Amazing Spider-Man Review

I saw “The Amazing Spider-Man” yesterday. Here’s my One Sentence Review:

While TASM doesn’t really give us anything “new”, it does provide a fun moviegoing experience full of big-screen super heroics and spidey-sense-tingling excitement.

For more, see me after the jump. Warning, though, here there be spoilers!

The most common complaint you hear about “The Amazing Spider-Man” relies on the idea that it isn’t anything new, that it’s a redundant retelling of the same story we’ve already seen too many times before.

Which is both true and irrelevant.

Yes, this is essentially the same movie as the Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst version ten years ago with a fresh coat of paint on it. So what? It’s still fun, there are enough differences to keep it interesting, and we have a new villain to watch. If you’re looking to escape the summer heat for a couple of hours of air conditioned popcorn-munching super heroic action, this is a good bet.

In general, I’d say it’s on par with the original movie. The actors all turn in solid performances and the action is fun. My wife was clutching my arm at several points, which is always a bonus. I thought they did a great job recreating some of the dynamism and funky acrobatics that gave the early Steve Ditko comics so much life and fun, which was a step up from the previous iterations.

I felt like it dragged a little in parts, but maybe that’s just because we’re all so familiar with the basic outlines of the origin. I sort of wish someone else would take a page from the second “Hulk” movie, where they dispensed with the entire origin in the opening credits. Yes yes, crazy mutant spider bit, dead uncle, we get it, let’s move on!

The Lizard sequences were done well, with the kind of lethal strength I wish we’d have gotten in the Godzilla movie. He was a truly scary opponent for Spidey, perfectly rendered on the big screen.

I found the plot to be a serviceable vehicle for delivering the action, although not anything I’ll put down in my “Great Moments in Screenwriting” journal. For instance, there’s (SPOILER ALERT!) a minor sub plot where the Lizard rolls canisters of mutagenic gas through crowds of cops, who we see transform into blue-clad lizard men. Then we don’t ever see them again until the very end. Were they rampaging through the city causing chaos? Did they revel in their newfound strength and intelligence, proving that the Lizard was actually right? We don’t know because we never go back to what was set up as being a fairly important development.

Of course the film was already over two hours long at that point so maybe there just wasn’t time.

I liked Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, her anime-like big eyes and slightly awkward mannerisms fit the role perfectly. And Andrew Garfield makes for a good Spider-Man, bringing an edge of fun and joy to the acrobatic parts of the role that Maguire missed. Yes, he’s a little bit emo, but I think that’s about how a modern-day take on Peter Parker should be.

So is it worth going to see? Definitely, even if you’re not really going to get anything you didn’t the first time around. But I like seeing what takes different creative folks have on a given super hero property. That’s a long-standing tradition in comics and as long as the final product delivers the goods, I’m happy.

I’d say there aren’t any high notes like the upside-down kiss, but on the other hand we don’t have a moussed Peter Parker be-popping down Emo Avenue, either. In general I’d give this movie a solid B+.

If you’ve seen it already I’d love to hear your take in the comments as well.

24 Responses to Amazing Spider-Man Review

  1. Okay so I haven’t seen the new movie yet but I want to. I thought the first Spiderman was okay at best, the following movies didn’t blow up my skirt at all. I didn’t like the actor or actress picked for Peter and MJ. I like the characters in the new movie, I think they are a better fit. So the girl in the movie is she not MJ? They messed up the whole Green Goblin/ Hobgoblin thing. Father was Hobgoblin and Harry was Green Goblin. I didn’t like the dads suit but Harrys was kinda cool, I even like the face scarring. I didn’t care too much for Doc Oc in the comics and didn’t like the actor in the second movie. What really did me in was Venom in the 3rd. He was one of my favorite characters, I have always liked the darker hero/villians. Eddie Brock was suppose to be this body builder type who tried to be a photographer but just sucked next to Peter/Spiderman. When he got the Venom suit he was big and scary and had a menacing voice. Not some 70’s show douche with a little ( censored ) voice. Okay I got that out of my system now. Sandman was about as good as it was going to get when you try and bring that type of character to life on the big screen. From the previews I have seen of the new Spiderman, I don’t think they needed to recap back story but didnt mind the slight twist on story. I thought from what I could see of the lizard as he was flashing by my TV looked cool.

