The Amazing Spider-Man: A Flickcharter’s Movie Review
While I’m sure there were other people looking forward to it, I was the only person I knew who actually wanted to see The Amazing Spider-Man. People I know, forums I frequent, and podcasts I listen to all shared feelings that ranged from disdain to apathy for the reboot. It’s hard to blame them. It feels like just yesterday that we were all severely let down by Spider-Man 3. Add in the sheer volume of superhero movies we’ve received every year since, and it’s not surprising that the movie-going public could be experiencing some backlash towards the genre. Since people were actually wanting to see The Avengers, and seemingly can’t wait for Dark Knight Rises, their vitriol has to stem from something. That something happened to be a reboot no one was clamoring for.
The movie itself not only is a reboot, but feels a lot like a rehash of a smashed together Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, The Spider-Man elements came mostly with the fact that we had to see the whole origin story again. Peter Parker – played by Andrew Garfield – gets bitten by a radioactive spider, he experiments with his new powers, lusts after a girl, sees his uncle die, makes a suit, and fights crime. There are many things that separate this movie from the original like a different love interest, manufactured webbing, and a darker/more violent overall story. Unfortunately it doesn’t set itself apart enough where I wasn’t constantly comparing it with one of the movies from the original trilogy.
As Peter Parker, it’s hard to say Garfield works. You could buy that Tobey Maguire could be a nerd that got overlooked in high school, but Andrew Garfield is literally the best looking guy in that school. He even looks good in a pair of his dad’s old glasses that he finds in the attic. The fact that he skateboards, cuts a hole in his long sleeve tee shirts so he can wear them over his palms, and gets beat up once is allegedly supposed to make up for the fact that his hair is quaffed to near perfection and Gwen Stacey immediately likes him. I understand that it was going to be hard to make Garfield look like an outcast, but it didn’t even feel like they tried very hard.
It’s harder to judge the Spider-Man embodiments. In a lot of ways I thought Garfield was better than Maguire, but that could have been to the fact that he was written better. The fight scenes were more impressive and Spider-Man actually got to be a smart-aleck but neither of those can really be credited to the actors. The confidence Garfield had as Parker transfers over better into his Spider-Man character though. He truly embraces the powers he’s given as one would expect a teenager actually would. Normal teens think they are invincible so you can imagine how a teenager that is gifted with incredible physical powers would feel. When he is taking on bullies in school and small time criminals in the streets he uses his powers in an almost a giddy way and toys with these people he is easily dominating, Not until The Lizard comes into play does he realize he’s not as untouchable as he thought.
As a love interest Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey is unspectacular. In the original movies Mary Jane was someone Peter Parker desired but found unattainable. What made matters worse for him was that she falls for Spider-Man, giving him more self-doubt in his non-superhero persona. Gwen Stacey on the other hand is into Peter almost immediately. There is no depth to their relationship and there is no moment that comes close to the impact of the upside-down kiss. She sees him get beat up by a bully and then instantly falls for him within 20 minutes of the movie starting. What’s worse is that he tells Gwen Stacey he’s Spider-Man on what is essentially their first date. Superheroes are supposed to anguish about wanting to tell people their identity. They ultimately keep it to themselves or reveal it to someone they trust implicitly after an internal struggle. Peter tells her just so he can seal the deal on their first kiss despite the fact that her dad is the chief of police and wants Spider-Man arrested. They came together so easily that it was very hard for me to care about their relationship when things get a little rocky for them. I just wanted to yell at the screen, “It’s just a high school relationship! It wouldn’t work out anyway!”
Rhys Ifans plays the The Lizard and Dr. Curt Conners as a very Spider-Man 2-esque type of villain embodiment. Much like Doc Ock, he actually likes Peter quite a bit and the only reason he becomes a villain is because his mind gets slightly altered by an experiment gone wrong. There are other comparisons that can be made, but they would all spoil too much. As for the CGI, I thought that besides the face, The Lizard looked pretty good. I also enjoyed the natural effects that were used on Ifans in human form. When he first grows his arm back, and the scales on his skin; it all looked great.
I didn’t necessarily like The Amazing Spider-Man, but it gave me a glimmer of hope. With this film, they successfully pushed the story lines they had to rehash out of the way while creating a darker theme for upcoming sequels. It’s important that for the immediate sequel they take the character where he hasn’t been before. They have a solid enough foundation that a few changes, like not revealing his identity to every notable character, can give us sequels that live up to the best film in the series, Spider-Man 2. We don’t need to see the Green Goblin or Venom again, especially for the next sequel. If they have to take us someplace completely new or it’s just going to feel like deja vu all over again.
The Amazing Spider-Man is currently #917 out of 1902 on my Flickchart.