Summer vacation has put me two steps behind, but I’m finally getting around to posting a review for The Amazing Spider-Man. The debate over whether it was too soon to reboot this franchise should be completely ignored based on two simple facts. The first go at Spidey quickly turned ugly, resulting in a third film that still makes me cringe. Finally, The Amazing Spider-Man is a great flick. This makes forgetting Spider-Man 3 that much easier.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) finds himself living with his aunt and uncle after his parents have to suddenly leave with only a mystery left behind. Now in high school, Peter finds a connection between his parents and Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a scientist working to find a way to regrow lost limbs, hopefully finding a way to regrow his own missing arm. When Peter sneaks into the labs, he is bitten by a spider, granting him some strange abilities. He’s not the only one going through changes as Dr. Connors experiments on himself, turning into a giant lizard determined to do the same to the entire city.
I wound up having a few strange problems with this film, but they’re not all bad when you think about it. With a running time of almost two and a half hours, it seemed like there wasn’t enough time for everything. Great moments seemed to come and go too quickly, but if a movie this long seems too short, is that really such a bad thing? The only other real problem I have is one that won’t happen for everybody. I’ve been such a huge Spider-Man fan since I was a kid, that I’ve heard his origin story too many times. They manage to do it extremely well in this one, giving it a bit more impact and taking some of the more cheesy aspects out, but it’s still something that I’m tired of seeing. I tend to have this same problem with Batman as well. It’s not their fault that I know the story so well, so I can’t really hold it against them.
The original Spidey flick stayed so close to the origin, while this one keeps the core ideas but offers something more fresh. They include a great moment as a wink to the original story and take the death of Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) to new heights. When Uncle Ben is shot, it hurts. A lot of this moment owes to Martin Sheen playing Uncle Ben incredibly. It’s a small, but important, character in Spider-Man, and Sheen manages to make it the defining moment that it should be. Andrew Garfield in the lead and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy are a fabulous pair. Stone manages to make Gwen strong but a bit awkward, much like Garfield does for Peter Parker. They’ve captured the personalities of the characters in the exact way I’ve always felt they should be.
The film is darker now, which helps the story of Peter. He gets his ass kicked, terrible things happen to him, everyone is after him, but he continues to do what he feels is right. The film finds the middle ground between the very dark Batman series and the much lighter Marvel films that have been coming out. Spider-Man struggles, but things don’t seem as bleak as they could be. Unfortunately, there is a lack of action in the film. When it happens, it’s incredible. Watching Spider-Man fight the Lizard is great, and the Lizard is incredibly well done, but there’s just not enough. My son commented that it was too dramatic, and he’s right. I think we’ve been spoiled by The Avengers though, a film that could avoid the setup because everyone involved had their own film before.
This is a very good film, only brought down by my own obsessive knowledge of Spider-Man. What is even more exciting is the thought of the next film. If they continue with this tone and the same cast, the second film is going to rank up there with the wonderful comic book heroes we’ve gotten in the last few years. With the origin story told, a second film opens itself up to a lot more action, and for a Spider-Man fan like myself, that means it will probably knock Avengers and Batman off my list of favourites.
Under the marquee – Will