This past May, after seeing The Avengers, I could remember not being overly excited about The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises. After Whedon’s epic, it was hard to imagine a comic book movie in an isolated universe living up to what the Marvel Cinematic Universe was able to accomplish by embracing what made the books so great. Spidey fans were burned three times by Sam Raimi and crew, and with most of the same producers involved with the reboot, why should they turn out for this one? Because The Amazing Spider-Man is the first true representation of the Peter Parker/Spider-Man character ever produced for the big screen.
The unfortunate fact that The Amazing Spider-Man is faced with is the reboot cloud hanging over it. If you want to know how I feel about it, you can read this. I will reiterate here that I feel that it’s a shame that far too many cynical “fanboys” on Internet sites are bashing the movie for being a reboot and cursing the cast and crew for daring to replace the holy Raimi trilogy.
As Spider-Man movies, the Raimi trilogy were failures. They raked in the cash because the general public just wanted to see a rubbery Spider-Man fly around the screen in early 2000′s CG. But they weren’t true Spider-Man movies. I detail some of the big problems in what I wrote about the reboot, and thankfully this movie fixes most of them.
Andrew Garfield pulls a Christopher Reeve with his Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Just as Reeve was the perfect film presence of Superman, Garfield nails both the mannerisms of Parker and the attitude of Spider-Man. Parker is the insecure nerd in school, but not a whiny little bitch like Maguire was. His Spider-Man is the wise-cracking webslinger from the comics, who can’t keep his mouth shut in a fight. You’ve seen the scene with the car thief, and later when Spidey is fighting The Lizard he’s running his mouth off as he should be. Finally seeing the real comic book Spider-Man on the big screen was a huge joy, and they cast the perfect person in the part.
I’ve been saying even since Comic Con last year that Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy brought to life. She looks so much like the Gwen from the comics that it actually made me sad more than once in the movie. There are sweet, innocent, scenes between her and Peter but then you realize her tragic fate and sadness comes. I don’t think that was intentional, but it’s a side effect for fans who are familiar with the all-to-important Gwen Stacy saga.
The Lizard has always been my favorite Spider-Man villain. In the comics, Curt Connors and Peter had a strong relationship and that bond was one of the only redeeming qualities in the Raimi movies; specifically the second one. Unfortunately, this is really the only problem I had with Mark Webb’s version as there simply wasn’t enough time to establish the friendship between him and Peter. That was a really big part of what made the character in the comics so good, and it’s kind of wasted here.
The movie takes its time to go through the origin. Yes, we’ve seen it done before, but it’s handled a bit differently here and we definitely get to see the genius Peter Parker is. That’s a huge piece of the character that was completely absent from the Raimi movies and here it’s a big part. From Peter knowing how to fix something in the basement for Uncle Ben, him showing up Curt Connors with a formula, to creating his own webshooters…this is the Peter we’ve known for the last fifty years.
People have pointed out how Sally Field doesn’t look like Aunt May at all, but that doesn’t matter too much. She isn’t given anything to do here other than react to what’s going on the TV. Martin Sheen, on the other hand, delivers a more believable Uncle Ben and we get more time to know him before his fate comes to pass, which is another improvement over the Raimi movies.
And with all of the improvements over the previous Spider-Man movies, the most important one is this really feels like a Spider-Man story. The other films just felt too corny and felt like there were too many cooks in the kitchen. If you don’t believe that, Spider-Man 3 is concrete evidence of it with the whole shoe-horning of Venom into the plot.
James Horner handled the score, and if you’re familiar with Horner he tends to reuse cues a lot. The Mark of Zorro sounds like Willow 2 most of the time. While he delivers a surprisingly strong theme for Spidey here that’s almost as good as Silvestri’s Avengers theme, you will hear bits and cues that will remind you of Avatar and Wrath of Khan in parts.
For me, the most important thing about the movie is that it got both Peter and Gwen so perfect. In a movie about Spider-Man, thats really all that matters. If you can avoid being distracted by the people bashing it for being a reboot, you’ll actually find the best Spider-Man movie yet and if you’re not a reader of the Spidey comics; you’ll see the first real big screen version of the character.
The Amazing Spider-Man is an amazing start to what I hope will be a long film series.