THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)
With a sequel looming hours away, I thought I’d take a look back at the initial installment of this reboot series…
I liked Raimi’s Spider-man movies, especially the first two. So, I was a bit apprehensive about The Amazing Spider-Man, but went in to this reboot with an open mind. While there are problems here and the film has flaws, it also has great potential and Andrew Garfield does a terrific job delivering a fresh take on Peter Parker/Spidey. Since my biggest problem was with the retelling of the origin, that bodes well for the next movie, if done right. The problem I had with the origin is not that it is done a bit differently, but to be honest, I don’t think it really clicked. It seemed clunky and awkward and it just didn’t grab me. They were trying to bring together elements concerning Parker’s father and Peter himself into the main story and it seemed a bit forced, it didn’t drag me in. Another part of the origin that didn’t work for me was his relationship with his Uncle Ben. As Uncle Ben is also an important part of Peter’s transformation, their relationship needed to be stronger and I never got a real sense of how important they were to each other. One of the reasons is, I felt that the usually terrific Martin Sheen was miscast here. He just doesn’t give Ben the charm and quiet strength that Cliff Robertson brought in the Raimi trilogy that made his importance to Peter believable. Their relationship isn’t given much screen time and It never strongly establishes their bond. Sally Field’s Aunt May fairs better although, once the plot is in full swing, she doesn’t get to do more then look concerned as Peter comes home at odd hours with some battle scars from his superhero activities.
The film really doesn’t come together and really start to work till Parker begins to establish himself as Spider-Man and his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) starts to form. Here director Marc Webb (A guy named Webb directs a Spider-Man movie, how’s that for a happy accident.) really brings it together and delivers. Garfield and Stone are great together and have a great chemistry. Stone is far more interesting then Dunst as Mary Jane and makes a far better match for Peter and a far spunkier heroine, who doesn’t stand on the sidelines waiting to be captured by the villain of the week. Gwen gives Peter a much needed emotional positivity in his troubled life and it’s easy to believe that she gives him the strength to be a true hero and much more then just the wisecracking vigilante he starts out as. Not that that stage isn’t fun, too. Rhys Ifans is fine as the noble Dr. Curt Connors whose quest to better the lives of the handicapped, including himself, leads to his emergence as the Lizard. Connors could have been a bit more threatening to a degree, but it worked for me that his core intensions were still good, despite being twisted by the Lizard’s rage and the maddening effects of the serum. He wants to turn us all into lizards with the best of intentions…add sarcasm. His CGI alter ego was impressive and came across as a dangerous foe for our freshman superhero. The numerous confrontations between the two were well done and escalated nicely till the big finale which really soars and Webb surprises us with how well he presented the action, as his last film was a small indie romance. Let us not forget a really good turn by Denis Leary as Gwen’s dad, Captain Stacy. He has minimal screen time, but gives us a well rounded characterization that adds importance and weight to the scenes he’s in. This is what Sheen failed to do for me, make an impression and add depth to the story in the few scenes he was in. And I have always liked Sheen.
So, in conclusion, after a weak and somewhat clunky first act, the movie comes together and gives us what we came for. Andrew Garfield shines as the troubled yet brilliant Peter Parker and successfully takes an awkward teen and transforms him into a noble hero and gives us a fresh new take on a familiar character, that we can’t wait to see more of. There was spectacular action and drama and at the core a strong relation ship between Peter and Gwen that we also want to see more of. So, while Amazing Spider-Man is a flawed film, it’s potential for the future of this new direction has us anticipating what comes next, now that the characters and their possible directions are established. Bring it on!…and stay during the credits folks!