The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Movie Review

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The Amazing Spider-man (2012) Movie Image

Here’s the deal with Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man”: it’s good; it’s fine. There is, however, a but. We’ll get to that. There’s web-slinging adventure, a good amount of fun, and some wonderful actors giving solid performances. Andrew Garfield has the wise cracking, awkward loner thing down pat, and pulls off a near perfect Peter Parker. Emma Stone’s take on Gwen Stacey is charming, adorable, and in a couple moments, heartbreaking. This isn’t a perfect movie, by far, but overall “The Amazing Spider-Man” ends up a decent summertime popcorn movie. But, is fine good enough for Marvel? Will decent cut it? Given the hot streak they’ve been on, especially with the massive success of “The Avengers”, this will never be more than a slight disappointment.

You spend the bulk of “The Amazing Spider-Man” wondering if this is really necessary, and the film never quite crawls out of the shadow of being a reboot. The story is so familiar, as are the primary characters, that even while you’re being entertained, you can’t shake the sense you’ve been through this all before. There’s not anything new or different about Webb’s picture to set it apart. There are attempts to differentiate the plot from previous versions of the Spider-Man origin story, but they don’t do the trick. Fanboys everywhere raised a ruckus when they found out that there would be more emphasis placed on Peter Parker’s parents rather than Aunt May and Uncle Ben, as is the standard. And honestly that element is tacked on and creates more problems that it solves.

Emma Stone in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Movie Image

What “The Amazing Spider-Man” does is insert the additional factor of Peter’s scientist father (Campbell Scott) and mother (Embeth Davidtz) running off and leaving the young boy with May and Ben (Sally Fields and Martin Sheen, who, again, both give solid performances). If you were to edit any mention of his parents out of the film, you’d be left with the Spider-Man story you already know: nerd with a penchant for photography, radioactive spider bite, superpowers, uncle getting murdered by a guy he could have stopped, great power begetting great responsibility. Throw in a pretty girl, shake, and voila, Spider-Man.

The parent issue only confuses the big picture. It is more of an aside, a red herring that is set up to be the main source of conflict, but never follows through. It brings a bit of additional characterization, but also causes the focus to bounce back and forth between Peter’s search for answers and his quest for Uncle Ben’s killer. Because of this the movie meanders, directionless, for too long, you’re not sure what the actual point is. By trying to make “The Amazing Spider-Man” different, they only muddy the waters.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Movie Image

It isn’t until the final third of the movie that “The Amazing Spider-Man” steps up and claims the story as its own. Once all of the comic book set up is left in the rearview, things smooth out somewhat. The relationship between Peter and Gwen is given room to grow, and real-life couple Garfield and Stone show that chemistry on screen. Eventually the plot abandons all the peripheral distractions—which are important to developing Spidey, but presented in a jumbled way—and the plot narrows down to Spider-Man and Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard (Rhys Ifans). When this happens, the pace picks up and carries you on a roller coaster ride towards the end.

What they should have done instead of trying to retell a well-known, oft-recounted origin story, was keep the familiar stuff to a minimum, and focus on what is new. But they don’t, and as a result the most interesting bits of “The Amazing Spider-Man” are compressed and never fully developed. The film is hamstrung before it has the chance to truly take off.

The Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Movie Image

Adding the Lizard into the mix as the villain is a let down. First off the creature looks terrible. In the comics he looks like an actual lizard, here he is a god-awful mess that looks like a burn victim who can’t stop smiling. Scales do not a reptile make. Before he becomes the Lizard, when he’s Connors, he’s just this dude with one arm that mopes around lamenting the fact that he only has one arm, gazing at his stump. You get it; you’re supposed to equate Connors and Peter. Both are after a missing piece of themselves, one literal, one metaphorical. At first you feel for Connors, and you think he’s going to provide some connection to Peter’s past, but his shtick gets tired, and the parent thing falls by the wayside.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” isn’t terrible. There are nice pieces, but they don’t amount to much more than a middle of the road superhero rehash. A too familiar story rebooted too soon, with a lackluster villain, results in a movie that you’ve already seen. At the end of the day, if you’re not overly invested in the source material, this is fun enough action romp. For fans who were hoping for something special, this is not the movie you wanted, and you’ll walk away thinking “The Amazing Spider-Man” should be better.

