The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man is a dependable revisitation of the superhero series that debuted just a decade ago. The last entry only came out 5 years back and we have already been blessed with a reboot. The current version trods much of the same territory that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man did in 2002. Oh there are some variations this time around. The webs Peter Parker shoots are mechanical devices that he invents instead of a genetic mutation that springs biologically from his body. He’s initially perceived as a menace, not a help, by the police. He’s got a different girlfriend and the villain has changed too. If you feel those are refreshing changes, you will enjoy this a lot more. It’s really a film that should rightfully be deemed a remake over a reboot – like a reheated leftovers with a few savory tidbits for variety.

One area where the movie excels is in the casting. Andrew Garfield has a sarcastic nerd sensibility that is keenly appealing. He nails the excitement of a adolescent coming to grips with his newfound powers, perfectly. It’s hard to explain how he can come off as insecure and confident at the same time, but he does. A good example occurs when Peter humiliates the school bully in front of his friends at basketball practice. There’s glimpses of genuine wit throughout the script. After Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically enhanced spider, he fights back against a group of thugs who are harassing him on a subway. At one point, he casually rests his hand on the shirt of the hoodlum’s girlfriend and he accidentally takes it off with his sticky hands, The scene has a quirky sense of humor. Later when confronted by a car thief with a knife, he drops to his knees in agony and cries “You’ve found my weakness…it’s small knives” right before bombarding the criminal with so many webs he cannot move.

Where the movie falters is in the details. Following the murder of Peter’s Uncle Ben, the direction of the narrative appears to be Spider-Man‘s search for the man who killed his Uncle. He becomes a vigilante of sorts apprehending various suspects that match the description of the killer. But once his father’s old colleague, Dr. Curt Connors, injects test serum into regenerating his absent arm, the story shifts focus. Dr. Connors metamorphosizes into The Lizard, a creature that kind of looks like Louis Gossett Jr. in Enemy Mine. Now all of Spider-Man’s efforts are concentrated on stopping this sociopath. His original mission is dropped and forgotten. The Lizard is a rather perfunctory attempt at fashioning an exciting antagonist right down to his moniker. He’s not particularly memorable. I couldn’t even understand if The Lizard was supposed to be an evil mastermind or some tragic antihero. First he’s a noble scientist helping people with missing limbs, but then he evolves into a malevolent lizard man and he’s out to infect humanity by turning everyone into lizard monsters like himself. Then yet again he returns to being good trying to safely pull our hero up out of harm’s way. I suppose the schizophrenic nature of the villain is something akin to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but it renders his personality confusing and he’s difficult to get excited about.

The Amazing Spider-Man is merely an acceptable update. Fittingly named director Marc Webb doesn’t put a unique stamp on the production to make the web-slinger his own. There isn’t enough inspiration to explain why another interpretation of the same movie needed to be made. It’s just all so familiar. However there are enough flashes of ingenuity to label this an entertaining diversion. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone inhabit their roles beautifully. The romance is stronger in this installment making their relationship the plot’s emotional center. While they’re charismatic characters, the villain is a complete bore. Given 136 minutes of action to fill, he’s not sufficiently compelling to maintain interest. I was constantly checking my watch during the final third. Let’s call this The Adequate Spider Man.

If I may paraphrase the Blocko-Land Announcer’s query in The Simpson’s episode “Hungry Hungry Homer”: So! How much did you LOVE The Amazing Spider-Man!?

It was alright I guess.

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36 Responses to “The Amazing Spider-Man”

  1. I totally agree with you, Mark! I also thought it was weird they didn’t at least revisit his original purpose, and The Lizard was defintely not a true villain. Well-written review!

    • This looks like it’s going to be a big hit with audiences. It just didn’t wow me. At least Emma and Andrew were good. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Yeah, I was kinda disappointed too. Needed more action , less romance. I too, liked Andrew and Emma. Hated the fake looking lizard.

  3. A Spider-Man reboot/remake only five years after the last one. “The Departed” came four years after “Infernal Affairs” and “Let Me In” came two years after “Let the Right One In” – what did you think of those reboot/remakes?

    • Those were great. Of course they were foreign films so a different thing entirely. Much more opportunity to change the source material. Those effectively improved upon the originals in my opinion. This didn’t add anything fresh. Just more of the same.

      P.S. I will say The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake suffered from a feeling of “been there, done that” however.

      • Of course, even if the American remake of foreign films keep the story 100% the same, the advantage is that most Americans won’t watch a movie in a different language (dubbing sucks, and people hate reading subtitles). An American remake allows an American audience to enjoy the story. For those of us who don’t mind watching foreign films, it provides an option. The U.S. isn’t the only country that does this, by the way, as other countries often do remake of American films in their own languages.

    • Of course there’s always a title like Life Is Beautiful or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that’s the exception to the rule and manages to draw crowds.

