The Amazing Spider-Man

There’s a solid argument to be made that this is the best “Spider-Man” movie we’ve gotten yet.

I’m not sure that I’m going to be the guy to make it… but it’s immediately obvious to me that the potential is there. I can totally see it.

Spider-Man of the “Amazing” variety has a more serious tone, a great cast, and some fantastic fight scenes. It’s a first-rate summer blockbuster, a top-notch superhero movie, and well worth your ticket dollars and a trip to the theatre.

This incarnation of Spider-Man begins with Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) as a young boy being brought to stay with Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) by his parents, due to the dangerous nature of the research that his father has been doing. Their home had recently been burglarized in an attempt to steal his work, so it’s decided that Peter would be safest at his Aunt and Uncle’s. Of course, tragedy soon befalls his parents, and Peter winds up living with Ben and May permanently and being raised by them.

Flash forward to the high school years, and Peter is a super intelligent, but scrawny teenager with a great sense of right and wrong, but lacking the muscle to stand up for himself. When he discovers some of his father’s work, it leads him to Oscorp and Dr Curt Connors. Connors worked with his father trying to solve scientific issues related to cross species genetics. If humans could be given the regenerative capabilities that lizards have, for example, then amputees like Connors himself could regrow limbs.

While at Oscorp, however, Parker is bitten by a genetically modified spider. Within hours, he’s manifesting super powers akin to being a human spider. A Spider-Man.

If all of this sounds a bit familiar, it’s because it is. And to me, that’s one of the major (yet few) drawbacks to “Amazing Spider-Man”. A great deal of time in the film is spent on the origin story, and since the Raimi “Spider-Man” was a mere ten years ago, the origin story doesn’t feel that original. Yes, they put their own spin on things, yes, different actors and actresses are playing the parts, but the broad strokes are still the same: Peter Parker is still an awkward teen, he gets bit by a spider and gains super powers, he spends time sneaking off to develop them, his new strength allows him to stand up to the school bully, his new confidence attracts the attractive girlfriend, Uncle Ben meets with tragic consequences, and a mad-scientist from Oscorp who’s been transformed into a monster threatens the city.

The movie is able to overcome the familiarity with the highest quality production values and a much more serious tone. This is the “darker, edgier” Spider-Man. Not that there aren’t humor beats, there are. But over the long haul, “The Amazing Spider-Man” feels far more serious than its predecessors. Peter pays a price for his choice to be Spider-Man, both emotionally and physically, and the movie seems to spend more time there than prior incarnations chose to.

But it’s also an extremely well made and well acted film. The cast is great. Garfield is an excellent new Peter Parker, and Emma Stone has never looked lovelier than she does as Gwen Stacy. Denis Leary is a nice addition as Captain Stacy, her father, and the cop in charge of all things Spider-Man. Martin Sheen is always welcome in any movie, as far as I’m concerned, and no one is better at projecting empathy than Sally Field. And Rhys Ifans generates enough audience sympathy to make for a well-rounded villain. Together they all give “The Amazing Spider-Man” a high calibre feel to its dramatic segments. This is a cast of heavy hitters, and they help lend the concept - which could be very silly when you think about it – gravitas.

They’re supported by some great, great special effects work and some incredible fight choreography. This Spider-Man features the best fight scenes the character has ever had. He twists and flips and slides and uses his webbing in imaginative ways. It’s the closest thing to how Spider-Man actually fights in the comics that the big screen has ever seen. Of course, the movie also fills its quota of web swinging sequences, and the 3D helps them shine like they never have before.

The biggest knock I had on the movie (aside from the too much “familiar ground” aspect) was the Lizard. As Curt Connors, he was fine. Ifans was great, and his desire to be made whole again was understandable. It made for a well motivated and well set-up adversary. Once he became the Lizard, however, the character design and some of the CGI work was a bit disappointing. He looked more than a little goofy to me on a couple of occasions, and lets just say that his larger “plot” (the one that took his threat to a city-wide level) was poorly conceived.

