We all have secrets. Ones that we keep. And ones that are kept from us.
…Do I really have to explain the plot? I mean, everyone knows the origin story of Spider-Man. Telling it again would just be redundant. What’s that? I’m fired if I don’t? Fiiiiine.
After being left in the care of his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) parents mysteriously vanished from his life. Growing up proved tough for him as he is an unpopular and bullied nerd. However, after finding out a connection between his parents and an OsCorp scientist called Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), Peter heads there to find him. While being there (and snooping where he didn’t belong), he is bitten by a genetically modified spider. That spider bite causes Peter to develop spider-like abilities, such as the ability to stick to walls and heightened senses and reflexes. After an incident of Peter trying to get revenge on a bully, he and Ben have a severe argument that results in Peter running away and Ben searching for him.
That was the night Ben is shot and killed by a thief that Peter apathetically let escape. Finding new purpose after his uncle’s death, Peter becomes the vigilante superhero Spider-Man. As this is going on, Dr. Connors is pressured into finding a cure for the dying head of OsCorp. Driven to desperation to help others and restore his stump of an arm, Connors uses himself as a test subject for his cross-species formula. While it allows him to grow back his arm, it has the terrible side effect of turning him into a human-lizard monster. Now Spider-Man has to do battle with the Lizardman while dodging the NYPD, headed by Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary) who is the father of the girl of Peter’s dreams, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).
Long plot summary is long. The Amazing Spider-Man is a reboot of the Spider-Man film franchise after the critical failure of Sam Raimi’s third movie that started Tobey Maguire in the eponymous role. If I may go on a slight tangent, it has bugged many a fan of that trilogy of movies in that just one bad movie out of two critically acclaimed ones brought about the need of a whole franchise reboot. I was one of them. It was very clear that the producers, Sony Entertainment, wished to hold on to the rights of the Spider-Man films to keep Marvel from regaining them, so they quickly had to make a new movie to retain it. The background for this movie is an ugly mess of red tape and fans frothing at the mouth for Sony to let Marvel get Spider-Man to be a part of their Cinematic Universe. Regardless of people’s reaction of how this movie came to be, how does it fare?
In terms of production and entertainment, this movie was very good. In fact, I am willing to say this might be better than the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie. The cast turned in good performances, but none worth noting really, except for Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man. When it comes to portraying such an iconic character such as Spider-Man, Garfield did an admirable job. He was able to handle both the more emotional and sentimental moments as well as the more wisecracking Spider-Man that the character is known for. This Peter felt like a person in this one in comparison (GODDAMMIT) to Maguire’s more wooden take on him, with him making more realistic mistakes and giving him more moments to emote and express his thoughts. With that said, from a purely fanboy perspective, Garfield’s Peter Parker wasn’t what I’d imagine Peter Parker as. I was actually discussing with fellow viewers that Garfield was the complete opposite of Maguire’s portrayal: That he was a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker. He was quite…nerdy enough pre-spider bite. Which isn’t a bad thing; just felt it needed pointing out.
The action presented by the movie was very swift and crisp, with clever little angles that make them much more dynamic, as expected of a Spider-Man movie. However, it’s noticeably different from the Raimi movies, as Spider-Man’s fighting style was much more gymnastic with tactical maneuvers rather than just straight up brawling. It stuck with me as it made sense that a spider would try and trap or trick an enemy than fight. Speaking of which, was it ever confirmed that he has enhanced durability? Because Spidey gets tossed through a lot of walls in this movie. A friend of mine replied to my question with this: “He has a spider’s ability to keep from getting squished…no, wait.” Unfortunately, I felt the CGI for the movie was rather mediocre. Not bad, but you’d expect some kind of standard by 2012 where everything should look at least as good as The Avengers’ effects.
It is almost inevitable that people are going to make comparisons between this and Raimi’s Spider-Man. Try as I may not to, this review is going to feature some in order to properly gauge this movie. Simply put: I think this was a better origin story movie than the first one. Don’t get me wrong; I love the first Spider-Man movie! It’s just that Amazing Spider-Man connected to the audience more through the human factor. The characters didn’t really feel like people in the Raimi movies; everything was either played too little or too much. This struck the fine balance of the inherent silly nature of a guy in spandex fighting a giant lizardman with the hero’s journey that every superhero story strives to tell. Amazing Spider-Man shows the very human mistakes a teenager would make in Peter’s situation that ultimately leads him to become the hero he is: Longing to find out about his parents, shirking his duties as a surrogate son toward his aunt and uncle, wanting to get revenge on that asshole at school, frustration with the lectures he gets from his uncle, regret and sorrow at being the cause of his uncle’s death, seeking retribution for his uncle’s killer, and finally the realization of his purpose in life by helping others with his great power. It is a very effective origin story.
The issue is that it came second. If you take this movie on its own, it’s a very good superhero film and everyone should see it. However, in a purely meta sense, you’re just left thinking that you’ve seen this story told already. It’s been done. It’s superfluous. What’s the point? It can ruin an experience for a person. So it all ultimately depends on what kind of mindset you enter this movie on.
For this new take on the webhead, I give a:
4 out of 5
– Andrew Garfield makes for an excellent Spider-Man
– Action scenes cleverly shot and choreographed
– An excellently told origin story…
– …but is a pretty standard one
– Can feel "been-there, done-that" when viewed along with the first Spider-Man movie
Recommendation: Check It Out
The Amazing Spider-Man is by no means bad. It is a very good movie. The only real issue comes from how you choose to view it. If you’ve never seen the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie, then I think you’d be in for a fun ride.
The Amazing Spider-Man was produced by “Marvel Entertainment” (at least according to Wikipedia) and distributed by Columbia Pictures.