I saw this movie the night before it opened and wanted to wait a few days before putting pen to paper. Or what’s the equivalent phrase for typing on my keyboard? It is almost impossible to write this review without comparing The Amazing Spider-Man to Raimi’s trilogy. All I will say is I absolutely loathed most of the first one (Green Goblin and Web Swinging scenes are just horrible), loved the 2nd and didn’t think the 3rd one was nearly as bad as everyone says.
Is rebooting a franchise that is less than five or six years old a good idea? Perhaps, no, but who cares? The movie gets so much right, but what it gets wrong, is really wrong and sinks the entire effort. I cannot talk about the bad without providing major spoilers, so be warned. Let’s start with the spoiler free good.
Everything about this effort feels better and more grounded than Raimi’s efforts. Rhys Ifan’s as Curt “The Lizard” Connors was spot on. The make up work on the Lizard looked great on iMax. The early images did not do it justice. I loved the fact that you could see a bit of the “man” and the “human” underneath the make up and the CGI. The action sequences in the last 3rd were breathtaking on iMax. While Rhys does a great job with Connors, the writers really don’t do a good job of making him a more well rounded character.
Rhys Ifan’s Interview
That’s the whole point of the lizard that he is half man/half lizard and he always had some of the Connors humanity in him. Director Marc Webb does a perfect job of walking that fine line with one of the more difficult characters in Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery. I liked that we did not get a rehash or re-imagined Goblin this time out. Although with the inclusion of Gwen Stacy, there is absolutely no way they can do a sequel without having the Goblin in it and having the 2nd film end on a down note.
Emma Stone comes across as a saner, cleaner version of Lindsay Lohan. I love Stone and think she’s great here as the beautiful Gwen Stacy, she’s a female version of Peter Parker. Unlike party girl MJ, Gwen is a serious scientist who doesn’t sit around waiting to be rescued. Stone has really good chemistry with Andrew Garfield.
While Webb does a fabulous job of showcasing Garfield’s Peter Parker as smart. We see his inspiration for and creation for the famous web shooters and watch as he solves Conner’s complex equations. There was a lot of Spider-Man’s snarky personality. One thing that didn’t translate well to film is the idea that Peter uses the jokes to hide his complete lack of confidence in what he’s doing. So if you don’t know this, he may come across as bit of a cocky jerk.
The movie is perfectly cast, Martin Sheen lends a lot of weight to Uncle Ben and while Sally Field doesn’t have much to do as Aunt May, its always nice to see this classic, classy actress on screen in any capacity. Dennis Leary was fantastic as Captain Stacy and watching he and Peter argue at the dinner table was a real treat. James Horner’s Score is sweeping and beautiful, especially in the closing moments. Love this costume but it was unnecessarily “dark and gritty”, but the gloves where distracting. The Amazing Spider-Man has a lot going for it, namely a great build up in the first act and a fun close, but it is the middle portion where the movie almost falls apart.
Major Spoilers Start Here!
The issue with the middle portion of the movie is, Webb and the 6 people who wrote this movie clearly had an idea of what they wanted to do with Peter Parker as a character but they have no idea who Spider-Man is or what makes him tick. I loathed the idea that Peter walked into a room where there were a hundred, maybe thousand other spiders that were treated with radioactivity. So now the idea that Peter is the ONLY one who has ever or ever will be bitten is just silly. It totally destroys the specialness of the idea that it was ONE unique spider that caused the birth of Spider-Man.
I have issues with the idea of Osborne being responsible for the creation of Spider-Man – and now the death of his parents. Do we really need that added layer of conflict between the two? No, there was always more than enough to stoke the flames of hatred there. Starting and ending with Norman being a Psycho who also knew Peter’s secret. Don’t even get me started on how many times Peter is unmasked in this movie, or the laughable moment how Connors finds out – really, REALLY?
Perhaps the most unforgivable thing Webb and the writers do here is completely change who Spider-Man is (at his CORE) and his entire motivation for existence. You can fluff off the “With Great Power Comes Responsibility Line” all you want, but Spider-Man is driven, DRIVEN by his GUILT over Uncle Ben’s Death.
Not only should he feel guilt for letting the criminal go. But Ben was out looking for Peter, who stormed out like a spoiled child, when it happened. This should have ratcheted up the idea that he should feel responsible for protecting everyone. Instead his motivation isn’t to help people because he did nothing, it’s because he’s angry and wants REVENGE. Peter doesn’t seem to feel an ounce of remorse, or guilt, he never seems to even find the guy who killed Uncle Ben. He’s out attacking bad guys in the hopes that its the guy responsible for killing his Uncle. Spider-Man isn’t BATMAN! Not ALL heroes have to be revenge seeking, dark characters!
He doesn’t seem to care about helping other people until this amazingly awful, on so many levels, scene where he rescues a kid trapped in a car. After wasting 20 minutes of film time, this is when the “light bulb” goes off in his head that yeah; maybe he should use his powers to help people – even then we don’t see him really swinging about helping out where he could. How weak and stupid is this? This moment of “revelation” doesn’t come until deep into the 2nd act. So the fact that he saved some strange kid has more of an impact on the direction of his life than the death of his freaking Uncle? It really ruins most of the good work Webb and Company did in the first act and really makes the 3rd act feel sort of hallow and perfunctory.
I’m a Spider-Man expert, but I had no idea what the heck was going on with the teaser ending. Who was that guy and why should I care? They didn’t name who he was.
I started this review ready to rave about how much I loved this movie but the more I think about how awful the middle portion is, as someone who collected Spider-Man comics for 20 years, this major shift in his character just bugs me to no end, primarily because it is a completely unnecessary and stupid change.
Final Grade C