Like any responsible geek I attended the midnight screening of The Amazing Spider-Man reboot earlier this morning in IMAX 3D, and while it shines at times I couldn’t help but feel a little let down by the overall experience. I, like many Marvel fans, wondered if a Spider-Man reboot was really necessary at this point in time considering that we lived through three (well maybe two) successful Spidey films starring Tobey Maguire just a few years ago. It just felt too soon to rehash the origin story of Peter Parker, but Sony must not have thought so because they enlisted the likes of Marc Webb, Andrew Garfield, and Emma Stone to retell the familiar tale of how Spider-Man came to be.
Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man just didn’t feel, well, amazing. It had some high points, but overall the film just felt less like an action movie, and more like a teenage young love film with some comic book lore tied to it. Please continue on for the full review to see if this is a reboot that you should take in.
The Amazing Spider-Man
EB 7 out of 10 Buddhas
Should you watch it: Maybe (Depends on your level of fandom)
Minor plot spoilers throughout.
The Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield (Parker/Spidey) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacey), for the most part retells the origin story that we saw only 10 years ago in the Spider-Man film by Sam Raimi. Peter Parker is an odd teen who gets bit by a radioactive spider which in turn gives him great power. At first he doesn’t realize what comes with having this level of power, but through some unfortunate circumstances he realizes that with great power comes great responsibility.
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker exploring his new abilities
This concept has been done before, recently in fact, so I didn’t feel like I learned anything new in regards to Spider-Man’s origin. Considering that the marketing campaign for this reboot touted “an untold story” I was let down to find out that I was more or less watching the 2002 version of Spider-Man, albeit with a new cast, and super villain in The Lizard. To me there was nothing untold about this movie’s plot. Outside of a lingering tease about the fate of Peter’s father, there really isn’t a major difference in The Amazing Spider-Man’s origin story than the one we saw 10 years ago. This fact is the first major disappointment that I experienced while watching the film, but not the last.
The Amazing Spider-Man to me is a fantastic comic book character with a snappy wit, and kick-a*s powers, but not some Dawson’s Creek-like character who is full of teen angst and love. This is more or less Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man. To no fault of his own of course. Andrew actually does a great acting job in this movie, but the script he had to go off of made Peter Parker seem more like a emo teen than the web slinging aficionado that we know him to be. I think Webb and the film’s writers spent way too much time developing the character of Peter Parker and his love interest, rather than focusing on what fans want, which is ACTION!
I need more of this than dialogue in a Spider-Man movie
This movie felt devoid of the above comic book movie requirement for the most part. There are way too many down moments in The Amazing Spider-Man to consider it as an action film. Like I mentioned it’s more Can’t Hardly Wait than The Avengers, which is a major disappointment to me. When I saw the IMAX 3D trailers for this movie I honestly was wowed by its action set pieces. I was anticipating an almost amusement park ride experience on the giant screen while I watched Spider-Man sling around NYC, but I really didn’t get that payoff until the last 30 minutes of the film.
The entire first half is only sprinkled with some action as Peter learns to hone his new found skills. Again, we’ve seen this before, almost to a “T” in the 2002 version of Spider-Man’s origin. It felt stale and unoriginal, not that a movie should alter comic book character origin tales, but the fact that this story has already been told, I just felt like I was re-watching something that I already knew. The on screen chemistry between Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield is potent, and neither does a bad job acting by any means. There is just too much of them together, and not enough Spider-Man saving the day.
The chemistry between these two is evident, hence the reason they’re boning in real life
Like I said, Garfield, for the most part (way too skinny), plays a great Peter Parker/Spider-Man, but this movie features him as Parker far too often. I want to see Spider-Man kicking butt and taking names, and swinging through the city with reckless abandon. I don’t want to see him getting emotional with his girlfriend for the majority of the movie, and that’s how this film’s plot is setup. Wank.
This is a sad realization too, because the last 3 minutes of the movie finally show off how awesome Spider-Man can be with a great web swinging tour of NYC. Watching the closing frame I finally felt like I was seeing the Spider-Man movie that I came to see two hours earlier. The effects were great, and the IMAX screen made me feel as if I were doing a little web slinging myself. In this moment I finally saw Garfield as the new Spider-Man, and an awesome one at that, but it was a “day late and a dollar short” feeling. I wish the movie spent more time exploring Spider-Man in this manner rather than the long winded dialogue scenes featuring Peter Parker, Gwen Stacey, or Dr. Connors, the main villain in the film.
Loved this closing scene from The Amazing Spider-Man
Speaking of the villain in The Amazing Spider-Man I felt like he wasn’t given a fair shake. The story of Connor’s transition from Scientist to Lizard seemed like an oversight in this movie. At one moment Connors is a very concerned doctor who wants nothing to do with advanced human testing of his cross-breed super serum (he believes humans and animals can be spliced to the benefit of everyone with some form of ailment), and then before you know it he’s shooting himself up on a regular basis to become the Lizard. We never get to see his motivations for unleashing the concoction into the atmosphere outside of some mumblings to himself that he wants everyone in the world to be perfect. This progression from good doctor to giant Lizard just seemed rushed and under developed.
Dr. Connors goes from level headed scientist to a deranged Lizard man without much explanation
Again this is another factor that played into the light-on-action feeling that this movie gave off to me. I wanted to learn more about the Lizard and Dr. Connors, but I didn’t feel like the director gave that to me. Like a majority of this film even the main antagonist felt secondary to the relationship between Parker and Stacey. If The Amazing Spider-Man is supposed to be a teenage romance film with some super powers sprinkled in, then Webb nailed it. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is what many comic book fans are looking for in a Spider-Man movie. I know I’m not. I wanted to see epic showdowns between Spidey and the Lizard that made my eyes feel like they were melting in my skull. Instead I got an unevenly paced film about teen love and struggle, with just a little bit of awesome action sprinkled in.
When it’s all said and done The Amazing Spider-Man just didn’t payoff for me. I thought the cast was great, and they all did fine jobs as actors, but the material they had to work with isn’t up to par. Marc Webb spent way too much time developing the character of Peter Parker and his emotional journey in becoming Spider-Man, rather than getting to the meaty web slinging action that we associate with the character. It’s disappointing because this movie does show signs of greatness at times. This is especially clear towards the end when the action actually starts to ramp up to the comic book movie standards that we’ve come to expect from Marvel movies.
Literally, the last frame gave me chills, because it features an amazing shot of Spidey doing what he does best. I just wish this “Ah huh!” moment came about an hour earlier. For its mishaps I have to give The Amazing Spider-Man an EB 7 out of 10 Buddhas. It’s not a bomb by any means, but considering that we’ve been there done that before with Spider-Man, and the recent in flux of killer comic book movies like The Avengers, I just wasn’t wowed enough to give a damn. Hopefully if there’s a sequel it’ll showcase more of what I saw towards the end of this movie, because I think this rebooted franchise shows promise, but it just wasn’t done justice in its opener. You’ve been needing to see this one for yourself, because I think certain types of movie fans will love it…
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