What’s the Story: Ever since his parents abandoned him as a young boy, mysteriously disappeared since then, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) lives through his life as a high schooler raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), while also admiring his crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) from afar. As he discovers an old briefcase belonging to his father, Peter comes to learn what happened to his parents, leading him to a man by the name of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) from Oscorp, a former partner of his father that leads to him getting bitten by a radioactive spider. His recent bite as him gaining abilities unlike anything else, realizing he can use these newfound powers to emerge as the city’s newest hero and his secret identity-Spider-Man.
Sony’s announcement of them scrapping plans for the now-canceled fourth installment of Sam Raimi’s franchise and turning it around with this reboot doesn’t make sense for us Spider-Man fans out there. Was this too soon? For me, yes, since it would’ve been ten years from the original came out and five years since the last one ended. You look at the original trilogy, and two out of the three were considered marvelous by nearly everybody. But this disappointment of the third movie meant a new take on the origin story with (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb to handle everything. The curiosity was getting to me based on the cast and knowing ahead this would be a darker reboot, in the same vein as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. It’s strange how opinions change over time, especially with The Amazing Spider-Man. When I saw this on my 16th birthday, I remembered really liking it. Then I rewatched it months later at home and thought it was alright. Unfortunately, my follow-up viewing happened before Captain America: Civil War, and it wasn’t as good. After giving it another watch five years later, I’m settled on this being the most average Spider-Man movie we’ve gotten, in my opinion, about the celebrated Marvel hero.
This goes about the story one would think of first hand. They wanted to recreate Peter Parker’s origin story in a different universe that can separate itself from the campy, lighthearted tone of the original movies. The other difference with The Amazing Spider-Man as opposed to before in the general feel like the comic book aesthetic, and the approach here is to make it realistic enough. In some way, it manages to work with how we treat the story, and it doesn’t work at others. It delivers on the same beats everybody in the world knows, from Peter getting the bit from a spider to Uncle Ben’s death, leading to using his powers for his responsibility and having to face its newest nemesis on occasion. Repetitive it was with the lack of emotion thriving certain elements, it handled is balances.
We now have Andrew Garfield taking on the crucial role of Peter Parker/ Spider-Man in this series. For someone who came off a phenomenal performance in The Social Network and stepped into the famous web-slinger, someone like him has big shoes to fill when he’s the one taking over for Tobey Maguire, who was my favorite at the time. Garfield does a great job at carrying most of the characteristics typically looked upon into this character, though his intelligence and backbone serve his purpose. His Parker came off as un-nerdy or cocky early on, but I had to remember it’s a style that changes every time and I got over it quickly. Was he a little too old for the role? Just a smidge, but he works so well as this outsider with little to no friends into becoming this sudden beacon the city needs in stopping crime. And he was able to work well on-screen with a blonde Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, who was his first girlfriend in the comics. Of course, it would be impossible to imagine the smart, beautiful girl could wind up with a geek like him, but the relationship between Peter and Gwen was nice; it helps their chemistry, considering the actors started dating when these movies came out. So as much as I’m one of the few who enjoys hints of the romance between Peter and Mary Jane, I do think Peter and Gwen are stronger.
The thing that made me nervous is that Webb’s handling of the action is that he’d never done anything on a blockbuster scale before since he’s done indies and music videos. And they were perfectly fine, just not as thrilling as I wanted them to be. The action sequences were fast-paced enough, but I’ve come to realize there wasn’t much style to them as the overall look of the entire film looks dull, and the moments of Spidey swinging around with his webs were excellent, but everything else felt scaled back to where they weren’t too impactful. A few positives stayed with me after it was over, and one aspect that I didn’t care for at first. The fact Peter made his web-shooters instead of them being a part of him was a blessing; the late James Horner’s score I actually like now and minus a few times where the smashing on the piano to enhance the suspense bothered me, it sounds better, and the scene where Spider-Man saves the kid from the car from the bridge and tells him to put on the mask from the bridge was my favorite moment. The rest of the supporting cast do well in their roles like Sally Field as Aunt May, Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, and Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy.
But why The Amazing Spider-Man barely passes being watchable comes from the issues I had with this even in theaters. First, they marketed this as the untold story since we were to assume this would reveal information about Peter’s parents to us finally. That was an interesting angle to focus on in this movie, but we didn’t get that much, unfortunately. Delving into the backstory of their disappearance was fine with me since to explore what happened, especially with his father. That subplot was brushed aside after a while, along with wondering why they abandoned the Peter finding his uncle’s killer storyline. And that’s why some things felt underdeveloped that isn’t brought up again. Also, I was never a fan of Spider-Man’s outfit in this one. It always bothered me and, thankfully, they listened and gave it an upgrade in the sequel.
And those storylines aren’t the only thing that fell short of potential, this can also apply to The Lizard as the villain. Not that the enthusiasm for wanting Dr. Connors to face against Peter was high, but it’s a good thing they wanted the appearance of a familiar face that hasn’t been done on-screen (at least not as a human). Out of the villains we’ve seen on screen, The Lizard was the most uncompelling of them all. Although not the fault of Rhys Ifan’s acting, the development his character goes through and his plan to turn the citizens of New York into lizards were plain weak. The setup with him working with Peter trying to make a successful cross-species experiment that could work on his missing arm was enough to have me intrigued. A chance of hope turns dangerous as the crossing with reptile DNA has him turning into The Lizard. All of it was uneventful. It wasn’t until later I found out there were deleted scenes that show him with his family. Seems like they didn’t think it was essential to include, huh? Even the CGI for him wasn’t impressive.
Sometimes those character moments were hit-and-miss when it comes to the main character. I wouldn’t say I liked the scene where Peter fooled with Flash with the basketball and broke the backboard, and I know some complained about Maguire’s take not being quippy enough, but there’s one a scene and a half where he’s funny that got a laugh out of me. And that’s sit. This is the most dramatic Spider-Man movie yet, which I didn’t mind too much since the acting was well handled that got me through the next scene without coming across as totally cheesy. It’s just certain things needing to be written better from the script or cut out anything unnecessary. For instance, the subway scene where Peter discovers his powers was awkward when it wasn’t even the following day. Also, pay attention and look for a continuity error I now caught.
2012 was also the year that brought us The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises in the same summer, and this has always been the subject of differing opinions. This wasn’t much of a retread of the original movie during the first half, with slight differences to make its pathway. At least Webb didn’t have this become a forgettable superhero movie because there are good and bad things to take away from what happened. But there’s no trusting a human being who will put this over the first two Raimi movies since that’s plain wrong.
In the end, The Amazing Spider-Man will always have me leaving with mixed feelings rather than feeling “amazing.” A reboot like this would’ve been impressive and ended up a little clunky overall. Some improvements would’ve made this an honest surprise out of everybody. But what doesn’t make it terrible or let me be harsh like some people with this movie is Andrew Garfield’s performance as our hero and its few moments of positives.
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