The Amazing Spider-Man – Movie Review
The Amazing Spider-Man
-Director: Marc Webb
-Writers: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves; (Mavel comic book created by) Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
-Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan
I have been reading comic books since, well, forever . . . hell, just look at my name. I’m a comic book character. I look forward eagerly to every Marvel, DC and small press comic movie that comes down the pike.
But it was just ten years ago that Tobey Maguire first hit the screens as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and a slim five years since he hung up those red and blue tights for the last time after facing Sandman, Venom and the new incarnation of the Goblin. I’m not sure I was ready for another take on the franchise, but I was willing to give it a try.
After seeing The Amazing Spider-Man, I still have mixed feelings about the whole thing. It’s certainly a fun time, though–let me explain.
Emma Stone is adorable as Gwen Stacy, but she’s been retconned to be Spidey’s high school romantic interest here. Her look is absolutely spot-on from the 1960s comics–from her classic headband to her short skirts and boots. Incongruously, Peter’s look has been updated to hoodies, a backpack, and a skateboard–he’s an average guy, somewhat tall, and he looks a just a tad too old to be in high school. What happened to the nerdy Peter Parker who would be too embarrassed to talk to the prettiest girl in school?
Rhys Ifans is complicated as the compassionate Dr. Curt Connors, showing a very vulnerable man put in a difficult situation. Martin Sheen and Sally Field are absolute powerhouses as Uncle Ben and Aunt May (but every time Uncle Ben gave out a “pearl of wisdom” I swear I heard President Bartlet echoing in the background).
There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes manipulation going on, being fronted by the mysterious Mr. Ratha–I wish his motivations and extreme loyalty were given some explanation. Everyone else in the film is motivated by love, or responsibility, or has something personal to gain. Part of this seemed to be setting up the inevitable sequel.
The major fail here is resting the entire villainous burden on the Lizard–and he just isn’t up to the task. He’s just not that interesting–and once he showed up, the plot became incredibly predictable. He also just isn’t all that articulate, being somewhat insane, and half the fun of watching Spider-Man fight is the steady stream of wisecracks he keeps up. I really missed the snark between the punches, it made the fight scenes seem more generic–any superhero could’ve been in there swinging away.
I found the pacing a little slow, at least during the “origin story” phase of the movie–Mike (my husband) didn’t. Even with the change in details, it is a story we’ve seen before (in the comics, on TV [animated and live-action], and in the movies). The evolution of the costume seemed to take forever–in the comic it was less than a page! I do like the end result, though.
A lot of the plot here is centered on the romantic subplot between Peter and Gwen. The actors have undeniable chemistry, and it comes through on-screen. They’ve made a more-together version of Peter Parker–it’s more believable for him to be dating. But a lot of “being the outcast” created the Spider-Man character–only time will tell if this new version will work. At least they managed to keep his mantra “With great power comes great responsibility.”
For me, I’m still a fan of the Sam Raimi films. I prefer the complexity of the plots and the villains. But this version is fun, too. And (coolness-factor aside), I think I prefer Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, and I really like the way they handled the swinging-between-the-buildings effects. Many of the poses could have come straight out of the pages of the comic books.
I would like to see what will happen when they’re not burdened with the origin story and have a full-length movie to tell a tale. I’ll certainly be there watching.
Reviewed by Elektra Hammond