Bottom Line: The Amazing Spider-Man is not quite amazing, but it is rather enjoyable.
Directed by: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Campbell Scott, Chris Zylka, Denis Leary, Embeth Davidtz, Emma Stone, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field
Those who watch THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN with expectations of an action-packed superhero movie will be sorrowfully disappointed. A reboot to the series that began a decade ago, the film is structured similarly to 2005’s BATMAN BEGINS. We don’t see our hero actually suited up and referred to as Spider-Man until at least fifty minutes have passed. There’s a good reason for this, too. The one thing truly amazing about THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is that it does what Sam Raimi’s original SPIDER-MAN could not even dare to do. A decent back story is provided, explaining everything going on in Peter Parker’s life. We earn a clear and strong look at what he deals with every day, at his high school and at home, which provides a more dramatic taste to the events that occur later in the film.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN accounts Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), seemingly your typical introverted teenager. He is facing bullies every day at his high school, fascinated with photography, and involved with his first crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). At home, he is curious about why his parents disappeared when he was young. While searching around his Aunt May and Uncle Ben’s house, he finds his secretive father’s briefcase, a clue that leads him to a scientific research lab called Oscorp, where his father’s former partner Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) works. As he searches the building, Peter is bitten by a rare spider, granting him the ability to scale buildings, shoot webs, and perform other actions of which spiders are capable. After Dr. Connors accidentally transforms himself into a destructive lizard, Peter makes the decision to use his powers to become a hero named Spider-Man.
The title assigned to this reboot is a bit too promising. It’s as if the film is made to seem greatly superior to the original SPIDER-MAN flick, which it is not. However, Andrew Garfield’s rendition of the title character is most certainly amazing compared to Tobey Maguire’s previous portrayal. In every scene, Garfield is giving his best effort, and he actually seems like his character. Maguire claimed to be a science nerd and claimed to have affection for Mary Jane—the girlfriend in the originating films, for those who aren’t familiar with the franchise—but he never seemed to express any of it. There is a heavily noticeable of humor in the script, unfortunately, which seems to bring Garfield’s version over the top a bit. Even some of the most significantly explanatory scenes (most of which detail Parker attempting to use his superpowers successfully) are ruined by unnecessary humor. I had the same problem with THE AVENGERS. In my opinion, comic book doesn’t necessarily denote the publication being comical, so why should an adaptation be so comical? Another character affected by the humor, and probably the most, is the Lizard. Rhys Ifans delivers a steady performance as Dr. Connors, but as his alter ego, humor isn’t just unnecessary, it is also unintentional. The voice acting is flat, and on top of that, he often looked stop animated. Which is funny because there was actually a slight allusion to Japanese “Godzilla” films made at one point in the film.
When everything comes down to entertainment, I’d say THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN works pretty well. The film also flowed with a perfect pacing, as I cannot recall ever being bored while watching it. The film never quite becomes exhilarating, but it is quite exciting, especially during the action sequences. Once Peter is suited up as Spider-Man, they become more and more frequent, leading up to the final fifteen-minutes of nothing but intense, action-packed excitement. By comparative standards, this isn’t quite as memorable as the original SPIDER-MAN, nor is it as well-written, but it is a decent amount of fun.