The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t exactly amazing, but it is a fine reintroduction to the friendly neighborhood wallcrawler. Even though it was only made so that Sony could keep their stinky fingers on the character. I’ve always been a big Spider-Man fan, but even I had to question the point of a reboot a mere 5 years after Spider-Man 3. I was at an age when I started to follow superhero productions very closely. So I distinctly remember the talk surrounding Spider-Man 4. It was meant to come out in 2011 with Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and everyone else returning. John Malkovich was cast as the Vulture and Anne Hathaway as Black Cat (who ironically went on to play a different feline fatale).
I was excited, but I started to get nervous the more I learned. Felicia Hardy was gonna become Vultress instead and I began to lose faith in the sequel. So did Sam Raimi apparently. He was replaced by the ironically named romantic comedy director Marc Webb. Who sought to make the movie darker and more realistic. I was skeptical when I saw the costume & trailer, but The Amazing Spider-Man title that pays homage to the Marvel comic series was encouraging. My brother and I casually went to see the reboot and we were willing to accept the changes that were made…
The Amazing Spider-Man tries to be different, but it still comes across the same here and there. The main theme doesn’t quite give off a Spider-Man feel. However, I did like the use of spiders crawling on a webbed opening title. Rather than jump straight into the action, The Amazing Spider-Man takes Peter Parker’s iconic origin as far back as his childhood. Which was excessive to say the least. That means the inclusion of Peter’s mysterious parents. In the comics, Richard and Mary Parker are CIA agents affiliated with S.H.I.E.L.D. The movie depicts them as secretive with mostly vague scientific research to cover up. They drop Peter off with Aunt May & Uncle Ben who are also given a lot more attention.
I’ll always have an attachment to Tobey Maguire, but Andrew Garfield did the best he could do with Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Giving off a stronger Ultimate Spider-Man feel. Despite being almost 30 at the time, Garfield had a youthful look and the right slender physique for Spidey. He was also British, but his American accent is convincing. I’m just not a fan of him being a stuttering mess. Which isn’t enough to distract from his good looking, stylish, likable, intelligent, skater boy image that somehow gets him bullied. Chris Zylka is the most accurate portrayal of Flash Thompson put to film. He’s actually blonde, his bullying towards Peter is believable, and he becomes a fan of Spider-Man just like the comics. The reboot was also an opportunity to follow Peter’s love life more accurately. So Gwen Stacy is Peter’s first love instead of Mary Jane Watson. Emma Stone looks like she leapt right off the comic pages. Although she prefers red hair, Stone is a natural blonde. She makes for a very pretty Gwen Stacy who maintains her sweetness, but gives her more charm and intelligence.
The chemistry between Garfield and Stone is so adorkably believable that they went on the date in real life. My only problem is how unbearably cringy their romantic conversations can become. Peter’s home life is also given a lot more attention then you’d think it would. Although Peter stays in Midtown Science High School the entire movie, there’s really not too much focus on it. Martin Sheen is a suitable replacement as Uncle Ben. He’s caring and more no nonsense towards Peter. Since becoming an orphan is more present, the main theme is Peter’s search for a father figure. Sheen gets plenty of time to flesh out Uncle Ben in that way. You can’t go wrong with Oscar winner Sally Field as Aunt May. She’s at least 20 years younger than the usual elderly Aunt May, but that just gives her a more feisty personality. While still being loving and concerned for Peter.
After discovering his father’s briefcase, Peter discovers his connection to Oscorp, and researches it using Bing for some reason. Since Dylan Baker was finally set to become the Lizard in Spider-Man 4, Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard instead became the primary antagonist in The Amazing Spider-Man. Rhys Ifans is a strange actor, but a convincing scientific genius searching to restore his missing arm. I just wish a tormented supervillain like this wasn’t missing the wife and son that make him that way. After a whole lot of exposition, Peter is finally bit by the genetically altered spider in a cross species genetics lab in Oscorp. Where Gwen is conveniently an intern. I actually love the idea of Oscorp being at the center of every threat in the movie. Norman Osborn is a hidden figure with some kind of illness Irrfan Khan’s character alludes to.
