Five years ago, Spider-man 3 was released, and I disliked that movie so much that to this day, I do not own it. I won’t even spend $4 on a used copy of it, just to complete my collection. So, when it was announced several years ago that Sam Raimi would not be doing a fourth Spider-man movie, I can’t say that I was disappointed. I know that there were a lot of behind the scenes issues that contributed to the third movie’s quality, but I don’t really care. I just wanted a quality Spider-man movie, and if Raimi could do that while giving the studio what they wanted, then someone else needed to be brought in. Was a complete reboot necessary? Probably not, but it did present an opportunity to change the tone and the characterization. And overall, I believe that the filmmakers took advantage of that opportunity with The Amazing Spider-man.
Directed by Marc Webb
Written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent & Steve Kloves
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-man
Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy
Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard
Denis Leary as Captain Stacy
Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben
Sally Field as Aunt May
All of the main Spider-man lore remains in this movie. Peter lives with his aunt and uncle (after his parents drop him off), he’s a technologically smart high schooler, gets bitten by a spider, is given super powers that are “spiderish,” and the bit about Uncle Ben. The part where the origin story differs is with Peter’s father. His father was a scientist working on a cross species genetic project with Dr. Curt Connors. The other notable difference with this story is the fact that Peter is still a high school student, with Gwen Stacy and Flash Thompson being fellow students at the school. Absent is any mention of Harry Osborn, with Norman Osborn only being a referenced threat as the employer of Dr. Connors.
First, let’s talk about what I didn’t like about the movie. The stuff with Captain Stacy and the police force seemed very forced. In a nutshell, they view Spider-man as a vigilante and want to arrest him. But when things really mattered, Spider-man wasn’t a vigilante, and everything is fine. Sure, it could be brought up again in the next movie, but it doesn’t make any sense. It’s like the filmmakers saw Batman being hunted at the end of The Dark Knight, and thought it would be cool to have Spider-man hunted by the police. But here, there’s no point to it.
The thing I liked most about the movie was the presence of a witty Spider-man. No the one-liners weren’t always funny, but they didn’t have to be. Just the fact that this was a part of the character was something that I had been missing from previous Spider-man movies. And if you want to ask where this personality comes from with Peter being a fairly quiet, nerdy guy, it’s really simple. It’s a combination of the mask and the powers. You see some cockiness in a scene where Peter taunts Flash. But also, the anonymity that the mask gives will embolden people. Just look at the Internet. People say things on here that they would never say in person. Sure, this is often used for evil, but you get the point. Another subtle part of this was a scene in which Spider-man is trying to track down The Lizard to capture him and get a picture. While he’s waiting on his webs, he’s playing a game on his cell phone. No, it’s not something big, but it did help cement the personality of Spider-man.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Andrew Garfield, having never seen him in anything else. Well, let me rephrase that, I saw him in the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (great movie), but didn’t really know who he was. Overall, I was pleased with his performance. He had this nice nervousness as Peter Parker that seemed pretty natural, and was able to pull off the wise-cracking Spider-man. Someone commented to me that they liked Spider-man being more sleek and slender than he was in the previous movies, and I agree.
There really isn’t much to say about the others. Quality actors and actresses doing quality work. Martin Sheen and Sally Field weren’t necessarily better or worse as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, but they were different. And different was good. Emma Stone played a fine Gwen Stacy. Rhys Ifans played the tortured scientist very well.
Visually, the movie looks good. I saw the movie in 3D, but that may have been a mistake. Don’t get me wrong, the 3D looks good, but it really only adds anything to movie during the last third of the movie. Otherwise known as the final action sequence. I also liked the inclusion of the web shooters. I don’t think it’s a good idea that the web fluid is something that is purchased at Oscorp, being that someone could track down who is buying this stuff. But whatever. All superhero movies require some level of suspension of disbelief.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed this movie, and it is the Spider-man that I wanted to see portrayed in a movie. I recommend that you see this movie. If you want to see it in 3D, try for a matinee, so that you can save some money.