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~Ephesians 5:16

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man Review

Ten years ago Spider-Man came into theaters. How time flies, right? Just ten years later we have a reboot. Like many, when I heard that Spider-Man 4 was canned in favor of a reboot, I thought it was a pretty bad decision. Spider-Man 3 came out four years ago, was this really necessary? I was also a bit annoyed that they didn't go The Incredible Hulk route and make it a reboot-continuation. No need for the origin, just had it in the opening credits. That's exactly how this film should have gone. Everyone knows Spider-Man, having him established already with the origin in the opening credits I still think would have been a better way to do it. The original trilogy I will never forget, despite Sony wanting everyone to do now. I remember my dad taking me to watch Spider-Man in the theater, I would be six years old. I remember when I saw the two sequels, I liked the actors, all of them. Even today, I still like them despite what others think. This film is meant to be an origin story for a new audience, for all the six year olds out there that's their first time seeing Spidey on the big screen. While I will always be attached to Raimi's Spidey films, I will not deny the new directions with this film is exciting. It's great to see a new take.

The story as told from Columbia Pictures:

"The Amazing Spider-Man" is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents' disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans), his father's former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors' alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.

So, how exactly does one review this film? Am I supposed to forget that there was a series of films with the last one being just four years ago? I wasn't too thrilled to be seeing all of this stuff again, the spider bite, Uncle Ben dying, it's already been done in modern times. However, things have quite changed since 2002. The film's tone is darker, gritter, and not attempting to have any comedic moments. This is Spider-Man for a new generation, so in that way, a new origin is welcome. Of course for people like me, the real question was going to be if it would be engaging enough. What would it do to improve upon the origin story of the original? Well, Spider-Man is better. Probably some of the reason is nostalgia, but that film's light tone and the actors captured the classic Spidey comics' tone and atmosphere. This film is almost like an else-worlds version. Let me put it in brief: this is a remake of Spider-Man, nothing more, nothing less. The whole 'Untold Story' nonsense was just trying to appeal to the fans that grew up with the old trilogy, that we would be getting something new. That isn't the case. False advertising aside, this film did a better job with following the comics' canon than the first film did. Peter in high school, Gwen Stacy, no sign of Mary Jane, this film is building a better established universe than the Raimi films did. I feel like it's going to be like Marvel's Cinematic Universe, everything feels nicely intertwined with hints of things to come. The casting is one of the most important parts in the film.

The race for who was going to play Spider-Man was pretty big two years ago. In the end, Andrew Garfield was picked. I've never seen him in anything, but people did like him from The Social Network. I personally was a little disappointed that the whole film would be taking place in high school, but it works here. These days people seem to be in favor of a teenage Spider-Man. But it follows the comics, we'll probably see him graduate in the next one. Anyways, Garfield's portrayal was pretty...good for the most part. What fans didn't like about Maguire's portrayal of the Web-Head was his lack of signature wisecracks. I think there could have been more wisecracks, but he's still the definitive Spidey. Garfield brings something new to the table however. I can't quite put my finger on it, he was good but there were some out-of-character moments. First off, he seemed well, for a lack of better term, rather mean. Spidey uses his wisecracks, but not in such a mean manner. Also, Peter isn't one to be an initiative when it comes to the lovey-dovey stuff, I think they're tweaking his character a little too much in that aspect, Maguire's portrayal had a sense of niceness and respect I liked which conveyed Spidey (well, from the older comics) well. That's not to say Garfield is a bad Spidey. With this film's gritty tone, he's the perfect choice. I liked him for the most part. The lovely Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy. While Stacy was completely shoehorned into Spidey 3, here she's Spidey's first girlfriend, just like in the comics. I'll be honest, with the high school setting, I wasn't expecting much other than the stereotypical stuff. (For some reason when a film takes place in high school, I automatically assume the acting will be sub-par at best.) But I assumed wrong, she turned out to be one of the better characters. It'll be sad to see her leave once the Green Goblin inevitably throws her off the bridge. (That's going to be one heck of a thing to adapt.) It's hard to replace Aunt May and Uncle Ben from Raimi's movies, but this film made it possible. I was a bit sad the whole time knowing Uncle Ben was going to die, he was one of the best characters in the whole thing, all of his dialogue was great. While no one could replace Aunt May with her many quotes of wisdom from the Raimi films, the one here does a pretty good job. Captain Stacy was also a pretty good character. Rather than be a stereotypical captain who wants Spidey captured for little-to-no reason, he comes off as 'real.' One of the best dialogue scenes was between him and Peter at dinner. Now, for the antagonist. Rhys Ifans portrays Curt Conners, better known as the Lizard. He was pretty good, nothing great, but good. He doesn't quite match up to William Dafoe as the Green Goblin or Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus. Those villains were really well established, the Lizard isn't quite as well established, they could have done a much better job with that. It doesn't help the fact that the Lizard looks extremely lame, I'm really surprised they didn't go with the more reptilian snout look, it would have looked so much better. 

Seeing the new costume helped me realize the same thing I've thought before: the classic one would have looked better. This one isn't bad, (spider logo on the back is pretty awesome) but looks a little strange in my opinion. Of course, this new costume helps separate itself from the Raimi films, so that's something. The fights with the Lizard was good, but could have been longer and more satisfying. The Avengers did a great job with its fun and excellent choreographed fights, the fights against Lizard I felt was a bit disappointing. While the film is pretty much dark, (picture a Spidey story in Gotham City) there are a few pretty funny instances. This Stan Lee cameo may be his best one yet. In the early stages when Peter looks surprised at how he made some things break (his reaction to the bent football goal post is priceless) is some funny stuff. Spidey never managed to catch the burglar who killed Uncle Ben, I guess that plot point will be saved for a future film. The death of Captain Stacy I think should have been saved for the sequel with the classic words from the comic "Take care of Gwen" rather than him dying him asking Peter to promise that he'll stay away from Gwen. The soundtrack was rather disappointing. While comic book films pretty much never have stellar soundtracks, this one was just bland, nothing stood out. At least the Raimi films had that catchy Spidey theme, not here.

Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man is an origin story whether you like it or not. There's no 'untold story,' it's about Peter becoming the Web-Slinger. Despite some questionable character moments, bland soundtrack, and lame Lizard design, The Amazing Spider-Man is a very good film. I look forward to seeing what Andrew Garfield will do with the role in the sequel. It is a good day to be a Spidey fan. Plus it has a Godzilla reference, so there's that.



  1. No reason to exist whatsoever, but it’s still a fun, superhero flick that’s being released at a perfect time. However, I kept on being reminded of the original series every single time the film would touch on a plot-point. Too distracting for me at times, but I still had fun none the less. Solid review.

    1. Thanks. Yeah it's hard to forget the previous trilogy, but still a good film.