There is a danger in The Amazing Spider-Man. And no, it’s not that Dr. Curt Connors is the Lizard is going crazy on New York City. The danger is that 10 years ago Sam Raimi made Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 and that those movies are beloved by most people.
In some people’s minds, The Amazing Spider-Man is an unnecessary film that shouldn’t exist. That’s great, but it does exist. And because it exists it’s time to look at the movie and judge it based on itself, not based on outside forces that it (and the filmmakers) can’t control.
Having said that, this movie is good. The writing team smartly went a little deeper into the backstory of Spider-Man and changed some things so it doesn’t feel exactly the same. We’re introduced to Parker’s parents and how that affects him in high school. We also see more of Uncle Ben, played well by Martin Sheen.
In fact, the entire cast is pretty good here. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are especially magnetic when on screen. Their chemistry together is superb. No wonder the two ended up in a real-life relationship. Before the film came out, Garfield made it known to people that the web head was a huge part of his childhood and that he revered the character. Hell, the dude pretty much cried talking about it at Comic-Con. And he admits to crying when putting on the suit for the first time.
So it’s no surprise that Garfield is pretty commanding on screen. And yes, he’s able to convey the smart-aleck Spidey that has been missing from the big screen. Yes folks, despite what you remember of Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, Spider-Man is a smart-aleck wisecrack-machine.
Webb juggles a couple different threads in the film. There’s a romance between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker, there’s Uncle Ben, Aunt May and Parker’s parents, there’s the Lizard and there’s Spider-Man trying to avoid the cops because he’s technically a vigilante. These things come together quite nicely. The romance has quite a few tender, cute and charming moments, which is no surprise because Webb tackled (500) Days of Summer. Parker’s family is handled well, and is especially aided by the performances of Sheen and Garfield.
I do need to point out that Spidey’s fighting moves are quite impressive. He uses his webbing to great effect here, and is able to maneuver around enemies with style. It’s amazingly fun to watch, and it’ll have you wondering how he could work along with Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk.
The two problems? The Lizard is a largely OK villain and although interesting, I feel like they could have done more with Spidey as a vigilante. Firstly, The Lizard looks like a Koopa Trooper from that crappy Super Mario Bros. movie. Secondly, he feels a tad rushed. Rhys Ifans does his best, but a more rounded villain would have elevated this from merely good to great.
Oh, and the Spidey vigilante stuff can actually get pretty tense at times. Unfortunately, it’s compounded and there’s not enough of it. I honestly would have been fine if they got rid of The Lizard and just focused on Parker, Stacy and the cops and set up Lizard for the inevitable sequel.
But The Lizard is there. And what is there is definitely passable and pretty entertaining. Again, it’s not that the dude is a terrible villain, it’s just that he could have been absolutely fantastic had they wrote it a little better. A stronger motivation definitely would have helped.
That definitely shouldn’t distract you from watching this new film. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser. People in my audience were oohing, aahing and cheering. And to top it all off, they gave the film a hearty applause after with some appreciative yeahs. It’s an entertaining film and a good Spider-Man movie.
Note: I’m sure you’re wondering whether this is better or worse than the first two Raimi films. Well, it’s not better than Spider-Man 2. As for the first? It’s pretty close. This movie is a bit darker and goes for the “based in reality” thing that Batman Begins did (he makes his web shooters, for example). While Spider-Man is a little more dramatic.