Marc Webb (director)/James Vanderbilt (writer)/Alvin Sargent (writer)/Steve Kloves (writer)
CAST: Andrew Garfield…Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Emma Stone…Gwen Stacey
Rhys Ifans…Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard
Denis Leary…Captain Stacey
Sally Fields…Aunt May
Martin Sheen…Uncle Ben


Buy The Amazing Spider-Man on DVD

Author: Brent McKnight

Brent McKnight lives in Seattle with his dogs. He likes beards, movies where things explode, and overcast skies. His three favorite movies are "Rubin and Ed", "A Bittersweet Life", and "Out for Justice". He wishes his knees didn't hurt. On Twitter @BrentMMcKnight
  • man

    ag

  • Juggernaut

    After SM3 I’ll be okay with a middle of the road retelling to be honest.

    • Lexavi80

      lol… Good point. I’m still watching this!

    • http://twitter.com/BrentMMcKnight Brent McKnight

      A friend asked what I thought of this, and when I told him that it was “entertaining but felt unnecessary,” he said, “you want to know why this needed to happen? Spider-Man Fucking Three.” And that is an excellent point.

      • Lexavi80

        COMPLETELY AGREE!!

  • edge007

    Kinda figured, but one of my favorite young actresses of the moment playing one of my favorite all-time superhero love interests is enough to get me in the theater.

    • http://twitter.com/BrentMMcKnight Brent McKnight

      Stone and Garfield together might be the best part of the movie.

    • Juggernaut

      I agree. Stone has been in a bunch of great performances. I really haven’t seen Garfield in anything except The Social Network but I really thought that he was excellent in that. I love anything that Denis Leary does. Sally Field and Martin Sheen are both legends and terrific actors. Rhys Ifans is one of those underrated character actors that shines in anything he’s in. Even if this does seem like a bit of a retread it will undoubtably be worth checking out.

      • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

        Sheen as Uncle Ben is absolutely perfect, and so is Field as Aunt May. This cast to me is soo much better than the original cast. Not taking anything away from the fantastic supporting cast they had, but this one seems to be just slightly more gorunded and seems more natural.

        • Online72

          Sally does not have the look for Aunt May in my opinion. I really enjoyed the woman that played the character in the earlier movies. I thought she had the frail look down. Sally Field is certainly a great actor.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            Maybe not for the original “Doting old lady” version but she’s perfect for a more modern version like the “Ultimate” version or even how she’s being portrayed in the current comics. Her look actually is dated. I think She was srawn with the grey hair and such just to show a sense of that motherly bond she has, but Peter was only in HS and unless his Uncle Ben was like 50 when Peter was dropped off, there is no reason for Ben’s wife to be so old either. Aunt May being old and frail is a thing of the past. She’s fiesty, and independant and strong, and personally I think that’s what she should be. That’s not to say she can hold her own against a villain but still…she’s no scared frail old lady anymore.

  • TotesMagotes

    Is Spidey’s theme music the same as it is in the old trilogy?

    • Juggernaut

      No.

  • LionHeart

    Kind of what I expected.

    Can’t imagine I’ll enjoy the cast as much as I did the previous canon though, however solid their performance.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      See I’m of a mind that other than the supporting characters like Aunt May, Jonah, and Robbie I will like this cast more. I actually really didn’t like Tobey as Spiderman or Kirsten as MJ. Other than that I loved the cast. And if you can’t get behind the star it really damages things for the film.

      • Online72

        My issues with the MJ character in the original movies was it seemed like she was a mix of Gwen and MJ. Which was fine as long as Gwen didn’t exist but, once they brought her in, in the third movie, it just didn’t mix well.

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

          Agreed!!

