Super hero movies are definitely the big thing these days in Hollywood, especially with big blockbusters like The Avengers
gobbling up all sorts of cash (and with Dark Knight Rises
expected to do the same). Obviously Marvel wants to get Spider-Man into the mix again, especially to erase the bad taste of Spider-Man 3
, and thus we have the webslinger's reboot film The Amazing Spider-Man
. But, does it truly amazing or does it make us long for more from Sam Raimi?
The truth is that Amazing Spider-Man
is good and is honestly better than it should be. While it has flaws of its own it's a better Spidey movie than any one of Sam Raimi's three previous takes on the character, and Spidey himself feels a lot more true to the personality of the character that fans will recognize from basically every other form of Spider-Man media. The best way to say it is that Sam Raimi's Spider-Man
flicks were Spider-Man movies made for fans of Evil Dead
, Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man
is a film made for fans of Spider-Man.
The cheesy camp is gone and has been replaced with some good wit and a fast-tonged Peter Parker, played by Andrew Garfield. Garfield's portrayal of Parker/Spidey blows Tobey Maguire's performance completely out of the water. Peter's social awkwardness is believable, shows a wider variety of emotions, and his version of Parker actually seems to enjoy his time as Spider-Man whilst Maguire's version seemed to constantly be angst ridden and perpetually look like he was about to burst into tears.
In fact all of the casting in the movie is well done for the most part. Emma Stone does an excellent job as Gwen Stacy, and also comes across as a much less helpless character compared to Mary Jane Watson. Dennis Leary plays a good Captain Stacy even if his screen time is a tad limited. Rhys Ifans' Curt Conners chews up scenes especially when he begins his turn towards being a villain. And Martin Sheen and Sally Field make a good duo as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, to me they came across as more believable human beings whilst their Raimi counterparts were a little too good and pure for my taste.
The movie's plot is where some of the issues with the movie pop up. Specifically the movie is edited in a way that makes the pacing feel off at times, and makes me question if some potentially necessary stuff was left on the editor's table. Amazing Spider-Man
moves along at a pretty steady pace for the first 40 to 50 minutes of the film yet ironically things kind of hiccup a bit once we get around to the point where Peter actually transforms into Spider-Man. Pardon me, but I'm going to go into light spoiler alert territory
. The two points in the movie where I really felt it hit a couple of speed bumps were during Uncle Ben's death and Peter's transformation into Spider-Man shortly thereafter. Uncle Ben's death is simply rushed from start to finish; he goes from walking the street to shot to dead in a matter of moments. The emotional weight that's supposed to be felt is mostly lost because it never has a chance to actually sink in, and considering this is the event that is supposed to launch Peter into the next step in his life, skimping over it like this is definitely one of the weak points of the movie.
Similarly, Peter's transition from being a kid with powers to being a superhero is also a bit rushed. While other modern origin stories such as Iron Man
, Batman Begins
, and even the original Spider-Man
take their time slowly building the hero around the man, Amazing Spider-Man
doesn't really follow the same formula. The audience gets a brief montage of Parker doing a few things such as one quick sequence of him assembling his web shooters, another shot or two of him doing some acrobatics, and stopping one or two small crimes, and before we know it suddenly he's already in his full Spider-Man garb. Yes, technically his transformation into Spider-Man begins the moment he's bitten by the spider. However, the section of this transformation where he realizes what he needs to do is where it gets pretty rushed over and it doesn't feel like a fluid transition.
These two bumps in the road aren't enough to derail the entire movie, thankfully. Once Spidey becomes established we get a chance to watch the villain of the movie, Doc Conners/The Lizard, develop and become a threat to the city. And while doing so we get plenty of chances to see Spidey do some pretty heroic acts and remind us as an audience why Spider-Man is such an awesome hero in the first place. Spidey even gives us a few chances to smile and laugh before he eventually has to buckle down for his final showdown against The Lizard. And while I won't give it away, The Lizard's big evil plot is so comic bookish and super-villainy that I couldn't help but love it, because it just felt appropriate.
Admittedly the biggest problem with Amazing Spider-Man
is something that really isn't a problem of the movie itself. That one big problem is that Spidey's origin didn't need to be retold in the first place. Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man
is only 10 years old and is still very fresh in people's memory thanks to both of its sequels and its constant presence on cable television. Along with that, Spider-Man is one of the few comic book characters who's origin is already widely known by the general public (something only Batman and Superman probably share). Spidey's reboot could have been better served by simply having the web-head already established, or by doing what Incredible Hulk
did and telling a cliff-noted origin during the opening credits. If you come into Amazing Spider-Man
with a decent working knowledge of how Spidey's origin works, then little of this movie is going to surprise you at all. And in order to make itself stand-out in any way, Amazing
ends up changing a few things here and there simply for the sake of being able to say its different even if it has little to no benefit to the story. Examples such as making Peter's father indirectly responsible for Pete getting spider-powers, changing up how Uncle Ben's murderer comes around, or that Pete himself doesn't actually make the web fluid used in his cartridges (they're just made by Oscorp). His costume is even changed up a bit simply for the sake of going “Hey, I’m different”. Yes, I know, complaining about the costume is fickle but that stupid looking 90's era styled spider-emblem on his back bugs the crap out of me.
Even with a couple of bumps in the road and a few fickle complaints here and there, The Amazing Spider-Man
is a very entertaining movie. It's also one of the best 3D movies I have personally experienced yet. It's extremely refreshing to see a good new piece of Spidey entertainment especially with the bad taste of Spider-Man 3
still lingering as well as the loss of Spectacular Spider-Man
Score: Friendly Neighborhood out of 10