Still, I had no difficulties in overcoming that as an obstacle to enjoying the movie. It may be a story that’s been told before, but they do tell it very well. Garfield is excellent in the central role, and it will be fun to watch him put his stamp on the character as the inevitable franchise unfolds. There’s tons of action, but it’s supported well by a solid framework of well written characters and dramatic elements. Fans of the character will not be disappointed, nor will fans of movies.

A

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87 thoughts on “The Amazing Spider-Man

  1. I’m glad I’m seeing positive reviews of this all over the place… I don’t know when I’ll be able to see it (car is temporarily out of service), but hopefully I’ll get to it before it’s out of the theatre.

    • Well, I hope you do. It’s definitely worthy of the big screen.

      I think if I could “Prep” anyone, I’d advise you to downplay your expectations for “The Lizard” and then you wont be disappointed. There are other nitpicks here and there, but on the whole its really really solid, buddy. No doubt.

  2. I really enjoyed this movie. I think it’s definitely better than the 1st and 3rd Raimi movies, but I think that Spider-Man 2 is still better. We’ll have to wait to see where the next one goes. I think origin stories are a little bit easier to make because a lot of the major plot points are already laid out and you just have to worry about being creative. So if this cast and crew can pull it off again, I’ll be really happy.

    Also, this has to be Stan Lee’s best cameo, don’t you think?

    • Yeah, LOL Stan’s appearance was pretty funny, there’s no question!

      It would come down to this or Spider-Man 2. That’s where I’m at, too. I would need to rewatch 2 to be 100% sure of my stance, but yeah, I’m leaning that way. I’ll definitely say that Doc Ock’s title of “Best Spidey Villain” on the big screen is still completely safe. No doubt about that! I think there was a lot here to make an argument for, though. The fight scenes were really well done, the movie has a weightier tone (an argument COULD be made against that too, though) and the cast is all completely top notch. It’s close, I guess, for me.

      Kind of nice just to have that in play, though! I wasn’t counting on a potential new favorite Spider-Man movie. It’s nice to even have that calibre of movie!

  3. “Peter pays a price for his choice to be Spider-Man, both emotionally and physically…”

    I love it and hate it when other writers note details I didn’t. Nice catch.

    I think the key here is to think about how well told an origin story this is. On the one hand, we need to remember not every origin story is well told (DAREDEVIL, PUNISHER, GREEN LANTERN, etc). So telling a good one is step one – and in this case, most agree that it’s a subtler take on the origin story Raimi told.

    Once that’s done, the storyteller needs to leave the narrative somewhere to go, which this film did very well too (no villains killed!)

    So yes, I’m with you that everything feels familiar, but I won’t mark that as a knock against the film. If anything, it should go in the film’s favour that it stepped up to the mic to sing a song we all know, and sung it so very well.

    Great post sir.

    • Thanks Ryan. That’s a good way of putting it, that they sang a song we know but they sang it well. It’s true.

      This was a well told origin story, actually, the origin phase of the movie was probably the strongest. I understood why The Lizard attacked the bridge, but a lot of it after that lost me a little as to the whys… The first half of the movie was free of any of that, even if it was a well worn path of a story.

      I liked it a lot though, in spite of the few points I had to check off against it here or there. I thought it was really solid – the fight scenes were great. THAT’S why fighting Spider-Man would be so hard! You cant get your hands on him!! :D

  4. Get the fix or cold turkey? I know the whole, and I mean entire, story here without having seen the movie! It gets to the point, all the CGI and 3D special effects, of being smack for the junkie! Obviously they’re trying to capitalize on the new dark, dark Batman. What next, have Superman wear a mask and talk in a deep whiskey rasp! Withdrawal symptoms or not, I’m going Cold Turkey on this one!

    • Ok. You do that. LOL.

      Unfortunately, yes. From what I heard, “Man of Steel” is going to be “Dark and Edgy” too. sigh….

      In fairness, I do need to state that “Amazing Spider-Man” DOES offer more than just the origin retelling, but yes… there’s a number of similarities to what you already know/have seen.

  5. Great review! I am actually of the opinion that the first 3 helped this one in allowing it to skip quite a bit of the origin setup (already well known) and focus more on the character development.

    More thoughts on that later….(at work rt now)…but glad to know you loved it!