  2. I actually liked it even better than I thought I would, based on the ads. The bit in the trailer where…Ratha? I think? says “Do you think what happened to you was an accident? Do you have any idea what you really are?” was really a turn-off, because–yeah, what happened to him should be an accident. But the line never appeared in the movie, so that’s all good. (Of course–SPOILERS!–if the entire premise of the movie is that the cross-species stuff is dangerous and doesn’t properly work, it’s problematic that it worked just fine, accidentally and completely absent the all-important algorithm, for Peter.) I liked Garfield much better than Maguire, and Stone’s Gwen overcame my preference for MJ.

    I’m actually kind of psyched for the next installment already. My brother and I have been spit-balling who the next villain might be. It shouldn’t be Green Goblin yet–he should be saved for the third (and probably last before the next do-over) movie. If Parker’s parents remain important to the story, the villain should be in the genetically-altered category, instead of a tech-guy; on the other hand, they could use a tech-guy to establish the higher levels of tech available to the Goblin later….

  3. ***SPOILERS*** I went into it thinking I would not like it, due to my severely harsh judgement of his costume, his Edward Cullen-like haircut, and me preferring bio webshooters as opposed to hand-made ones. But I left knowing that I enjoyed it. Not as much as the Tobey Maguire film, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. I ended up liking his costume but always felt a twinge of “There’s no way he made that himself. It looks like leather!” (I have no working knowledge of fabrics and such). Still, it was different enough to be fresh but familiar enough to be, well, Spider-Man. I also liked the more “accidental” method of him being bitten by the spider in the Tobey Maguire film, where he’s just minding his own business, distracted by the exquisite Kirsten Dunst, then BAM! a spider bites him. In this one, I just wanted to yell “Of COURSE he got bitten, he’s in a black-lit room filled with SPIDERS!!” But hey, I’ve always been kind of harsh on movies. And I know it’s unfair to compare two films based on one superhero, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker when I did. I enjoyed this film anyway.

  4. SPOILERS
    Like most people, I didn’t fully get why a popular series needed a reboot.

    Like most people, I wasn’t expecting a great deal of this movie – I’m was imagining deccent at least.

    but when the end credits started rolling, my thoughts were along the lines of “wow… this is the best Spiderman so far.”

    Now before the pitchtorches get lit, I will just first say that I did and still do like and enjoy the Rami films (apart from the issues with 3 – obviously).

    It’s tricky telling a story that’s already been told. You’ve got to find your own take on it while still showing faithfullness to the characters.

    Rami’s was more an adaptation of the comics. Even going with warm bright tones.
    Webb’s is an interpertation.

    It’s more complex above the simple “good guy fights bad guy.”

    You’ve got Connors – a tragic villain who is a good man underneath; the the issues of vigilantism, vengeance.

    In Rami’s film – everything was resolved at the end. Webb left loose ends – uncle Ben’s killer, peter’s parents.
    show’s a more complex thought – less fairytale.

    the characters had more of an impact in this one.

    they showed peter’s intelligence and humour – not given as much screentime in rami’s.

    gwen stacy was more proactive tahn MJ’s usual “get kidnapped and scream” routine.