Peter discovering his powers is different, but just as funny as before. His Spider-sense is more of a high pitched sound, he’s extra sticky, and has a spider-like appetite for some reason. Peter uses his newfound powers to embarrass Flash in a less satisfying way. Which leads him to neglect his home life in order to work with Dr. Connors. It made sense for Peter as a half spider to face a villain who’s half lizard, but it still defeats the purpose of the more realistic tone. Their decision to be different backfires when Uncle Ben delivers a rambling speech that’s trying really hard not to sound like “With great power comes great responsibility.” Even the inevitable scene with the thief isn’t half as satisfying when it’s Peter trying to buy milk at a convenience store. Uncle Ben’s death feels about the same. Instead of catching the killer, Peter seeks revenge by searching New York for every criminal with long blonde hair. Of which there are many.
It’s never resolved, but it does succeed in giving Peter convenient inspiration in an abandoned wrestling ring. Another positive is the much needed inclusion of web shooters. Peter is already a scientific genius, so it’s not that unbelievable for him to compact Oscorp’s lightweight cables into a wristwatch. The Spider-suit is different to say the least. It obviously doesn’t abandon the classic red & blue, but the webbing is less prominent, the colors are darker, the eyes are a distracting shade of orange, and the material looks like a basketball. But at least Peter finally suits up after what seems like an hour. If Maguire was a more convincing Peter, then Garfield is a more convincing Spider-Man. His wisecracking jokes are just as funny as you’d expect.
Since the Daily Bugle is sadly not featured for obvious reasons, the police department are instead the ones who call Spidey a menace. Unlike the comics, Captain George Stacy has a vendetta against Spider-Man. Which is the exact opposite of the kinds of characters Denis Leary is known for. Gwen loves her father and has a happy home life. Peter’s conflicting views lead to tension, but he finds comfort in Gwen by revealing his secret. Giving Gwen more to do as a love interest. Dr. Connors manages to regrow his limb, but it leads to the unwanted side effects. The Lizard is a giant deadly reptile who would have looked a whole lot better with a snout. Only wearing his trademark lab coat once. Their fight on the bridge gives Peter a chance to embrace his destiny as Spider-Man. Rescuing a kid by unfortunately taking off his mask (something he does a lot). Their next fight in a sewer is more brutal and the Lizard learns Peter’s identity because it was ridiculously labeled on his camera.
Seeing Spider-Man and the Lizard fight at school is an awesome sight with one of Stan Lee’s all time best cameos. As a librarian hilariously oblivious to the fight behind him. Curt’s plan to turn New York into lizard people is just like the comics, but it comes out of nowhere in the movie. At the climax, Peter’s identity is revealed to Captain Stacy as well. Leaving Spider-Man injured after he agrees to let him go. New Yorkers embrace Spidey by giving him cranes to swing from. Leading to the final fight atop Oscorp. An antidote cures Connors long enough for him to redeem himself. Captain Stacy fulfils his comic book destiny by dying at the hands of a villain. Giving Peter words of encouragement and making him promise to keep Gwen out of it. Peter stays away at first, but he decides not to after listening to Uncle Ben’s final message. Ending in a new final swing that isn’t quite as epic as the 2002 version.
The Amazing Spider-Man does have a fine grasp on what it means to be a teenager in the modern age. It’s realistic to a degree, but there is more comedy then the trailers revealed. The web slinging is also more scientifically plausible. The first person look isn’t always present, but the CGI makes for an exciting experience. Same with the scales on the Lizard. Since the MCU was in full effect, there is a mid-credit scene. Albeit one that’s vague and doesn’t reveal anything worth getting excited about. Oscorp nearly appeared in The Avengers, but I’m still not sure what that could’ve meant. The Amazing Spider-Man is best viewed as Spider-Man’s serviceable transitional period.
Followed by: The Amazing Spider-Man 2