    • Ok. Looking forward to those.

      But… I dont think I can agree on that origin story stance… What did they “Skip”? They went over every inch of that element of the story… I bet if someone did an infographic of a run time comparison T? I bet this flick spends just as much time on the “origin” portion as Raimi’s “Spider-Man” did. Tellin’ you.

      I definitely DID like it though, absolutely. It was a great time at the movies, man. That’s what you’re looking for, you know?

  6. I’d liked to see it…not sure I will in the theater (would rather save my money for Dark Knight Rises.) Had the same reservations that you noted in the review about it being too soon and how much “reenactment” will be in this movie. I liked Tobey MacGuire’s spiderman and have never felt the excited feeling to see a darker role. But I never delved into the comics either, so I’m not certain if this role is closer to the comics or Stan Lee’s intent. But I will enjoy seeing Spiderman’s origin story with his parents that we didn’t get to see in the Raimi era. That’s about it….I’m not saying I won’t be wowed with the effects and fights (I know I will,) but for some reason I’m not jumping at the chance to go see it opening weekend.

    Good review as ALWAYS, Fogs.

    • :D Thanks Jay.

      Hey, you know? It’s not THAT dark. It is a lot more serious, but its not like a depressing flick now or something, suddenly. It’s still Spider-Man, it’s still a lot of fun. There’s just not as much silliness/cheese moments scattered throughout.

      There was a bit of an “Origin Story Fatigue” going on for me, I cant deny it – and I like the Raimi flicks (well the first two at least) a lot, too. But this is still highly recommendable. It’s a really good movie… for when you chose to get to it. :D

  7. Very much agree with your review. While I don’t think it was totally necessary for their to be a reboot of this franchise, I’m now glad it was done. I think this might be my favourite Spidey film.

    Totally agree with you about the familiarity in the beginning. I did like the little bits hey changed, especially how they reworded the famous ‘with great power…’ quote, and made it more relatable.

    • I dunno… I kind of missed that line! Keep waiting for him to say it! :D

      I still dont think the reboot was necessary, but it might have been unavoidable… there’s just too much money up for grabs, you know?

      I still think Spidey 2 is my fave, but it is going to bear some examination… for me, everything keys off of the villain so much, and the Lizard, well…

      • I was worried when Connors would actually become Lizard and it did bring back memories of Super Mario Bros… still, I think I could forgive it a bit more than you did.

        I liked that they didn’t explicitly say, “with great power”, it felt more realistic when Uncle Ben was just talking to Peter and letting him know that we all have our responsibilities and it’s nothing to do with having “great power”. More the fact that if we can do something, we should. I definitely prefer that message.

  8. After watching all the trailers its a, (sigh,) ‘I cant be bothered, been there done that burned out Next,’ sort of thing. Unless you are Nolan and doing something compelling with comics its all blurred-together-same-old-superhero-crap. It hardly qualifies as decent mindless popcorn fare anymore.

    As for Spiderman, bah dont make me laugh, Raimi/Mcguire is the standard that the new one isnt going to rise to. I will bide my time for Darknight Rises.

    • WOW! LOL. BOLD statements prior to actually SEEING the movie! :D I’m telling you Ric, this new one is pretty good. It really is!

      If you’re burnt out on Superhero stuff though, there’s nothing really here that’s going to refresh that perception. Its very much just the “more realistic approach” to super hero storytelling, and at this point, that’s not new….

  9. considering the ‘familiar ground’ and ‘lizard’ dislikes maybe the filmmakers knew that these things would be problecms so they got them out of the way soon!

    • Front loaded the franchise with the requisite origin crap and then used a b list villain?

      LOL… that would be DIRECTLY taking a page from the Batman Begins playbook. :D They just might have!!

  10. Glad to here you liked it. I’ve been supportive of this remake for a long time. To be honest, I haven’t been too fond of any of the Spider-Man films. Spider-Man 2 is the best that I’ve seen, and even it’s loaded with problems.

    I’m hoping The Amazing Spider-Man can be the first Spidey film I can call good.