  4. martin250 Says:

    Great write up mark. was hoping that this would tread mostly on new ground . Its also disappointing to hear the lizard being somewhat perfunctory n not memorable. But three stars should still b a good watch

  5. I liked this movie a lot, but also found it odd that Spidey never locates Ben’s killer, especially after spending so much screen time searching for him. I took it that that sequence was meant to show the evolution of Peter to Spidey more than actually finding closure. Re-doing the origin story at all was pretty pointless, even though it was done well. If Sam Raimi’s films had not been made, then this would have been the definitive Spider-man.

    • I suppose you could say that Peter gave up searching for the killer because he had matured and moved on, but it still was weird how he just dropped the search and didn’t explain why.

      • To most people, that would be considered a plot hole. To Damon Lindelof, that’s called “writing.”

        (Yes, I realize I just made a “Prometheus” and “Lost” joke while talking about Spider-man.)

      • For me, he listened to what Captain Stacy said at the dinner with the Stacy family, when Peter was defending Spider-Man, Stacy said something to the fact that ‘he’s not trying to help, he’s a vigilante, he’s going after guys that all look alike’ – i’m pretty sure he realised then that he had gotten a bit lost.

  6. Going to see this tomorrow. Very excited. I’ll enter with low expectations though. Great review. Love your Simpsons reference at the end. I had no idea you watched that show; it’s my absolute favorite thong currently on TV.

    • My devotion has waned a bit in recent years, but The Simpsons is one of my all-time favorite shows.

      • Yeah, I realize they’ve gotten worse in recent years, but I’m still a diehard fan. I’ve seen The Simpsons Movie 7 or 8 times!! Also, I just realized something: you made a reference to the Simpsons in your Spider-Man review. The Simpsons Movie parodied the Spider-Man song back in 2007. Didn’t know if that was intentional or not.

    • I think The Simpsons have pretty much parodied everything at this point. It was just a nice coincidence, not intentional.

      • You’re right!! If they don’t get a chance to parody pop culture directly, they sure do in the way they title their episodes. Like my favorite is called “To Surveil with Love” and my least favorite is “Apocalypse Cow”. :) Cheers!

    • Ah yes. Great episode. Started out with that killer ‘Tik Tok’ musical opening and it just got better.

  7. That was supposed to be thing. Not thong. Autocorrect n

  8. Ot only corrects wrong, it doesn’t correct what you need corrected. And apparently WordPress has issues with posting my comments too early. Gyah technology

  9. Think we’ll be disagreeing on this one, I think there’s a lot to The Lizard that people haven’t picked up on.

    Though we won’t disagree as much as we did on Rock Of Ages, my review of The Amazing Spider-Man again ended up being a bit on long side, Hope you enjoy reading it as much :) http://wp.me/p1LZxf-Hd

    • Hmmmm well The Lizard was a better bad guy than Dr. Hector Hammond in Green lantern I guess, but definitely the weakest villain I’ve seen in a comic book adaptation since then.

    • The Lizard just felt like a variation on The Green Goblin to me. Isn’t that why The Lizard was doing his research and who he was talking to at the end of the film?

      • It’s been confirmed in interviews that the character at the end isn’t Norman Osborne, he’s a setup for a villain in the sequel.

        It appears that Norman Osborne is ill, and is pushing for results from Connors so he can use his serum to cure himself of whatever ails him. Connors isn’t working to that end, it’s just a way he can get financed to do his work, his goals are to better mankind, remove weakness and make humans stronger.

        The Lizard’s actions all stemmed from Connors good intentions, he just has a machiavellian way of doing things – the greater good outweighs the small one or two bad things. Firstly on the bridge, he’s looking for the Oscorp executive to stop him testing the serum on vulnerable war verterans at the hospital – as long as he gets him, he doesn’t care who may be hurt in the process. Spider-Man interferes and The Lizard, who’s not just a mindless creature (he doesn’t attack unless threatened, and views Spider-Man as a threat), goes after him. Even at the end, his actions were founded in Connors’ intentions to improve humanity, just grossly mis-guided.

  10. I liked The Lizard as the first villain for this Spider-Man. He wasn’t your typical bad guy and he wasn’t memorable, but I look at it as somewhat of a first step for a young Peter Parker who will face tougher challenges as he grows into his new-found role.

  11. Markus Robinson Says:

    spot on!

  12. Good flick but something just felt like it was missing in order for me to feel the same way I did with the Raimi original series. Maybe it was the fact that this flick took its premise very seriously, and the other ones were very jokey and fun. Still, a good time at the theater is a good time none the less. Nice review Mark.

  13. Very honest review. I’m still not sure if I’ll be seeing this in theaters since i’m not very jazzed on the idea of the whole thing. Not that I hold Raimi’s trilogy in such high regard, I just find this film totally superfluous.

  14. Interesting review, Mark! I’ve seen a lot of differing views on this one. I’ll watch it this week.

  15. I’m very disappointed… just came back from seeing this. I would actually give this half a star lower. If you go in for just some entertainment you’ll get something I guess. But in the end it’s meaningless, hope the sequel does better. Excellent review!

  16. moviewriting Says:

    Fantastic review, Mark! I actually really enjoyed the new Spider-Man and I wasn’t expecting to. My other half is a huge Spider-Man fan boy so I had high expectations, and luckily they met them for me. It helped that Garfield and Stone are so incredibly likeable!

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