Here’s where I stand.
Spider-Man is cool, but not my favorite super hero. To me, it’s like, “Oh neat, there’s Spider-man. That’s cool, I guess.” I’ve always felt he was a big whiner. And he is always whining about problems he created. That said, I enjoyed the first two Sam Raimi movies. I wasn’t like, “Woah, I <3 Spider-Man!” or anything after I watched them, but I thought they were good. Kirsten Dunst annoyed me, but it was good. The third movie was more of the same except Venom sucked and Sandman looked awesome. Suffice to say, I was just lukewarm about the new Spider-Man, but it had promise.
Emma Stone was gonna be in it and Andrew Garfield too. But then a CG Lizard? And it felt so soon off of the heels of the last Spider-Man movie. Did we really need a reboot already?
Emma Stone is really frickin’ cute, but that doesn’t mean she can act. It also doesn’t mean she is a bad actress either. Andrew Garfield was really good in The Social Network, but he was a side character and I wasn’t sure how much appeal he has outside of that movie. Marc Webb was directing and really has only directed a Green Day concert, a No Doubt concert, and an indie film (500 Days of Summer) that was getting some buzz. MIXED FEELINGS!
So I finally got into the theatre, sat down and put on some 3-D glasses, and went, “Okay, Spider-Man… Wow me“. The end result? Read on mes amis, read on.
Let’s start with the 3-D. It was good, but nothing you haven’t seen before. So if you don’t want to pay extra for it, you will still get the same viewing experience.
The movie started and like normal, Peter Parker is all like, “I take pictures of stuff and occasionally get picked on at school, despite me being witty and fairly handsome.” But, this movie immediately gets a high-five for not boring me to death with a lot of Peter Parker high school drama. There is just enough there to set up the scene and then BAM! Peter Parker has become Spider-Man before you know it. The Raimi movies dragged a little bit and dealt with Spider-Man: High School Edition too much for my taste. Marc Webb really stream-lined the whole thing, since everyone already knows the Spider-Man story. It gets to the good stuff quickly.
Oh cool, Martin Sheen plays Uncle Ben. Good choice! Nuff’ said.
Andrew Garfield ending up being a great choice for Peter Parker, in my opinion. He is a skilled actor and adds a believability to the part. It’s strange though… Spider-Man always seems very “quippy”, so to say, in the comics. Very charismatic. But Garfield’s take on it is a little more mature. He’s very calm and sarcastic, but it never feels like he is hopped up on sugar like how I picture Spider-Man in my head. I like it, I think. There’s a strange sexuality to his version of Peter Parker. He is supposed to be geeky, but he comes off as more of a “bad boy”. Still… once again… I like it, I think.
Spider-Man in the actual suit is done well and it never feels like you are watching a CG Spider-man swing everywhere like in the Raimi films. The web-slingy thing-a-ma-bobbers are pretty cool, but it never explains how they can shoot infinitely forward without losing height or velocity (the movie hangs a lantern on this when two “nerds” walk by discussing this very thing). It does however explain how they are so strong (synthetic Oscorp technology).
The fights are very fun to watch, and utilize all of Spider-Man’s abilities. They really went out-of-the-way to showcase how diverse Spider-Man’s fighting tactics can be.
On to Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. She nailed it, plain and simple. She’s cute, smart, and an endearing character. One of my favorite moments of the film is the inevitable kiss. The Amazing Spider-Man tackled this with class, and also did what movies are supposed to do… show instead of telling. Gwen Stacy never has to be told Peter Parker is Spider-man. Through a clever scene, it is simply shown instead. This is also done with Aunt May. She never has to be told that Peter is Spider-man. She just gradually comes to a realization as the movie progresses.
Dennis Leary does a decent job as Gwen Stacy’s father/Police captain although he feels like he is phoning it in here and there.
Rhys Ifans plays the Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors. The only other movie you would probably know him from is Harry Potter (Luna Lovegood’s father). He does a good job although I never quite bought his torment of missing a limb, but he still did his part. It should be noted his make-up was well done, with his flesh in varying degrees of scaly textures.
Now the CG lizard, which I was most concerned about…. well, it’s hit or miss, but I’d say 85% of the time it looked good. There are a couple times where he looks clearly CG, but it never really hurt the experience for me. They also managed to give the Lizard a few sneaky horror moments where he pops out of certain places. I liked it.
These are all the characters that really matter, and is probably one of the movies strong points. It focused on just a few main characters instead of spreading itself too thin.
The plot is straight-forward. Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man, falls in love with Gwen Stacy, Dr. Connors becomes the lizard and wants to make others into lizard people, and Spider-man attempts to stop him. But it was well executed, and that’s what mattered. It hits all the right notes and hints at some mysterious things for sequels.
The cinematography is nice, with a beautiful blend of dark blues and an overall darkly lit movie (although the tone of the movie is never depressing). There isn’t a lot of cameras following Spider-Man swinging through the city like in the Raimi films (although there are a few moments during key dramatic scenes), but instead the camera chooses to stay very tight and focused on close up Spider-man action.
Over all, the excellent direction of Marc Webb and the fine acting of Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy make this movie what it needs to be. The lizard is a fun enemy with a summer blockbuster feel to him, although I doubt we will be seeing much too more of him in sequels.
I give The Amazing Spider-man an 8 out of 10 for being fun, exciting, and well executed. If you love Spider-Man you will enjoy this film, and if you are on the fence you will enjoy it too. I now have faith in this reboot and I am excited to see them tackle what we all want to see in a sequel…. Venom or Carnage.
P.S. – Green Goblin is hinted at for next movie.