    • Huh. Well, I wouldnt call the first two Spider-Man films perfect, by any means, but I did like them a LOT and I can see why they’re so beloved.

      “I’m hoping The Amazing Spider-Man can be the first Spidey film I can call good.”

      You’ve got a good shot… especially if you’re looking to get beyond the first ones. If you WANT to see the story retold, you’ll probably really enjoy it. As long as the Lizard doesn’t wind up a deal breaker for you, you should be good to go!

    • Other positive reviews are out there… EW.Com gave it an A- I think, Ryan McNeil was enthusiastic about it… theyre around. :)

      It’s an easy recommendation to make, especially if you’re going to wait to check it out at home… pretty much cant go wrong I think.

  11. Respectfully, I couldn’t disagree more: nothing new here, neither dark nor edgy as you say, a cartoonish villain and tired retread. Thank goodness BATMAN will come and save the day soon! I gave it a C, skip it!

    • It’s cool, that’s how these things go, I’m sure you know that yourself by now. LOL.

      Hey at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s certainly not winning everyone over. There’s no doubt about that! I liked it a lot though…

      In spite of the “Cartoonish villain” which, certainly, is a point that I would have to cede.

      • Were you a fan of Molina as Dr. Ock? I thought SPIDERMAN 2 had a powerful villain driven by grief. I wonder what one of your readers meant by Maguire’s “weird mouth”? I don’t notice such things, unless of course in the case of Jeff Bridges who chews his tongue.

      • Yeah, I loved Molina as Doc Ock. Definitely!

        And uh, LOL. I dont know what they meant with that one, either. I’d be lying if I said I wasnt going to keep an eye out for it the next time I watch one of the Spider-Man movies though! LOL

  12. Looking forward to this one Dan. But Casey and I were talking about this flick and the upcoming Batman flick and both our impressions were, just another Spider-Man or Batman flick. The theme is starting to get old. But I have hopes for it. I’m on vacation next week and I’ll probably catch it then.

    • You’ll like it. I can totally hear where you’re coming from about the superhero movies though. I’m surprised audiences arent rejecting them left and right.

      Be prepared for wave two though. After the success of the Avengers, man? Studios are going to be tripping over themselves to get new stuff into theatres.

      • I (and other comic book geeks like myself, I think) like to think that superheroes are the new Westerns. Remember that time in the 50′s and 60′s when it seemed like every single movie was about a cowboy? Then the idea eventually flamed out and Westerns all of the sudden became a rare commodity. Superhero movies are probably going to run the same trajectory; we’re just enjoying them while they’re here, and holding our breath from when it all comes to an end.

        Though that’s getting harder and harder to predict. When Spider-Man (Raimi original) came out, the general thought was, “Well, that’s the last major superhero not to get a movie. It’s all downhill from here!” I mean, who in the world knows who Iron Man is? Really? That’s kind of scraping the bottom of the battle, dont you think?

        But then that movie came out, and it was something of a sleeper hit. No one … NO ONE … imagined it was the cornerstone for a whole Avengers franchise. Not when every other movie followed a familiar One hero/one-to-two villain pattern.

        I think that, stretching out to Tim Burton’s Batman, we’re more like in the 5th or 6th wave of superhero movies. Even as a fan, I’m a little fatigued, but also surprised that audiences haven’t completely tired of it yet. I guess it’s because expectations keep getting shattered and directors keep finding new ways of keeping interest alive.

      • I guess its more about Spider-Man and Batman. Not so much about super hero. The Avengers was nice because it hasn’t been done before. Like when the last Superman movie came out, I didn’t even bother going to see it at the theater. But I’m sure I’ll enjoy this Spider-man.

      • Santo, that’s an excellent comparison, my masked friend.

        Superhero movies ARE today’s Westerns, no doubt. You’re right, I’ve thought audiences had tired of them at several points, but then “The Dark Knight” proved they could still be big, and then “The Avengers”, and probably “TDKR” in a few weeks…

        This is a genre that shows no sign of abating.

        I’m glad for that for the most part… but I can also see where Nelson is coming from that too many movies about a single hero can lead to fatigue of that charcater. We’ll see how this one fares at the B.O. this week, it sure got off to a good start!

