I saw The Amazing Spider-Man over the weekend with my ol’ chum Manny, so here are my thoughts!
It’s been beaten to death online that the movie is unnecessary. But it’s still true. This movie teaches us the origins of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, except most of America already knows his origin. His origins were already explained to us in a movie barely 10 years ago. We needed ANOTHER Spider-Man origin like we need another Superman origin (oh dang, they’re working on THAT too!)
Okay, that gripe aside, how is the film? It actually holds up pretty well. It is not as good as Spider-Man 1 or 2, but it’s still a descent flick in it’s own right, and it’s a helluva lot better then Spider-Man 3. While it’s not as good as some of the previous Spidey flicks, there ARE things it does better. There are also things it does worse, and there are things it does…. different.
On the better side of things, characterization (with one glaring exception) and casting. Sorry Toby, but I think Andrew Garfield fits the role better, and makes for a more believable Spidey. One thing I liked about Spider-Man here, it takes the whole movie for him to learn something Toby Maguire learns in 10 minutes in the first film. The Spider-Man mantra, “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. While these words aren’t actually spoken in the film, the movie is in large part about him learning this exact lesson. In Toby’s first outing, his uncle died, and boom, he’d learned his lesson. Here, he actually has an arc. Even after his uncle dies, he is more concerned with revenge, then actually taking responsibility for anything. Seeing him actually grow into a hero rather then just becoming one is nice. Also appreciated is his new love interest, Gwen Stacey. Before this film, I was not that up on Spider-Man mythos, but now I see why many people say Gwen was the love of Spidey’s life rather then Mary Jane. And it doesn’t hurt that she is played by Emma Stone, who is quite frankly a better actress then Kirsten Dunst. Even better, Andrew and Emma actually have very good chemistry. Martin Sheen comes off quite well as the new Uncle Ben, and Dennis Leary is great as Captain Stacey, both Gwen’s father and the police officer responsible for catching Spider-Man, who is viewed by the police as a vigilante operating outside the law.
So, bad stuff. The story does not gel too well. Much of it feels a little disjointed, and plot threads are left dangling. It still works for the most part, and the good characterizations mitigate a lot of it, but it ultimately feels like a lot has been cut out, and its pacing is nothing compared to the original. Also coming off not to good is the villain, The Lizard. He seems to have no real goal or motivation other then making everyone awesome, which for some reason is done by turning them into lizard people. He comes across as a shallow copy of Green Goblin from Spider-Man, and is a major week point in the film.
Now, the different stuff, the stuff I’m not sure what to make of. Spider-Man now has an unrevealed backstory. His parents worked with Dr. Connors when Spidey was a kid, and discovered something, and then vanished (dying in a plane crash?) Nothing more then that is really revealed, but the way it’s presented makes it feel like something out of a Harry Potter flick. Not surprising Steve Kloves is one of the writers of the film (he wrote all but one of the Harry Potter films) This isn’t necessarily bad, but I have no idea where they are going with it, and the movie doesn’t really say, making us wait for the supposed sequel. Judging from the post credit sequence, they will be picking this thread up again in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with perhaps Mysterio as the villain (hard to tell who it’s supposed to be, he is covered in shadow, but his appearance and disappearance suggests Mysterio, and I think that would be awesome)
Like I said, not quite as good as the first two, but it’s strong enough to restart the franchise, so I still recommend it.
Overall, 7 out of 10.