifested. Peter Parker is at his classic Jackie Chan best doing one slapstick stunt after another. As he was swinging across the metro, he screamed, “I’m swinging here” to a passing vehicle reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy. But if there is one scene not to be missed, it is that one where Spider-Man, hobbled with a leg injury, received assistance from a group of construction workers. As he swings from one crane machine to another, one cannot help but look for a crowd fist-pumping “U-S-A! U-S-A!” Good scene.
The Amazing Spider-Man has its weaknesses, the music tends to be distracting and at times contribute to the predictability of scenes. I also have to call-out slip-ups. We all know Garfield has several stand-ins for his stunts but careful editing next time will be most welcome. There are parts where one can almost discern the face of the stunt doubles. I say next time because a franchise is already assured as an end-of-credits clip portends another film installment. Cameo slut Stan Lee needs to add another data in his Internet Movie Database account.