Review – The Amazing Spider-Man

              Rating = ★★★       Tagline = Matinee

I was surprised when I originally heard that the Spider-Man franchise was going to be rebooted – just five years after the Sam Raimi directed trilogy ended. Granted, the first of the series was just alright and the last closing installment was plain silly. The stand-out, gem, of the original trilogy was the second in the series. That middle film benefitted from more emphasis placed on the character behind the superhero. I was afraid this reboot would add nothing to the previous efforts. Then I saw the cast, director, and writers – promising, for sure. So I walked into the theater with some expectations of a new twist, or more compelling story. I walked out a bit disappointed. The Amazing Spider-Man wasn’t a bad superhero movie (the second film of the original trilogy retains its place as the best of the lot); it just felt somewhat pointless in the end – did like a lot though.

As a very young child, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) experienced both of his parents being whisked away under mysterious conditions and with no explanation. They leave him with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). They never return. We find out that they’re killed in a crash. Peter has had to live with this sense of abandonment ever since – bottled up inside of him for years. He isn’t popular at school. One day he visits Oscorp, the lab where his father was working before he disappeared. Peter meets his father’s old colleague, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). When he strays into an unattended lab, he gets bitten by a spider. This wasn’t a normal spider, though. We all know the story by now – the spider venom changes his DNA. His life is completely altered as he gains his new “spidey” powers.

 Written by James Vanderbilt, Steve Kloves, and Alvin Sargent, the screenplay is a mixed bag. The humor aspect works well. The Spider-Man of the original comics was always a bit cocky and cracking jokes when taking down criminals. This was something not addressed in the previous trilogy. It works well in this film. It was worth some chuckles and never felt forced. The script falls flat in other areas, though. The villain isn’t given much thought. He’s not fully developed and there’s too much to his character that’s left unexplained. Other characters seem to act in ways that are not consistent with their personalities. There are plot holes. The story seems like it’s trying to be complex, but the script doesn’t fully develop all its ideas. I do think Peter Parker was handled marvelously.

Hopefully a great sequel will pop up next.

Marc Webb is the director. You may know him from his excellent romantic comedy, (500) Days of Summer. The big reason I was looking forward to this incarnation of the Spider-Man franchise was because I had read it would be a darker take on the story and I had been so impressed by Webb’s earlier film. I was expecting the Batman Begins of the Spider-Man franchise. The film builds for about an hour before the “action” starts. I like it when a movie takes the time to set up a plot and develop the characters; I really love it when it’s done well. In this case, however, the background doesn’t have the strength to carry half the film to Batman Begins kind of level. I found myself getting a bit bored at times. The characters and situations were engaging at times, but I never felt “glued” to the screen. It needed more “life.” There were two bright spots that helped the first hour of the movie – the two leads.

 The acting is really good throughout. The standouts in the cast are Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. They have great chemistry. That might be due to the fact that they are dating in real life. I wouldn’t go as far to say they are better than Tobey Maguire and Kristen Dunst, but they definitely inhabit their roles in a new way that works. You could make a case, though, that Garfield is better in the role than Maguire. Garfield plays a very appealing nerd. Maguire only really shone in his second Spider-Man movie. In the others, he was average. Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field are just fine in their supporting roles. None of the supporting roles shine, but they do a gsolid job.

 The special effects are excellent. There are some action scenes that are superior to any of the Spider-Man action scenes of the past, for sure. They excite, and are a pleasure to watch. Spidy’s web slinging looks excellent. I also liked the costume. When I first saw a still of Garfield in the costume I wasn’t “feeling it.” Now that I’ve seen it in the movie, I have to say it does work. (I hope that’s the same for Hathaway’s Catwoman costume.) Nice soundtrack as well.

The Amazing Spider-Man was totally a mixed bag if there ever was one. I think it was too early for a reboot. The film isn’t a waste of time. It’s good solid fun. I’m happy it’s more than a typical cash grab entertainment blockbuster, you’ll enjoy it – and even more at an IMAX theater. Don’t bother to see it in 3D, though – that’s definitely not worth it. Maybe the Spider-Man franchise reboot will be like the first trilogy – an alright solid opening act followed up by an amazing second one. I hope so and I look forward to the next Spidey outing.

