The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Movie Review


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
  • Roscoehalo

    I also must respectfully disagree with your review… I saw it yesterday. Movie was great and heres why…

    Yes it retells the origin… But real spiderman fans wont mind that. You know how many origin tellings and reimaginings i had to sit through just in comics alone? Lol,… At this point my main question is… Well will this be better than what we had before?

    Hell yes! This is way better than what we had before! I think someone already commented on the more authentic feel of this spiderman. Yes garfield is a better peter parker than tobey macgiure. The supporting cast is better. The material feels more realistic than the campy trilogy and the HORRIBLE spider man 3. Make no mistake! For all wondering why a reboot is needed GO WATCH SPIDERMAN 3!
    Lets talk about the lizards appearance… Yea, he doesnt have the extended snout… But its still better than green goblin in a broke down iron man suit. This movie lizard is vicious as his comic counterpart… It just so happened that it looks like a goomba from the super mario bros movie lol…
    Regardless the point is, this movie is better and the series did need a reboot and im glad we got it.

    • Dedpool

      I guess if a man and lizard mixed that it would ook like a goomba then. LOL. The thing is comics can have the crazy ridiculous changes in body mass and such. But Like a werewolf transformation in the modern era, if you have THAT drastic a change you have to start explaining it biologically and anatomically. With werewolves now it’s all about the pain they must go through during the change as their bones are basaically restructured. The same would have to happen to the Lizard in order to get the look of his comics counterpart. His WHOLE head would have to change not just elongate the snout, etc. But I’m glad you were able to look passed that and enjoy it.

  • Bad Zack

    saw it last night and loved it —

  • Cee Jay

    This film had so many stupid WTF moments that took me out of the whole experience.

    1: Peter Parker jumping up to the ceiling of a tube train and all the eye witnesses don’t question it.
    2: Peter Parker leaps higher than any pro basketball player in history and dunks the ball shattering the glass and all the eye witnesses in the gym don’t react let alone say anything.
    3: Peter Parker throws a football from the seats, across a field and hits the goal pylon, bending it even, and nobody says anything!
    4: The Lizard runs rampage on a bridge, nobody takes pictures or records anything with their phones or even CCTV! Next day its all put down to a myth despite hundreds of fleeing witnesses and wrecked cars.

    The writing was sloppy, the contrived back history for Peters parents totally unnecessary and JJ Jameson was sorely missing from this film. Garfield’s a way superior Spiderman but unfortunately this was a very pedestrian movie with little repeat viewing appeal.

    • Lexavi80

      @Cee Jay:

      1.- I’m pretty sure eye witnesses on the train questioned what happen there after the experience, like normal people do. In terms of story, was it necessary for us to see that? No.
      2.- It all happen in a school. Parker was sent to the director’s office afterwards. There was concequences. It was weird as hell? Yes! What would have happen if that happens for real? Honestly, maybe the same. Spiderman haven’t even appear by then, and God only knows how long after that appears, so who was going to match the dots?
      3.- Nobody saw who passed the ball. You can even hear the players asking who throw the ball.
      4.- I think I agree with you on this one. Is highly unlikely that, in an event like that, people don’t take a pic or video.

      I think the writing was pretty good, and the acting was damn solid. Peter Parker’s parents back story is going to weight way more in the sequels. That was the whole point of bringing it out but not reveling anything. I missed Jameson too.

      • Dedpool

        I actually thought the seen in Incredible Hulk with the college students taping was spot on. Same in the first Transformers when the Autobots arrive.

        As for Jonah, he will probably be in the sequel, I still say Hugh Laurie should play him.

  • LionHeart

    upon seeing it, just want to state for the record: It’s a decent film if you don’t pay much attention and want some action scenes and such. The moment you analyze it in away, everything falls apart. Mostly because of how random a character Peter Parker is in this imagining from one minute to the next and his skewed motivations.

    Still on the fence of whether it’s worse or better than Spider-Man 3, but I think I’m going to rewatch the original trilogy and I’ll hopefully have my answer after that.

  • kraven

    really held back from going to see this but finally bit the bullet and agree it was just ‘fine’. it really didn’t have any ‘stamp’ to it and felt very vanilla when marvel should be dishing out chocolate. emma and garfield rocked and felt real. to sit thru that retelling of his beginnings and that lame skateboard awakening scene was brutal. i actually liked how the lizard man looked. i found the actual settings for their confrontations quite dull a la the school (although i did dig stan lee being in the quiet zone). maybe it needed to look darker and garfield to be more unpredictable and angst ridden. but when i look at spidey 1 it was pretty dark with the insane schizophrenia of dafoe, aunt may being forced to say deliver us from evil and the goblin getting disembowled in the end. not really sure where it goes from here but it really needs a good sit down. and yeah maybe it was all done because spidey 3 was a wash.

  • Dedpool

    My name may be Dedpool but I was a Spider-Fan first, and still am. I fell off the wagon when the comics killed Peter and MJ’s marriage, but have recently gotten back on board with Dan Slott’s run starting on “Big Time” GREAT STUFF!! That said I loved this film. Far and away a much better telling of the origin even with the changes and a much more realistic take on Peter as a person. Also a better Spider-man. I liked what they did with the lizard as well. As far fetched as his plan was, it’s something straigh out of the comics. Garfield and Stone’s chemistry was amzaing, and Sheen and Fields nailed Aunt May and Uncle Ben. I thought their take on the whole “Great power/great reponsibility” line was actually kind of inspired as it wasn’t super preachy. I mean when does a teen really ever have “great power”? All the parts were well played, loved seeing Leary as Capt. Stacy, and I was particualry surprised by Ifans as Connors, though his change was a bit too quick, and he didn’t really fight his alter ego much, but then again I get the rush, and the addicition from going to being perceived as “Weak” to being powerful. All in all I definitely liked this more than Raimi’s films. Spiderman’s banter alone made it better.

    Also the scnee towards the end with the cranes, PURE SPIDEY!! No hero gets that much love from their city except maybe Superman and he doesn’t need it. Flash too man has his own museum!!

    • Lexavi80

      Loved the movie too, man!

      Question: I was flirting with the idea of getting Spider-Man: Big Time Ultimate Collection. Now that you say is great, I’m getting it for sure. But.. what come next? Spider Island?

      Gotta tell you, I have like 3 Spiderman Omnibuses (and haven’t read them yet). will I need something before “Big Time”? I heard it was a perfect starting point, but I want your advice first.

      Thanks, Ded!

      • Dedpool

        I started at “Big Time” I didn’t know about the omnibus for that until after I got the next two colections in Hard cover. If they have it all together go for it as the stories do lead right into each other. I personally like having the smaller arcs separate but either works. I would also get the first trade of the new Venom series. In the second arc I beleive it’d be issue 654.1 you are introduced to Flash Thompson getting the venom suit and then his first mission. After I read those I went out and got the Venom trade, and it was good stuff. Spider Island is indeed next, and I’d get the companion hardcover to that too (I did and it was worth it for the Spider-Girl and Shang Chi stories alone) As silly a premise as Spider Island is, it really works well. I’m getting the next two trades (Flying Blind and Trouble on the Horizon) and then the Ends of the Earth. Also getting the next Venom Trade cause it features a team up between him, Red Hulk, X-23 and the new female Ghost Rider (and was an homage to the New Fantastic Four, except darker versions). Also you won’t need to read anything ebfore it. I thought about going back a bit and at least getting the grim hunt storyline or the gauntlet but it can wait.