I was hesitant to check out The Amazing Spider-Man from the moment I first heard about it. I’m not a huge fan of rebooting a franchise, especially when the last entrant in a series just took place five years ago. Still, I was a huge fan of 500 Days of Summer, so I was willing to give director Marc Webb the benefit of the doubt, especially with an interesting cast to work with. With plenty of showings to go around, I decided to give the film a shot on opening day.
After a brief introduction to some backstory in the past about how his parents mysteriously left one night, the film introduces us to Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, a nerdy outcast just trying to make it through each day at school unnoticed except by the girl of his dreams Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone). While he has a decent life being raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben (played by Sally Field and Martin Sheen respectively), there is something missing in his life that he just can’t put his finger on. When he finds some of his father’s work hidden an old briefcase, it leads him to his father’s old scientific partner Dr. Conner (played by Rhys Ifans) at Oscorp, a multi-billion dollar company with all kinds of secret research. It is here that Parker inevitably is bitten by a radioactive spider, changing his life forever.
When Peter wakes up on the train on the way home, he finds that he now (uncontrollably at first) has superpowers. At first, he uses his abilities for his own benefit, with increased confidence inevitably leading to trouble at school and home. Then, one night at a convenience store, one bad decision changes Peter’s life in the blink of an eye…
I should start by saying that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. The idea of remaking a film 10 years after its predecessor, especially when it was incredibly successful the first time around, seemed like a cash grab more than an inspired idea, but Webb does a great job of taking the same basic story and molding it in a different direction. Not changing the details of the origin (although there are enough changes to the overall story to be noticeable), but changing the focus of the film itself from the action to the actors, and that is where the film really shines.
The combination of Garfield and Stone get the bulk of the screen time here, and rather than flashing a huge amount of CGI (at least until the end), the film focuses on the real human connection the two share. Garfield, who plays the role more intensely and a bit darker than his predecessor, is the perfect combination of assured and vulnerable to carry the dual roles of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man throughout the film. Stone, for her part, is the perfect foil to Garfield. The two seem in perfect sync in their scenes, whether the mood is competitive, awkward or romantic. It is their collaboration that makes the film work as well as it does.
The supporting cast of the film is more than able as well, with Sheen in particular being impressive in limited screen time. Denis Leary as Captain Stacy is fine in his work, while Sally Field brings a new dimension to the Aunt May character that we have never seen before. There are really no weak spots in the acting, as no one tries to do too much and no one goes over the top with their part, which is almost a guarantee when you are watching a comic book movie.
The one problem I had with the film was the villain. While the Lizard is an interesting enough character, I would have preferred a more “evil” person to root against. I know you don’t want to use any of the villains that were in the previous trilogy yet, as we are trying to wash our hands completely of the whole ordeal, but the Lizard character is just too sympathetic to start with. Ifans didn’t bring anything special to the role, and the CGI for the Lizard himself didn’t blow me away. All in all, it seemed like a bad choice that could have been avoided.
Overall, I thought the film was surprisingly good. If the film had a stronger villain, I would have said it was the best Spider-Man movie to date. Instead, I will say it is a nice way to re-launch the franchise, and I am intrigued to see what they intend to do in the sequel. 3.5 out of 4 stars
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Movie Mood: Action Movie
Viewing Method: Other
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Nothing