The Amazing Spider-Man Review
by Delon Villanueva
Let me say right away that I think a lot of people’s enjoyment for The Amazing Spider-Man will be influenced by their familiarity with the original trilogy by Sam Raimi, and that’s unfortunate. I also think we all knew rebooting the series was an act of greed on Sony’s part, but I will review this movie without being biased. I am going to avoid criticisms about this being a “useless reboot,” as I will look at it as a stand-alone movie. Well, actually, I will make a lot of comparisons to Sam Raimi’s trilogy throughout the review, but with good reason. Believe me, it’s not easy for me to explain how I feel about this movie without remembering how it solely exists because Spider-Man 4 was cancelled. I still looked forward to it as much as I would for any other superhero movie, so I didn’t go into it with a negative attitude. Took me a day to come to terms with my opinion, and I can now say that it is a solid Spider-Man movie.
Rolling off the fact that the origin story is so well known by everyone at this point, here is a very brief summary. Peter Parker is a nerdy outcast who is raised by his uncle and aunt, and a radioactive spider bites him one day. This gives him the powers of a spider, and when his Uncle Ben is killed as a result of Peter’s actions, he goes off to avenge him as a vigilante known as Spider-Man. So what’s different this time around? In The Amazing Spider-Man, the movie has more focus on the mystery of Peter’s parents. Peter finds many clues, which lead him to the villain, Dr. Curt Connors, a scientist at OsCorp Industries who used to work with Peter’s father. He has been developing a serum to help regrow limbs (as he has no right arm), and with Peter’s discovery of his father’s algorithm, Dr. Connors may have found a solution. Though instead, it all goes wrong when he tests it out on himself, and makes him become the Lizard. Another significant change is Peter’s love interest to Gwen Stacy (his real first love in the comic books). Gwen has a lot more involvement in the plot, as an intern at OsCorp, instead of being just the adorable, cute girl Peter has a crush on.
One of the best things about this reboot is the cast. Andrew Garfield is an improvement over Tobey Maguire, as Garfield is a much more sensitive and darker Peter. There is a lot of sincerity in his performance, but it may just be this movie’s depiction of Peter Parker, but more on that later. Emma Stone is awesome as Gwen Stacy, as it’s nice to see a smart and interesting love interest for once. Garfield and Stone have a lot of chemistry. She’s a lot better than the original trilogy’s Mary Jane, played by Kirsten Dunst. As much as I like Cliff Robertson as Uncle Ben in the first movie, we do get to spend a lot more time with Martin Sheen in this film. Uncle Ben and Aunt May, played by Sally Field, seemed to have a much stronger relationship with Peter here, seen through the deeper dialogue between them. Denis Leary is also really good as Captain Stacy, Gwen’s father, given his smaller screen time compared to others. The only complaint I have is Rhys Ifans as Dr. Connors, but it’s not much his fault. I like him in the role, but his presence in the movie is not as immense as it should have been, and not nearly as memorable as the other villains. His story starts off well, but then there is a lack of development. Again, more on that later.
I can describe the action in this movie to be fun, but not impressive. It’s really cool to see some real, non-CGI shots of Spider-Man swinging through the streets, but everything else looks rather cartoony. Not that it’s unwatchable, but it doesn’t set itself apart from generic action sequences from other movies. It could be the fact that director Marc Webb isn’t used to doing action scenes, but in that case, it’s a start, and he will probably improve in the next movie. Now, let me explain Marc Webb’s role in this film more. With (500) Days of Summer being his only movie, I think everyone was unsure how he would do with a big summer blockbuster. I think he did well, even if the character relationships were better than the action sequences. Webb probably knew he was handed a project that was prematurely conceived, but he definitely worked it out. The main problem of this movie, though, is that its screenplay doesn’t prove itself worthy of being a reboot. Yes, I know I said I would avoid criticisms like this, but let me finish. Even though I love the tone of the movie, they don’t do anything creative with the origin story other than putting more emphasis on Peter’s parents. Iconic moments, like Uncle Ben’s death, seem to be squandered, especially with such a likable cast. The build-up to the villain isn’t very engaging, either. We develop a lot of emotion for the other characters, but by the end, we just don’t really care about Dr. Connors. Where the screenplay works, though, is when it gets personal. This has always been a story of self-discovery of inner strength, and with Webb’s directing and Garfield’s performance, we get a better sense of Peter Parker.
I know that’s a lot of complaints, but look at it this way. Considering the fact that there’s more emotional connection to these characters, it puts it high above most average superhero movies. The biggest flaw of The Amazing Spider-Man is what I’ve been trying not to say from but obviously have been, and that it doesn’t do anything new with a story that’s been told many times. Not just in comparison to the Sam Raimi trilogy, but the cartoons and video games, you name it. They didn’t do much with refreshing the property, other than a few new characters. Set that aside, and it’s still a Spider-Man movie. That’s the job it gets done. If the villain was better, I would be praising it more. If the Sam Raimi trilogy never existed, this could have been considered, well, “amazing.” It’s way better than Spider-Man 3, and there are enough improvements to make it even better than the first Spider-Man. Although Spider-Man 2 remains the best, just imagine what this cast and crew could do with a brand new story in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Keep optimistic, folks.