20 thoughts on “Review – The Amazing Spider-Man

  1. Great review. I’ll wait to see this when it comes out on DVD, just for an entertaining B-movie night. My money will be saved for “The Dark Knight Rises”.

  2. I completely understand your reasons for giving the film the rating you did. It’s more of a remake than something original. With that said, I did enjoy what was presented and I liked the Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone enough to recommend the film.

    • I would recommend it for a one time viewing. I wanted to give it a three star rating, but in the end it never came together enough for me to really connect with it.

  3. I felt pretty much the same way. It was an enjoyable film, but completely unnecessary. The elements that justified a remake (the “secret” regarding Peter’s parents, a “darker” and more realistic tone, the web shooters) really didn’t amount to that much, and the movie really didn’t seem very different from Raimi’s films in a whole lot of ways. If the Raimi trilogy didn’t exist, this movie would be considered a great Spider-man film, but as it stands, it just seems like Sony just needed to have another film to keep the rights to the character and didn’t care what direction the film took. They just got lucky that it turned out decent.

    By the way, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee didn’t write the screenplay. They were the creators of the comic book (Ditko is currently 84 while Lee is 89–he had a great cameo in this film as the clueless librarian). The first draft of the script was written by James Vanderbilt (it was pitched to Sam Raimi originally, and he turned it down) and then was re-written by both Alvin Sargent (who worked on previous installments) and Steve Kloves (of the Harry Potter series) at different times. As a bit of screenwriting trivia, if you see two names connected by an ampersand (&), then they worked as a team; if the word “and” is used, that means that the writers worked separately with one re-writing a draft from another writer, which is very common in Hollywood. Many times a movie will have a dozen uncredited writers who do “polishes” on the dialogue, which isn’t considered as true writing by the Writer’s Guild of America. The WGA makes final determination of credit based on how much a writer contributes to the structure of the story, which is why a movie may end up being completely different than a book it’s based on because each writer needs to add his own stamp on the story in order to get credit. Of course, this all has nothing to do with Spider-man.

    • You have a point. This would have been or appear better than it is if the other trilogy was never made. I also agree that this was marketed to be unrecognizable different, but it isn’t as different as many would think.

      Thank you for correcting that (I just changed it in the review). That was a great in depth analysis on that. I am also going to stop looking on Rotten Tomatoes for the screenwriters.

      • IMDb is probably a better place to get info on screenwriters simply because they list whether it’s screenplay, story, or book that the person wrote. I see what you mean about Rotten Tomatoes. That’s very misleading!

      • Yeah, IMDB always has it’s information right on the money. It’s layout is cleaner as well. Yes, Rotten Tomatoes has gotten on my nerves quite a few times.

  4. Good detailed review without giving anything away. The holes in the plot and dropped plot points all had to do with happenings around the lab. Check out my review of it. I also think you’ll like Cat Woman.

    • Thanks. Yeah, that’s where the movies ambitious ides started to fall apart. I hope you’re right about Cat Woman. I checked out your review as well, we have similar thoughts on this one.

  5. Great review Alec. This film didn’t really do as much for me as it did to plenty of other reviewers out there, but I still have to say I enjoyed enough of it while it lasted. Garfield was a great choice for this lead role but come on, Tobey Maguire is the definitive Peter Parker if you really think about it.

    • Thanks. Yeah, I didn’t hate it, it was just alright. I know your special love of the previous trilogy. I found both of the these opening entries to be pretty even. Garfield was a very good Peter Parker. But Tobey Maguire fit the character a a little better.

  6. Alec, I really love the new setup here. Just keep it this way, please, it’s perfect!! 😀

    Great review, as usual. I liked this film quite a bit more than you did (I gave it a B), but it’s not as much as a disagreement we have had as on Crazy, Stupid, Love. or on Good Will Hunting.

    Also, have you checked out my other blog? It’s collaborative with a very good friend of mine; you may enjoy reading it:

    • Thanks, I’ve messed around with some new looks. But I really like this one and have no intention to change it. Not our biggest disagreement, I just never could quite connect with it as well as some people did.

      Sure, I’ll check it out.

  7. Yet again, another excellent review! I’ve heard mixed reviews about this version of Spiderman, so I passed it up in theaters. I will give it a chance and rent it, thanks!


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