    I look forward to the next one

  5. Hyperanthropos

    I went into “The Amazing Spiderman” with mixed feelings. On the one hand the reboot did seem too early, on the other the trailer looked very promising. Personally, I liked this film better than the first one with Toby Maquire. There, I found that movie was okay in the first half, but in the second half, I felt that the story lost its momentum. In “The Amazing Spiderman” the situation was reversed. I agree with you, Jeff, that the origin story was too long, although I am afraid that Spiderman’s Origin is too complex, as that one could shorten it down. (At least Martin Sheen was a great Uncle Ben) Anyway, for the first half of the movie the flow of the story felt uneven and forced to me. In the second half the film carried the story more fluidly. Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield had a great chemistry between them, and their relationship and feelings didn’t feel acted. The scenes with the Lizard were fantastic. The fight in the high school alone made the movie worth watching.
    Jeff, you already said it in your review: “The Amazing Spiderman” isn’t the re-invention of the Superherofilm-Genre, but it is an entertaining film. And yes, Andrew Garfield fits better in the role of Peter Parker than Toby Macquire.

  6. Debochira:
    I ended up liking his costume but always felt a twinge of “There’s no way he made that himself. It looks like leather!” (I have no working knowledge of fabrics and such).

    it looks more like a clothy mesh and I’d say it looks easy to make than Tobey’s suit – I’m still not sure what that was exactly.

    at least they explain the lenses in this one – in rami’s the costume goes from the baraclava to suddenly finished

  7. ironic that it’s called the “Amazing Spiderman”, since this one has a lot more influence from Ultimate Spiderman (pre Miles Morales)

  8. X-stacy: Of course–SPOILERS!–if the entire premise of the movie is that the cross-species stuff is dangerous and doesn’t properly work, it’s problematic that it worked just fine, accidentally and completely absent the all-important algorithm, for Peter.

    Agreed, that bugged me, too. I guess they can play the “ah, but it’s all based on Father Parker’s DNA!” or something … I definitely got the sense that Peter’s dad isn’t completely missing from the picture one way or the other.

    As to who the other voice is in Dr. Connors’ head, I really have no clue. The obvious inference is that it’s like Osborne’s delusions in the original trilogy, but I’m honestly not sure.

  9. Debochira: I ended up liking his costume but always felt a twinge of “There’s no way he made that himself. It looks like leather!” (I have no working knowledge of fabrics and such). Still, it was different enough to be fresh but familiar enough to be, well, Spider-Man. I also liked the more “accidental” method of him being bitten by the spider in the Tobey Maguire film, where he’s just minding his own business, distracted by the exquisite Kirsten Dunst, then BAM! a spider bites him. In this one, I just wanted to yell “Of COURSE he got bitten, he’s in a black-lit room filled with SPIDERS!!”

    Definitely agreed with all of that. The costume was clearly superior to anything anyone outside of a Hollywood studio could do. But, like you I just chalked it up to one of those things you expect in a movie and was fine with it. I do have to say I disliked the red stripe down the pants. But I loved the shoes!

  10. Frevoli:
    ironic that it’s called the “Amazing Spiderman”, since this one has a lot more influence from Ultimate Spiderman (pre Miles Morales)

    Much like “The Avengers” is really “The Ultimates”. But I don’t think that’s by accident — my understanding is that the Ultimate line was written in large part to be amenable to adaptation into a movie format.

  11. Sebastian978

    I had mixed feelings on this movie from the get go, but do wanna see it. I guess I should look at it as a remake, instead of one who says Tobby was the perfect Spider-man and everyone else is gonna suck. I do like the previews and the fact that it’s not a continuation of the other movies but instead the’re starting over. Plus the fact that the’re using another Spider-man story line all together, like that he has to make the web fluid. Above all without seeing it I give it a 6-7. But when Batman comes out I think it’s gonna blow this movie clean out of the water!

  12. I thought the first Spiderman was pretty good but felt that they went down hill afterwards. One of my primary beefs with the previous trilogy is that the Bad guys weren’t really evil. they were driven to be bad guys bu external forces; Osborne by the serum he developed and over charged himself with. Doc Ock was driven insane by the cybernetic interface from the tentacles, Sandman wasn’t even really bad, – he was trying to save his daughter. Venom was pretty pathetic. And Hobgoblin redeemed himself, then died.

