The Amazing Spider-Man Review
*This review contains spoilers*
I’ve never really liked the Spider-Man movies. I don’t just hate Spider-Man 3 like most people. I hate the whole franchise. Tobey Maguire was unbearable, not just because he didn’t make jokes, not even just as Spider-Man, he was a bad Peter Parker. He wasn’t the only problem, but he was the most obvious one. When it was announced that the franchise was being rebooted I was thrilled (and annoyed to hear everyone pissing and moaning about how good Tobey Maguire was and how he shouldn’t have been replaced). When I saw the movie I wasn’t disappointed.
Many people complained that this movie was doing the origin story again, but honestly I thought it was a good call. The origin in this movie seems far less rushed, and it really gives time for the characters to develop and seem more like people. You can actually see Peter’s struggle with how to use his powers, the effect of his parents dying and the relationship between him and his aunt and uncle. The one thing that is vastly different in the development of Spider-Man is the interaction between him and Uncle Ben’s killer. In Spider-Man things move very quickly. Dude kills Ben, Spider-Man kills dude, Spider-Man is hero. In The Amazing Spider-Man things are a lot more realistic and difficult. After Ben dies Peter goes on a quest of vengeance. He tries to use his new found powers to find and punish Ben’s killer. In this search he happens to stop crimes in progress. It’s not his goal to stop them it’s just a by-product of his would be revenge. Captain Stacy even says this outright to Peter at one point and it’s the one part of the conversation where he has no counterpoint. He’s aware at that moment that he hasn’t been a hero. It’s not until the Lizard shows up that he actually starts fitting the hero role. In the end rather than vengeance turning him into the hero, he makes the choice between the two, and never gets his revenge.
The romantic aspect of this movie is also a far better one than in Spider-Man. It feels a lot more real, similiar to the rest of the story, because there’s actually time given for development. Peter and Gwen seem like real people in a real relationship. Despite this there isn’t too much of the movie devoted to it. More importantly, the line between scenes about Peter and Gwen and scenes about Spider-Man is a fairly firm one. Spider-Man saves Gwen exactly once in this movie. It’s not his only objective. Peter and Gwen’s relationship is also not because he’s Spider-Man. She knows he’s Spider-Man but that’s not what drew her to him in the first place. The only argument that could really counter this is the idea that being Spider-Man gave Peter he confidence to talk to Gwen. It doesn’t seem in the movie that this is true. But it could have had an effect.
There is a theme in the Spider-Man comics of Peter helping to create the villains he later ends up fighting. That’s why The Lizard was the perfect villain for this movie. It’s through the work of Richard Parker, which Peter later finds that Curtis Connors eventually turns himself into The Lizard. This gives the required struggle between needing to stop him and not wanting to kill him because, it’s kind of Peter’s fault he turned so evil.
The appearance of this movie is great. The dark and gritty feel seems right for the story and doesn’t take away from the comic feel. There are some parts that don’t work though. The first person sequences that were shown in the trailer were mostly taken out. But when they do show up, they look like shit. Everything is clearly computer generated and feels very fake. Otherwise all the environments in the movie look brilliant. Some of the character designs are great and others aren’t. Spider-Man looks awesome. The Lizard looks good from the neck down, but the face on him is a little off. Gwen Stacy, while looking like Gwen Stacy, doesn’t exactly fit. Her perfect good girl attire doesn’t fit in the high school full of people who look like normal high school students. Or outside where it’s a gritty realistic version of New York. It’s a small issue but it sometimes sticks out.
We’ll start off with the most important character of all, Spider-Man/Peter Parker. There are some great improvements here. On the Spider-Man side he’s actually acting like Spider-Man. He’s fighting with a style based on the Spider Sense ability, getting in over his head, and cracking jokes all along the way. The jokes aren’t phoned in or at obviously scripted points. Spider-Man will throw out a one liner while getting the shit kicked out of him. The Peter Parker side of things was also a huge improvement. He is a social outcast and a brainy high school student, but that doesn’t make him a total wuss. He also has some heroic aspects to him before the spider bite. Despite not being physically strong he’s willing to stand up for people. Much of the bullying he faces from Flash is because of this. He’s also not a kiss ass. He does well in class but that doesn’t mean he’s totally up for listening to authority figures. Spider-Man does however suffer from missing mask syndrome. There was overall far too much face time in this movie.
Uncle Ben was a better character for the short amount of time he was on screen. While still being supportive of Peter and trying to teach him right from wrong, he’s no longer the absolutely perfect, nurturing father figure. While he does a good job as a parent he still shows himself to be a human being. When Peter repeatedly fucks up, he gets pissed off, as a guy of his age likely would. He’s got a pretty loose set of rules, but you’d better god damned follow them. When the inevitable scene where he and Peter argue right before Ben dies. It feels like an actual family argument. Ben also gets some good comedic moments in.
Norman Osborne was hardly in the movie at all but still made a huge impression. At no point in the movie did the audience ever see his face. He’s just a looming, dark, mysterious force. Even in the post-movie teaser, he’s completely shadowed. The audience gets to know two things about him. What his voice sounds like and that he wears a fedora. The only possible issue is that not showing Norman Osborne may be because an actor hasn’t been selected for the role yet. This could cause the character to suddenly shift in a very different direction in the sequel (you know it’s coming).
I won’t go into all of the characters, I’ve covered the ones that I thought were significantly different enough from other versions of the characters to talk about.
The Amazing Spider-Man was not a perfect movie adaptation of the Spider-Man comics. But it was a very good adaptation.
Final Score: 4.5/5