It’s hard to not look at everything involved with The Amazing Spider-man and not think that the movie was made just so Sony could retain the rights to one of the most popular comic book characters ever. However, this film is incredibly well done with a fantastic cast, and thankfully makes us forget about the lackluster Spider-man 3.
Full disclosure, I’m a huge Spider-man fan (as if you didn’t already know), so of course I’d be able to find something to like about this. But I was blown away by how much I enjoyed it. With a few small exceptions (which I’ll address later), The Amazing Spider-man serves as a successful reboot that sets in motion a lot of interesting plot devices for the eventual sequel. Yes, we get another take on the origin, but in all honesty, I personally didn’t think that it took up too much of the film. There are little tweaks to it here and there, but by and large, it covers the same beats that we all know. In fact, it even includes things that Sam Raimi left out of his films, namely the fate of Richard and Mary Parker.
Peter Parker is an outsider, a dweeb, nerd, etc. and this film showcases his awkwardness and love for science way more than Raimi’s films ever did. A lot of the success of Peter Parker’s character can be given to Andrew Garfield, who takes up the role famously played by Tobey Maguire in the previous trilogy. Garfield absolutely owns this role, capturing the angst and pain of losing his beloved Uncle Ben (played by Martin Sheen no less), but also delivering some extremely entertaining one liners as Spider-man, something that Raimi’s films seemed to forget about the wall-crawler. He’s FUNNY in this movie, especially when going toe to toe with the Lizard. You can tell Garfield is having a blast portraying a character that means a lot to him, and in my opinion, he blows Maguire out of the water.
The always-lovely Emma Stone is great as well. Looking like a John Romita drawing come to life, her scenes with Garfield are some of the best moments in the film, and you can feel the chemistry these two have (which probably explains why they’re also a couple in real life). From the two awkwardly talking in the halls of Mid Town High, to Peter sneaking into her room after being badly beaten by the Lizard, you get the sense that these two characters really care about each other, and we in turn start to care about them.
Rhys Ifans plays Curt Connors as a wise father figure for Peter at first, who quickly becomes a slave to his experiment (literally) by becoming the Lizard. Ifans certainly does a great job as Connors, but when he starts taking the Lizard serum, he immediately takes a turn to evil. While one can make the argument that his serum makes him mentally unhinged, it’s still a little too quick of a character turnaround. I’m still not a fan of the Lizard’s “goomba” look, but it’s something I’ve made peace with, and the Lizard is typically moving so fast that you don’t really notice his face all that much.
Speaking of moving fast, The Amazing Spider-man has some awesome action scenes between Spidey and The Lizard, my favorite being their battle at Mid Town High School. I love seeing Spidey take on his enemies and in new ways, especially when it came to using his web shooters (another fantastic addition that was missing from Raimi’s trilogy), and seeing him bounce from one surface to the other, too fast for his enemies to hit him, was a thrill for this lifelong Spidey fan.
While I loved this movie, it’s not entirely perfect. Like the Raimi/Maguire trilogy, Spider-man is constantly taking off his mask. I understand that they’ve hired an actor and want his face to be seen, but there were some times when I legitimately was wondering why the hell Peter Parker even bothered creating the mask if he was going to keep taking it off. There’s also a new spin on the Uncle Ben killer that, while used as a driving force for Peter becoming Spider-man, feels a little like change for the sake of change. Sally Field is also criminally underused as Aunt May, who seems to be more like an afterthought in this movie.
In many ways, The Amazing Spider-man has a lot in common with last year’s X-Men: First Class. Both are reboots coming after an unpopular entry in the film series, and both are films that no one seems too excited to see at first. While there’s a divide on the internet amongst fans regarding this film, I honestly think that this is on par with Spider-man 2, maybe even better. Garfield’s performance alone sells this movie, and fans of Spider-man comics will find more things done “right” here than not. We’ve still yet to have the “perfect Spider-man movie”, but Amazing Spider-man is very, very close, and I can’t wait to see who Spidey’s going to throw down with in the sequel (PLEASE be Electro!).
Four “THWIPS!” out of Four
* Also, there’s a short scene about halfway through the end credits, but nothing at the end.