Rental Review - The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), PG-13, 136 minutes - When The Amazing Spider-Man was first announced, I had the same thought that a good majority of people had at the time: 'it has only been three or four years since Spider-Man 3, do they really need to reboot the franchise so soon?'  Then they announced that Marc Webb would be directing (I thoroughly enjoyed his (500) Days of Summer from 2009).  Then shortly thereafter the announcements that The Social Network's breakout Andrew Garfield would be Peter Parker and personal favorite Emma Stone would play Gwen Stacy (as Peter's original love interest as she was in the comics).  At that point I knew that I was on board with a Spidey reboot, even if we weren't all that far removed from Sam Raimi's trilogy.

If I was 'all-in' so to speak, you might be wondering why it has taken me five months to get a review posted. Well, The Amazing Spider-Man came out the week of the July 4th holiday this past summer, and those who live in the area will remember that was about four days after we were hit by a derecho (straight-line wind storm), knocking out power for hours in every direction.  Our house was one of the unfortunate homes to be without power for a whopping twelve days.  As you can imagine, hitting up a new movie wasn't exactly a priority while my fiance and I (and our pets) were living out of her parent's basement!  So I missed Spidey swinging through theaters and had to wait for the blu-ray release this week.

Despite the wait, I wasn't disappointed.  I'm still not convinced that a franchise reboot was necessary this soon after the original trilogy, but I do feel that it was done well.  The Amazing Spider-Man tells Spider-Man's origin story once again.  This time around it pulls more heavily from Marvel's Ultimate Universe (an alternate comic universe that Marvel introduced in order to tell stories with classic characters without being bogged down by years and years of continuity).  In this retelling, Peter's father was a scientist for Oscorp where he worked with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) on trying to combine DNA sequences from different species in an attempt to make humans stronger.  After a break in at their house when Peter was still a child (in an attempt to steal his father's research), his parents leave him with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) before disappearing.  Years later, while trying to help his uncle clean up after their freezer flooded their basement, Peter finds his father's old attache case.  In it he discovers documents from the project his father had been working on with Dr. Connors.  This causes Peter to track down Connors, which is where the story really takes off.

The cast overall is really quite good.  Garfield's take on Peter Parker is a little more introverted and awkward than Tobey Maguire's  in the original trilogy but where the difference is most noticeable is behind the mask of Spider-Man.  Garfield's version is more true to the comics, chatty and sarcastic, even mocking at times.   Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy is straight from the pages of a John Romita, Sr drawn comic.  But she doesn't just look the part, she makes you believe that she is Peter's intellectual equal and that she can hold her own with her Police Captain father. Speaking of which, I really liked Leary as Captain Stacy.  He was intimidating and protective when he needed to be, but realistic and understanding at times as well.  Martin Sheen and Sally Field aren't too shabby as Uncle Ben and Aunt May either.  They both delivered the sense of caring, sternness (Uncle Ben) and compassion (Aunt May) that Peter needed at different points in the film.  I felt like Rhys Ifans was good as Dr. Connors, but The Lizard seemed somewhat lacking as a villain.  This may have been due to the character design and the CG used to create him.  Unlike the Hulk in The Avengers, where you could see Rob Ruffalo's likeness, The Lizard didn't resemble or sound like Ifans at all.  That may be a little nit-picky, but it did take away from the character for me.

I almost feel like the title to this film should have been Ultimate Spider-Man after the comic.  It draws heavily on that book's variation of Spider-Man's origin, and a title such as that may have made it easier to explain the change in actors/actresses portraying the characters.  With Spidey's film rights being held by Sony, it isn't like they needed to worry about fitting Spider-Man into the current Marvel cinematic universe (and even if they did, Marvel appears to be drawing equally from their standard and Ultimate universes in their films).  The Amazing Spider-Man is a pretty good film .  It's biggest downfall is that it is just five years removed from  such a popular and successful trilogy (Spider-Man 3 went a little off track, but you get my point).  What it did succeed in was introducing us to Andrew Garfield's Spidey with an entertaining tale that paves the way for a sequel or two in its own right.  It will be interesting to see where the story leads in the already announced The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014).  If you haven't seen The Amazing Spider-Man yet, I'd say that it is worth giving a look.

I didn't want to compare and contrast Amazing with the original Spider-Man too much, but I am interested to hear what anyone else thought?  As usual, I have a few spoilery thoughts/comments posted below.


Any problems that I mention below are mostly just comic book nerd nit-pickyness.  I really did enjoy the film...

- The biggest problem that I had with The Amazing Spider-Man was that it didn't include Uncle Ben's famous phrase 'with great power comes great responsibility'.  He gave Peter a speech about how his dad felt that responsibility was important, so the basic point was there but they didn't word it the same way.  I know that this was a reboot with an entire new cast and all but I don't see the need for omitting such an integral phrase from the movie.

- While The Lizard didn't really impress me too much, I did like Rhys Ivans as Dr. Curt Connors.  Especially his initial stance not to perform human testing, then his struggle with it when virtually forced by Norman Osborn's 'goon'.

- Speaking of Osborn, I also liked how they rebooted the franchise without using the Green Goblin as the go to bad guy.  It would have been very difficult to differentiate films had they gone that route.

- I absolutely loved the fact that they went back to the mechanical Peter Parker built web shooters.  The organic web shooters from the previous trilogy never felt right.  I wasn't a big fan of how they lit up every time they were used though.  It was a bit distracting.  But hey, I won't complain about that too much!

- I really liked the scene in the sewer when Peter made a giant web and just hung out until vibrations on the web alerted him of something going on.  It was a unique use for his powers.

- I'm a little bit disappointed that they used Peter's parents as a key story element to get things moving then never explored their disappearance any further.  Hopefully that will be touched on more in the sequel.  Especially since they were mentioned in the post credits scene.

- There was speculation upon the film's release that the man speaking to Dr. Connors in the post credits scene was Electro.  Since that time, Jamie Foxx has been rumored for that part in the sequel.  The man speaking to Connors didn't even remotely look or sound like Foxx so I'm hoping that they are not meant to be the same guy.  My guess is that Connors was being spoken to by Osborn or another of his men.

- I thought that Peter's way of telling Gwen that he was Spider-Man was clever.  He told her that it was hard to say so he just showed her instead.

- I still can't get over just how perfect Emma Stone's look fit the part of Gwen Stacy.  The costume designers got the look spot on.

- The Spider-Man point of view shots and following along as he swung around on webbing were nice touches.

- At first I wasn't sure that I liked Sally Field as Aunt May, but by the end of the film, I thought that she embodied the Aunt May that I was used to from the comics.

- I liked how Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) started the movie as a bully to Peter, but as it progressed became less of a threat and more of an acquaintance (dare I say friend).  

- How could I forget Stan Lee's cameo!?  I think that it is probably my second favorite cameo of his from a Marvel based movie (second only to the one in Thor).


  1. I actually really liked the reboot and preferred Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker. He seemed to whine less? But I agree, the Lizard didn't have enough depth. How are you going to have a sarcastic Spidey go up against a baddy with pretty much no personality? Tucker also preferred this version, but he's also a fan of Marvel's Ultimate Universe, having come into comic book age at about the time they really started rebooting everything.

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head Sarah! I was trying to put my finger on just what it was, but this portrayal of Peter is definitely less whiney. Glad someone else enjoyed this one too!


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