Amazing Spider-Man Review
This film is a little hard to judge now. We’ve had so many good comic book movies nowadays that it’s easy to dismiss one for not being as good as Avengers. Amazing Spider-Man is not as good as Avengers or Iron Man, but it is still a damn good movie.
I’d say it was great but not fantastic. There were flaws and some points could’ve been done better, but overall this was a really good Spider-Man movie. It follows the spirit of the comics more than the letter of them. That’s perfectly fine as it’s not the comics that were written in 1962 it’s a movie made in 2012. What’s important is that the essence of the characters and stories are there.
The movie does tell the origin again. It’s an alternate interpretation from the other movie and comics, which is to its benefit. The same events happen, Peter gets bit, he lets a crook get away due to self entitlement, and Uncle Ben gets shot because of that. What changed is the window dressing, which is important since I believe enough was changed to merit retelling it but they didn’t loose anything necessary to it. After Ben dies and Peter finds out he’s responsible he plays the last voice message Ben left him. It’s a powerful moment and one that is just as effective as Ben’s death as Peter sits against the wall in his room listening to it.
There’s a good natural evolution to Peter becoming a crime fighter and making his costume. He starts out trying to live up to his uncle’s words but he’s also mainly searching for Ben’s killer and out for vengeance. What makes this work is that no one ever says the name “Spider-Man” till Peter chooses to save a kid instead of going after the Lizard. It’s at that moment he becomes Spider-Man, not when he makes the costume or looses his uncle, when he truly embraces his uncle’s words and ideas. The movie subtly emphasised this and that is one of its strong points. The film has a lot of subtlety in its storytelling and likes to show rather than tell. There’re a lot of moments where they let scenes speak for themselves rather than tell us what’s obviously happening on screen.
Gwen in the film is excellent. Emma Stone does a really good job bringing that character to life. Her and Andrew Garfield have great chemistry and the romance story is one of the best to date in superhero movies. Although that’s not saying much. In any case Gwen was definitely one of the stronger love interests. She’s shown to be just as smart as Peter, if not even smarter at times. She takes the fact that he’s Spider-Man with understanding and she even figures out what’s up with him at the end of the film, and also treats it with the same understanding. She doesn’t mope around and definitely doesn’t get kidnapped by the villain as a reason for Peter to rescue her. She figures out what the Lizard wants and hides it as well as herself while wielding a makeshift flamethrower.
The villain of the film, the Lizard, has been criticised a lot. The CGI used wasn’t great but I didn’t find it as awful as many people were saying. It doesn’t look as good as the CGI used for Spider-Man, but it wasn’t a big quality drop. The design is probably the biggest problem with him. It looks fairly generic and he could’ve used more scenes wearing his lab coat, but that would detract from his, “shedding all of his humanity” theme I guess. He was very threatening and imposing, something Peter had to outthink than outfight. Dr Curt Connors was the other side of the coin in seeing what the transformation was doing to him. He takes the experimental Cross-Species Genetics drug out of desperation and it clearly makes him very crazy and unstable. He starts believing his theories about Cross-Species Genetics are the only way for humanity to survive. He is power without the responsibility to use it wisely, another great theme of Spider-Man. The intelligent Lizard is a call back to his first appearance in the comics and even though I prefer the savage version I think they made this one work better than I could’ve imagined.
Now this movie does follow with an annoying trend in superhero movies, the hero loosing his mask at dramatic moments. This film does have Peter take off his mask too many times, but it does something good with it. There are times where they give that a purpose. Such as when he gives it a kid trapped in a car and tells him to put it on because it’ll make him strong. There’s a bit of symbolism when he picks up and puts on his mask a few times, especially at the end when it’s given back to him. However there are too many moments when he takes it off for no reason at all. I like that they try to do more with it than just making random moments for his mask to come off, but it’s still a stupid thing that keeps happening.
Something I did find interesting was the way they handled the Spider Sense. Instead of a “danger sense” it seemed more like an enhanced perception of the world around him. It’s a different way to do it and some of the things they do with it are quite clever.
The mechanical webshooters were a welcome sight. How he comes up with the idea of webslinging is really good and well presented. I do have to wonder since he got/made the webbing through stealing Oscorp supplies how is he going to be able to make more in the second film. He no longer has access to Oscorp and it’s something they’d have to address next time. What I did like was how Peter was smart beyond making the webshooters. He was intelligent from the beginning and showed that he was trying to find ways to defeat the Lizard.
The supporting cast were quite good in this, especially Flash Thompson. Flash and Peter’s relationship grew over the course of the film and even had its own mini arc. When Ben dies he tries to comfort Peter in his own way and you can see by the end of the film he has grown to respect Peter. He was much more than just “the bully” character here. Martin Sheen was a fantastic choice for Ben, being extremely fun and likable. Almost everything he said got a laugh out of the audience I was with. May didn’t have a big presence but had some sweet and touching moments with Peter.
Now the film did have its share of problems and plot holes. There were some silly and cheesy moments but I didn’t find them that bad and they didn’t get in the way of the narrative. Some plot points were left dangling for the sequel and I’m kind of glad they did that. I think having the mystery of Peter’s parents hanging over the film would’ve taken away from some of the better moments in the film. There was a scene where Peter’s trying to get a photo of the Lizard to get a reward for the Daily Bugle, and it doesn’t go beyond that one scene, nor does him wanting money come up again. I can’t really say I had a lot of problems beyond some nitpicks though.
Overall I’d recommend it and say it was a great film. My personal favourite Spider-Man movie at the moment, though that’s not saying much. Don’t be scared off by it being a reboot because I feel there’s enough in there that justifies why they did things this way. It’s definitely worth checking it out in cinemas.