Upon walking out of the theater playing The Amazing Spider-Man, I tried to rationalize not mentioning Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy in the opening to my review. After all, as Sony Pictures and director Marc Webb have stressed since this project’s inception, the original trilogy and this “reboot” are two completely separate entities. That was a statement I never fully bought. I couldn’t see a future where this new film surpassed or even met the level of quality that the first two films of Raimi’s trilogy possessed (yeah, the third one was crap), so I was decidedly hesitant about The Amazing Spider-Man. And how’d it turn out? Well, you’re just going to have to read on for my opinion. Directed by Marc Webb (Webb! Get it! Cause it’s Spider-Man! Okay, yeah… bad joke), The Amazing Spider-Man reimagines the story of Peter Parker, a young teenage boy, who, while searching for the truth about his parents, discovers something that will change his life forever. Something that will change him into the one and only Spider-Man.
Despite for worries about this film, one thing I was never hesitant about was the cast. Since The Social Network,
Andrew Garfield has been on my radar as an actor to watch, so I was excited when he was cast as Peter Parker. His screen presence holds an awkward yet lovable charm that works so well in this film because it puts the human in the super-human. I hate to relate back to Sam Raimi’s films, but this is one of the few times I will do it: Is Garfield better than Maguire? Definitely. Garfield makes a more believable, appealing character out of both Peter Parker and his alter-ego Spider-Man, displaying trauma and emotion better than it was portrayed in any of the three movies that came before this. Performing the role of the new love interest Gwen Stacy, Emma Stone is good as always, putting herself above the female roles in superhero films of late. Denis Leary, as always, is great as the police captain, and it’s a shame he rarely does anything in movies besides voicing a saber-tooth tiger. Martin Sheen shines above whomever else played Uncle Ben in the first film, infusing humor and heart into his appearance. Unfortunately, no cast is perfect, and famed Bollywood actor Irrfan Kahn is the weak link in this case. It’s not so much that his role is underwritten, because his character does what he needed to do, which is set up the more to come. The problem is that it takes quite a bit of work to understand what he’s saying, which is a problem in such a rapid-paced film. Another thing of worry for me before going into this was how Rhys Ifans would hold up as Dr. Curt Connors, or Spidey’s first nemesis The Lizard. In the last Spider-Man film, the third in Raimi’s trilogy that came out in 2007, villains were something of a weak point. Simply put, there were too many of them and none were developed enough. And in the beginning, it seems the story won’t focus nearly enough on The Lizard, leaving him to be just another bad guy for Parker to fight towards the end of the film. However, screenwriter Steve Kloves, the man behind the Harry Potter films, and team do the audience the convenience of actually setting up The Lizard as a well-developed villain who will be more than just a CGI Lizard by the end. He’s nothing groundbreaking in the area of bad guys in superhero films, but he’s certainly acceptable.
The story was always going to be hard for this film because we all know it. We’ve seen it before. Hell, I own it on DVD. However, The Amazing Spider-Man takes the liberty of adding to the story, giving us another element not previously explored on film, making The Amazing Spider-Man feel as fresh as it can be in its storytelling. Another thing that adds to it is the tone that Webb infuses into the film, giving us a rapid-paced film that is supercharged with exciting action and growing tension, but also giving us human emotion and teenage awkwardness that is so pivotal to Parker’s life. He’s still a teenage kid, even if he is Spider-Man.
Despite keeping the story feel small and sweet, Webb also has a good sense of scale, playing out the film on a much more exciting and big scope than any of the Spider-Man films before it have. Webb also shoots action with a steady hand, keeping away from shaky, allowing the viewer to understand what is going on in front of them. The flying scenes are awesome as well, and the special effects are top-notch.
In the end, The Amazing Spider-Man is more light-hearted than a lot of the superhero films you see nowadays, but there’s something refreshing about that. Elevated by James Horner’s whimsical score, the film isn’t anything groundbreaking in the superhero genre, but it definitely sets up a story I’d love to see a sequel to. Overall, I never thought I’d be saying this, but I now say it with confidence: this is the best Spider-Man film ever.
FINAL GRADE: ★★★★★★★★★ (9 stars out of 10)
FINAL SAY: Well-acted, well-written, and well-directed, The Amazing Spider-Man is an exciting and action-packed yet surprisingly human, emotional, and likable reboot of the beloved hero.