    • Yeahhhhh… I cant fully support the Lizard, you know? In fight scenes he was fine, but any time they had it talk, it was just a silly ass looking thing, you know?

      But I cant let that spoil the rest of the movie, which I thought was fantastic Squasher. I really did enjoy it. :D

  13. I’m a big fan of the comics, saw the prior movies, and will probably see this one soon, but I would like to know before I go see it, if it needs to be seen in 3D. You mention great fight scenes and special effects, does the movie do better because of the 3D or will it translate just as well if I don’t see it in 3D? Great reveiw!

    • Well… I dont know if anything ever NEEDS to be seen in 3D. But does the 3D work here? Yeah, it was good. Unlike a lot of other movies, it actually added something to the experience for me.

      Take that for what it is I guess. I enjoyed the 3d here, for sure.

      Let me know what you think when you see it, buddy :D It was pretty good.

    • LOL! I’m betting on the part that loves comic book movies…

      Is the “principle” due to being protective over Raimi’s trilogy? I look at it this way, Spider-Man 3 was an atrocity, and the cast had a good run with those characters… they could have given the world a little breather in between franchise takes, but… hey. Lots of money at stake, man.

      They did well with it, you’ll enjoy it.

      • I’m not a staunch supporter of the Raimi movies I just think it’s silly for Sony to release another origin story for Spidey 10 years after the last one. If they don’t want to lose the rights to the franchise then they should at least do something new.

        But in the end it will probably be futile because the comic book nerd in me will win, you’re right

  14. An A? Fogs, I think you are far too generous with your grading system. If this is an A, then what would you rank Casablanca? Or Transformers 2?

    • I know. I’m a shameless whore. I really am :D How do I sleep?

      Meanwhile, Casablanca would be an A++ because its an all time classic and I wouldnt blink if someone said it was their favorite movie of all time.

      Transformers 2 would be an F because it sucked ass.

      Hey, man, if 2012 ended right now, this is a top ten movie for me. Because its probably in my top five of 2012 so far. Granted I still havent seen Moonrise Kingdom, but…

  15. Interesting, most of the press I’ve been reading about this has been resoundingly negative and has thus far confirmed my biggest quibbles with what this appears to be (I haven’t seen it yet), i.e. a shameless, poorly timed cash-in with a desperate attempt to make the franchise “darker” like Nolan’s Batman, in the ludicrous hope that that strategy alone will reap a billion dollar box-office return.

    Also, Spiderman 2 is simply one of the greatest superhero films ever made. I really fail to see the point of this (there was no need for another origin story).

    • Well, there are two big things that (in fairness I did note) that can easily absolutely derail people here Dave.

      The fact that it’s a reboot so close to the original is one, the Lizard is another.

      I was able to get past both, surprisingly easily.

      The lizard is just… Not great, so that’s a case of me forgiving it and getting past it.

      But the origin is a different deal. Even though it was recently told, they still tell it well here. So… How do I factor that fatigue in? Downgrade it? I don’t know, man. Lots of stories get retold, and lots of movies get made just for the heaps of cash out there… Not all of them are as solid as this one.

      There’s some other glowing reviews out there too… I’ve seen enough to not feel out on an island on it.

      It’s fair to say though, if you’re of that mind about it? I’d steer clear. They spend a lot of time retelling the origin, and it’s not substantially different from the origin youve already seen.

  16. Well, this new Spider-Man is doing great at the box office. It’s really hard to screw up such a big brand, although it can and has been done. I think everyone loves a good origin story, maybe even more than an involved story with intricate plot points. 10 years may seem like a blink of an eye but it is ages ago for today’s teen. Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst are so out, they were no longer into it. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are the answer to a new generation.

    Comic-Con is less than a week away! Whoa!!

    • I know, I’m really really psyched. I take it you’re going? I know I am. Live blogging all week!

      I like your convention center Gravatar! :D

      You’re right about this flick. I think it IS going to play very well to audiences. I think this will launch a successful new trilogy (at least) and just like you say, a new generation will choose this one as its own. It’s not without flaws, not by a longshot, but I really liked it a lot.

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