    They could have just been evil, because you know, they are evil.

    I liked the new one a lot, I thought they did a better job. Starting earlier in his life, the romance with Gwen. And in this case, the badguy really was an alter ego of a guy that was a friend of Peter’s in the comics. And they didn’t kill him in the end.

    So over all, I gave it an A. Hopefully they will continue in the same vein.

  13. honestly from a guy who ain’t seen the movie YET wouldnt this one be closer to the comics than the original? I mean in the comics he makes the web fluid while in the original movie it’s all DNA? I’m gonna say this is better plus Andrew Garfield pulls off alot of wise cracks. Where were they in the original movie?

  14. Like the lot of you I went in with lowered expectations and came out, as Stan Lee would put it, a true believer. I have to say that overall Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker was more to my liking than Tobey Maguire’s; particularly when he grieved over Uncle Ben. Very touching. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I was let down in two respects: 1). Uncle Ben’s death would have ultimately been more gut-wrenching had Peter later discovered it was the very burglar he let escape. It’s that horrifying discovery that has always made Peter’s loss worse than Bruce Wayne’s. 2). The Lizard. Loved Rhys Ifans as Curt Conners, but it would have been more fitting to call him The Pig, because he hammed it up as the Lizard.

    Anyway, Jeff, great review– always enjoy them.

  15. ProwlerKnight

    I agree with Aaron the new movie (havent seen it but from the previews I can already assert this statement) is alot closer to the Comic Spiderman.
    McGuire didn’t show as much of the SpiderMan Sarcasm in his role as the hero, He was more serious throughout the whole thing (though there were plenty of humorous moments in all 3 Spidermans), Garfield definitly is closer to the character (I mean the whole “You found my only weakness…it’s small blades” just sums it up right there.) Parker as he explained in the Marvel Zombies series (which I found both interesting and deeply disturbing at the same time) uses Sarcasm and cracks jokes to make his enemies believe he’s not afriad, as he worded it “I can still kick your butt and make jokes at the same time.”
    Now I still have to see the movie before I can give a full review (Previews always fool you) but from what I’ve seen (which I’m hoping isn’t false) it’s got alot more of that Spidey feel then the originals

  16. I don’t know if I’m right or not, but my impression was that Peter didn’t sew his costume–he bought it over the internet, then added some home screen-printing to make it spider-themed, plus the lenses out of his sunglasses to hide his eyes. Even if I’m wrong, I’m happy to give it a pass; as my brother pointed out, who wants to see anybody wearing a costume made by a teenager with no prior sewing experience?

  17. X-stacy:
    I don’t know if I’m right or not, but my impression was that Peter didn’t sew his costume–he bought it over the internet, then added some home screen-printing to make it spider-themed, plus the lenses out of his sunglasses to hide his eyes.Even if I’m wrong, I’m happy to give it a pass; as my brother pointed out, who wants to see anybody wearing a costume made by a teenager with no prior sewing experience?

    HA! That’s so true! It’s clear that the humor runs deep in your family.

    I was under the same impression, purchased from the Internet and modified to suit as he liked. Still not super plausible but completely forgivable because it looked goooood.

  18. ProwlerKnight

    Jeff Hebert: HA! That’s so true! It’s clear that the humor runs deep in your family.I was under the same impression, purchased from the Internet and modified to suit as he liked. Still not super plausible but completely forgivable because it looked goooood.

    For those non-wayne and non-stark billionares whome want to make a super hero costume, EBAY!!!!! XD

  19. I went in with low expectations, like many, because of the Rami movies. I loved watching them, because Spider-Man, but hated them too. Tobey Maguire was not the Spider-Man I grew up with. He was uncertain and awkward as both Peter and Spider-Man, which is just so wrong that it hurts my face.

