‘The Amazing Spider-Man’: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

'The Amazing Spider-Man': The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Marc Webb‘s “The Amazing Spider-Man,” the second of this summer’s three massive superhero movies, is now in theaters. And while so far it’s performing behind “Spider-Man 3,” the film’s doing reasonably well (expected to haul in somewhere in the neighborhood of $130 million by Sunday) given the lack of enthusiasm from hardcore fans, and the widespread dislike of the final Sam Raimi film, which in part helped to push things toward a blank slate again. And reviews have been pretty severely divided, with some hailing it as one of best examples of the comic book genre to date, and others loathing every frame of it.

Of course, this is normal for the polarized era we live in; as far as we’re concerned, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Webb’s film does many things terribly, but others rather well, we wanted to dig into the picture a little further, to really dissect the good, the bad and the ugly of “The Amazing Spider-Man.” As such, **major spoilers are ahead** — if you haven’t seen the film yet, best to stick with our spoiler-free review for now. And if you have, read on, and let us know your own thoughts on the film in the comments section.

The Good
1. Andrew Garfield & Emma Stone
The one thing we were confident on, even if the script turned out to be a “Spider-Man 3“-style train wreck, was our gut feeling that they’d got the casting right. Way back, when it was first announced that the reboot was coming, we named Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as among our favorites for the film, and were delighted when they got the jobs. And they didn’t disappoint. Some fans have argued that Garfield’s take on Peter Parker — as a little more of a brooding bad boy — is too much of a departure from the comics, but we found it refreshing, and certainly when put up against Tobey Maguire‘s wide-eyed innocent, who felt like he’d walked out of “Pleasantville.” And Stone, while arguably not given enough to do, was a far more compelling female lead than we’re used to seeing in a film like this, bringing her unique brand of goofy humor (the hot chocolate scene with her father being a particular highlight), but always in an organic way. It felt like the characters were actual people, and not just archetypes lifted from the comic — although Stone is spookily identical to the comic-book Stacy. We figured the actors would do good jobs (and a good chunk of that A- CinemaScore has to be down to them, right?), but what couldn’t have been anticipated, beyond the two being two attractive single people, was their real-life hook-up, and the chemistry is palpable in a way that’s all too rare in screen romantic couplings. In the Raimi films, you mostly got the sense that the two romantic leads barely tolerated each other; here, they’re visibly trying to resist the temptation to tear each other’s clothes off, mid-scene.

2. Denis Leary, Martin Sheen & Sally Field
Webb’s smart casting didn’t end with his two leads; the elder generation are well represented, giving new spins to characters who’d featured in earlier films. Coming off the best is Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, bringing the same Catholic gravitas that made President Bartlett the finest-ever screen president, to a more blue-collar kind of character. There’s far more of a sense of Ben as surrogate father than was in the earlier films, and Sheen brings a great sense of humor to the part as well, relishing the opportunity to do more than spout off about responsibility. He’s so good in the part that we hoped he might be spared in the reboot to let him return for later installments; but alas, it isn’t so, but his death is all the more wrenching for it. Sally Field has less to do, but she gets notes to play beyond simply being Peter’s conscience, and hopefully will have more to do in future installments. The most pleasant surprise was Denis Leary, who’s often been fine, but outside his TV appearances on his own show “Rescue Me,” hasn’t always given performances that live up to his stand-up charisma. Here, it’s the kind of part he’s played many times before — Irish cop! — and he does have to get behind some of the dimmer direction in the film (that palatial apartment suggests that Captain Stacy is wildly corrupt…) But he’s also slyly funny, gruffly paternal, and establishes a sweet relationship with his screen daughter Stone that makes his heroic death sting more than it should.

3. Smart reversals in the screenwriting
Reversal is a somewhat technical term that you might not be aware of — it means a flip of expectations, a surprising moment that might end up as one of the film’s best moments. Historically, one of the best examples is “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” — think Indiana Jones shooting the swordsman, or leaving Marion tied up after rediscovering her. There’s not a lot of these moments in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” but there’s a couple, and their presence goes to show that however much of a mess the finished film is, some very smart writers worked on the script at some stage (even if it’s impossible to give credit to any one of James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent or Steve Kloves, the three credited writers). The most memorable scenes come near the end. Gwen Stacy hides from The Lizard in a locker, with some kind of MacGuffin he needs. You brace yourself for yet another moment where she becomes the damsel in distress, dragged up a skyscraper by the villain as a hostage, but in fact, The Lizard simply takes what he needs and goes. Not earth-shattering, exactly, but a refreshingly smart decision from a character whose motives and behavior are mostly ridiculous. There’s an even better moment a little later; Peter, having promised a dying Captain Stacy to stay away from his daughter for her own safety, is giving her the cold shoulder, even skipping the funeral. Gwen comes his doorstop, but Peter is shut off — and at that moment, we scribbled furiously in our notes “Why doesn’t he just tell her?” And yet almost on cue, Gwen, walking away, turns around as says to Peter “He made you promise, didn’t he.” It’s a moment that makes us adore the character’s smarts, and a refreshing antidote to the usual kind of contrivances that keep a screen couple apart. More next time, please.

