July 12, 2012

Amazing Spider-Man (brief) review

I finally got a chance to see this only-a-decade-later reboot starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as the geeky Peter Parker-turned-superhero.

SPOILERS BELOW THE FOLD!

I had only read one negative review of this flick going in, (by former MTV pundit Kurt Loder, now at Reason.com) so I was fairly optimistic. And ... the movie is good. No doubt about it. The big "but" is, however, is it good and different enough to warrant a huge reboot of the franchise after a mere decade?

The answer to that is "no."

I'll keep it simple here, breaking it down into the usual "Goods" and "Bads":

THE GOOD.

  • Garfield. His Parker and Spidey are much better than Tobey Maguire's. It's not that he's a better actor, just that he captures the essence of who Peter and Spider-Man are (or, should be). He perfectly personifies a contemporary nerd as Peter Parker, and the total wise-ass that is Spider-Man. (You probably saw the trailer where he sarcastically mocks a criminal who pulls a knife on him: "Oh no! You discovered my weakness -- small knives!")

  • Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Being that she's Garfield's real-life girlfriend, the on-screen chemistry between the two is sensational. She comes across as the very innocent daughter of a police captain (played by Denis Leary, by the way) that she was in the comics.

  • Mechanical web-shooters. I always hated the Sam Raimi era "organic" web shooters as Parker never possessed such in the comics. Peter is a genius who invented his own web formula (in the comics), and even though he didn't come up with the formula in this film (he did create the wrist-bonded shooters, though), this remains true to Spidey canon.

  • Simple plot. The last Spidey film (Spider-Man 3) tried to do way too much, and as such failed badly (not monetarily, though!). In 3 we had juggle sub-plots involving Harry Osborn, the Sandman, and Eddie Brock/Venom. Sheesh. In Amazing, all we had to take in was Curt Connors attempting to perfect a formula, and turning into classic Spidey villain the Lizard when it fails. Throw in the expected sub-plots of Gwen Stacy romance, origin, and the new mystery of Pete's parents, and the film is delightfully simple. Hell, even the only mention of the Daily Bugle was a brief glimpse of a headline about the Lizard!

  • Action. Amazing's action sequences are really no better than the Raimi era's (especially Spider-Man 2's, which are hard to beat), but the fact that they're at least equal to the original trilogy's is a positive.

THE BAD.

  • Too soon. As mentioned before, there isn't anything different (or good) enough to warrant a reboot of the character this soon. I know money-wise I would be wrong, but creatively I'm on solid ground.

  • Mechanical web-shooters. As mentioned above, in the comics Peter's a genius who created the web formula. Since Amazing shows Pete to be brilliant, why doesn't he create the formula? I've no problem buying that he uses the Oscorp "bio cable" formula made by the same type of spider which bit him (and gave him his powers), but the film doesn't adequately explain how Pete managed to obtain the "bio cable" -- one of Oscorp's most closely guarded products! I'll buy how Pete managed to sneak into the lab where he got bit; what did he do though -- steal a huge supply of the "bio cable" at the same time?? C'mon. Pete managed to devise the Lizard "antidote" at the end of the flick; her certainly could have devised his own web formula.

  • Flash Thompson. Why is the perennial [early] Parker bully even in the school -- named "Mid-Town Science School"? The school is obviously a charter or magnet school for those of higher-end intellect interested in the sciences. Pete and Gwen are shown to be quite smart; however, why is Thompson there? He's portrayed as your typical thuggish bully/jock whom everyone avoids or begrudgingly befriends out of fear. Of course, he could be a smart kid, but we're certainly not led to believe that. Not at all.

THE WHATEVER.
Guess who the "secret" bad guy was? Yep, Norman Osborn, whose henchman pressured Connors into using his formula on himself, turning him into the Lizard. Apparently Osborn needed a working formula for himself (for some undisclosed ailment), and in the after-credits scene we see some hidden dude (presumably Osborn) talking to Prof. Connors in jail asking if "Peter knows what really happened to his parents." MWAHAHAHAHAH!

YAWN. I never liked the fact that Marvel brought Osborn "back to life" after one of the best -- and tragic -- Spidey storylines of all. This scene could lead one to believe that a sequel could be this past story -- the Green Goblin causing Gwen Stacv's death -- but that would be silly for a couple reasons. One, the Goblin (Norman and Harry) was already used to death in the original Raimi trilogy. And two, any such parallel to issues #121-122 was already seen in 2002's Spider-Man, with Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson in place of Gwen (but obviously not dying). Of course, we could an entirely new Osborn/Goblin plot which leads to Gwen's death, but it'd still use Norman Osborn.

Be sure to also check out Carl's review.

Posted by Hube at July 12, 2012 04:01 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Excellent review, Hube. And thanks for the shout-out!

Posted by: Carl at July 12, 2012 11:29 PM

It's never too soon for a movie company to make a ton of dough.

Posted by: The Pagan Temple at July 14, 2012 10:12 AM

Carl: Thanks, and you're quite welcome!

P.T.: Absolutely right. Sad, but true.

Posted by: Hube at July 14, 2012 11:07 AM