          • LionHeart

            I didn’t mind Tobey or Kirsten, and will probably like them as much as Andrew and Emma. But the sidecast was perfect. May and Ben were excellent (for how little the latter was in, he had everything down), and Jonah was of course a rare example of utterly perfect casting. It was things like that I missed the second I got a look at the new cast of actors brought in. I’d love to like them, and maybe I will (Seeing it this Thursday or Friday), but at this moment I can’t imagine seeing Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben. >_>

            And agreed, the MJ/Gwen mix was fine really until 3 brought Gwen herself into the picture.
            Though I really hope at some point down the line, they take this opportunity to adapt Amazing 121-122 proper, or I’ll be raging at the wasted chance. I want that “snap” in film!

  • Zeroshot

    sorry but I disagree with your reveiw entierly. Saw it last night.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      Please tell us why…without spoilers of course.

  • Gr4474

    I agree with this review. I didn’t like toby though and this new spidey is great. The trailer had me excited, from all the new looking action, but i never got that extreme wow factor i got from the trailer. I was hoping for a tie in to the avengers movie, but there were none. Marvel missed a huge opportunity here and it would have been the perfect time to bring spidey into the next Avengers movie.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      Spider-Man is a Marvel character, but Marvel doesn’t own his film rights. Sony/Columbia does. Marvel would, of course, tie Spidey into their universe. But they have no say in this matter, unfortunately.

      • LionHeart

        It’s a weird feeling how I was almost hoping this and the First Class would have been terrible both commercially and critically in the hopes the controlling companies would have little incentive to pump out another one and let the rights revert to Marvel.

  • C_spinal

    Best Stan Lee cameo ever!

    • Lexavi80

      Hahahahaha! I agree completely!!

  • Shazam!

    I gotta say I’m inclined to disagree with your comments about the film feeling necessary. I saw it last night and while I admit I was having the occasional flash back to Toby and co. to start with, those thoughts were quickly replaced by, “this is so much better!”

    If I had to sum up the why behind that, it’d be because this movie has actual characters instead of character types. Aunt May and Uncle Ben have a story, they don’t just hit their beats to move along the story. And I’d say the same is true of old web-head also – this movie actually gives us Spiderman, not a guy in a spiderman outfit. The way he moves, the way he fights, swings, jabbers – everything! At the end of the day Mark Webb and his team showed it takes more than an exact copy of a costume to make the hero!

    Is it a perfect ten – probably not – but I didn’t leave this film with half the complaints I did from the original. And I have to say I didn’t mind the lizard design at all – in fact I love the commodo dragon style over a croc. Let’s face it, if they’d given him a snout, everyone would complain that he looked too much like a dinosaur!

    Oh and I couldnt agree with you more about the chemistry between Garfield and Stone – 20 min. into the movie my friend and I agreed they had already surpassed what Toy and Kirstin had achieved over three films!

  • Lexavi80

    Sorry Brent, but I disagree with your review.

    1.- People who say “it’s only been 5 years since Siperman 3″ should get they’re act together. The original Spiderman came out more then 10 years ago, and the latest istallment was a complete joke. Was a reboot necessary? Of course it was.

    2.- “Given the hot streak they’ve been on, especially with the massive success of “The Avengers”, this will never be more than a slight disappointment” ==> Completely unfair! This movie have absolutely nothing to do with Avengers. There’s no point in comparition. Is like saying that because of the large success of The Dark Knight, Inception is a slight dissapointment. Amazing Spiderman and Avengers are two completely different movies and both should be taking their own merits.

    3.- There’s familiar elements because the origin is there again, but the approach was different, and make it somewhat fresh. Plus Andrew Garfield’s acting give the whole thing new life. But more of that later.

    4.- This is indeed a darker Spiderman movie. Is it The Dark Knight kind of dark? Of course not. Not by a long shot. Is just a bit darker than the Raimis movies. That’s all. And it fits like a glove if you ask me.

    I enjoyed this movie SO much (except for the score… I think it was out of place in some scenes), and indeed, Garfield and Stone are G-R-E-A-T in they’re roles. So much good chemestry!

    Is not a perfect movie though. I did felt it was a bit rushed at times, and the after credit scene… err… we could have live without that.

    All in all, I think The Amazing Spiderman is a solid superhero movie, and is a very good start for the Spiderman for the new era.

    Can’t wait for the sequel!