    I absolutely loved Andrew Garfield as both Peter (the clicking noise he makes when pointing to his brain is possibly my favorite part of the movie) and Spidey. Sarcasm, jokes, and creative use of the webbing meshed into something that I think is better than the original (movies, that is).

    Granted, it was slow in parts, and I wish the murder of Uncle Ben had been a little better resolved, but this is the Spider-Man movie that I’ve been longing for my whole life. (I know, I know, I’m a gusher. I can’t help it.)

  20. Master81385

    Being a huge Spidey fan i liked the movie, didn’t love but it was good. So glad I’m not the only that’s like “Oh come on! There’s no way he made the costume himself!” And for everyone that said Avengers and the reboot of Spidey are more based on the Marvel Ultimate I completely agree. My only logical reasoning would be to appeal to a younger audience maybe? I’m 15 and I liked the sort of more realistic feel you got from Avengers it’s not all super-zealous like 90’s movie where the hero would never ever ever do anything bad. You know it’s more dark and real like Christopher Nolan’s Batman which is pretty cool. Some people said it didn’t quite fit in Spidey’s story but I really liked it. :) Thanks for the review Jeff!

  21. I saw it last night, and I really liked it. There were things that could be nit picked, but the overall film left me with a smile on my face when I left the theater. I can’t say the same for the Maguire ones. I had a lot of hopes riding on this movie, because I hated all of the previous ones, and I really wanted this one to be great, to show how bad the other ones missed the mark. I think that while this was not a “perfect” movie, it did indeed show that the last set needed improving. Some of the things that I really liked :
    1.Web Shooters!! When they got rid of the webshooters and gave him the organic ones, it took the whole genius aspect right out of Peter’s character. Instead, they made Peter a whiney dork type, instead of a misunderstood genius type.
    2.The Costume. While it wasn’t the traditional Spidey costume, I liked how it came out. And, to me, it was more believeable that he could make the costume out of scratch in this version because, again, they showed Peter as a genius. In the other ones, he just shows up in the costume, and there’s no real sense of how he was able to make it. And since they really played up the “Peter’s a broke loser” in those versions, there’s no way he could have bought it.
    3. His sense of humor. He actually had one. Nuff Said.
    4. The CGI this time around looked a thousand times better. It was so bad in the Raimi ones it took me right out of the movie.
    5.GWEN!! She was perfect. Mary Jane was so out of character in the Raimi ones, they basically made her Gwen with red hair, withn a few Mary Jane touches thrown in. Glad to see them get it right this time.
    6. The Lizard. Again, glad to see them get a Spidey villian right. I hated how they did the villians in the last series. None of them were sympathetic, they were all just over the top stereotypes.
    7. No random stupidity, such as “Go Web Go” and people singing the 60’s Spider-Man theme song. Or Bruce Campbell.
    8. Dialogue that didn’t make me roll my eyes every three seconds.
    I could keep going but that was the major stuff. I’m really excited to see what they can do with the next one. Now that they have the origin story out of the way, they can focus on just telling a bad ass story, like Nolan did with Dark Knight. And hopefully we won’t have to watch Peter deliver pizza, or see Aunt May hang off a building with an umbrella. :)

  22. Joshua:
    Uncle Ben’s death would have ultimately been more gut-wrenching had Peter later discovered it was the very burglar he let escape.

    Peter did know that. It was the guy that robbed the convience store, and as he was running away he shot Uncle Ben. That’s why Peter kept chasing after guys who looked like him, he saw his face in the store.

  23. Dan: Peter did know that. It was the guy that robbed the convience store, and as he was running away he shot Uncle Ben. That’s why Peter kept chasing after guys who looked like him, he saw his face in the store.

    He also remembers seeing the tattoo on the guy’s arm when the criminal reached into the till. That’s how he knows it was the same guy. And that’s why he’s always hunting down similar looking fellows, then checking on the wrist.

  24. And in case I didn’t make it clear, I definitely give this edition a thumbs-up. I enjoyed it — as someone else said, I walked out of the theater with a smile.