4. The little moments
Along similar lines, when we spoke to Marc Webb recently, he said one of the most important things for him was to be able to add some looseness and improvised character moments to a movie hedged in by technological (newfangled 3D cameras) and mythological constraints (fifty years of elaborately embroidered character back-story). These are arguably the best moments in all of “The Amazing Spider-Man.” We’re thinking specifically of two conversations Peter Parker has in the hallway of his high school – one with Uncle Ben and another with Gwen Stacey. Both moments feature what seem like improvised dialogue and a caught-in-the-moment freshness that much of the movie lacks, thanks largely to uninspired action set pieces and an abundance of unconvincing computer imagery. Another great moment is when Spider-Man, after setting up an elaborate web trap to alert him of the movements of evil super-villain The Lizard, absentmindedly plays a videogame on his smart phone. It’s brilliant shorthand to say, “Hey, he’s a human underneath that mask!” and one of the few moments we can grasp onto as an audience, since most of the movie is awash in loud noises and things crashing to the ground or exploding into glittery bits. Showier, but just as entertaining, is the Stan Lee cameo, a now-traditional moment that might give the elderly comics creator his best moment yet, as a librarian oblivious to the fight playing out behind him. It pretty much got the biggest laugh in the film from our crowd.

5. Emphasis on relationships
As good as some past superhero movies have been, it’s hard to think of one that’s actually placed emphasis on the relationships between people. Bryan Singer‘s “X-Men” movies got some of the way there, and Christopher Nolan‘s Batman pictures had character depth, but mostly focused on internal angst — the way that Bruce Wayne interacted with Rachel Dawes, or Batman with Commissioner Gordon, have never been the film’s strongest moments. But here, the relationship stuff is the best thing in the film, with Webb clearly bringing his “(500) Days Of Summer” strengths onto a bigger canvas. The instant chemistry and awkward, faltering courtship between Gwen and Peter feel authentic, and like “21 Jump Street” earlier in the year, the film resists fitting its high-school characters into archetypes — bully Flash Thompson is as much victim as attacker, and in another nice reversal, shows real compassion to Peter after Ben’s death. And Webb’s feel for the surrogate parent relationship with Peter’s aunt and uncle is good; again, it feels, when not truncated, as though their conflict, and love, comes from reality, rather than because that’s what it says in the comics. So much in the film falls flat, but we’d almost rather see Webb tackle a straight, action-sequence-free version of these characters than take on a sequel where he half-heartedly tries to go through the CGI motions again.

The Bad

1. Rhys Ifans
Sam Raimi very delicately planted the seeds for the appearance of Curt Connors in his three films, giving the character a brief mention in his first film before being played by Dylan Baker in the second and third. Should Raimi have opted to eventually follow through on that character’s transformation into the Lizard (although it’s worth noting that the aborted “Spider-Man 4” contained no such plans), he would have been building on the brief but effective few moments shared by Baker, a superb actor, and Tobey Maguire, delivering something that, at a minimum, would have achieved a certain level of nuance. In the new film, however, we’re introduced to Curt Connors as a shaggy-haired lab rat who’s less about the intelligence radiated by Baker’s work and more about beat-the-clock efficiency, to the point where this man hires Peter Parker right out of high school. The plot motivations for such a reckless move are certainly there — Peter may be the missing link in Connors’ work with Richard Parker — but there’s no real relationship between these two, compounded by Ifans’ casual, distracted performance. It’s not entirely his fault — he has nothing to play. Connors ostensibly could answer Peter’s questions about his missing parents, but he doesn’t act as if he’s holding back a secret. It all feels very rushed, and Ifans does this motivation-less chess piece of a character no favors by showing absolutely zero intellectual curiosity between growing his arm back, and becoming an apparently schizophrenic dinosaur man. It would have been much more fun if he’d simply reprised his character from “The Five-Year Engagement” with an arm tucked behind his back.

2. Lackluster action scenes
At the very least, you expect a certain amount of zippy energy from a movie called “The Amazing Spider-Man.” You want to be blown away. You want to be amazed. But the action sequences in the film are too often choppy and boring – oftentimes reminding you of similar but far superior sequences from Sam Raimi‘s earlier movies. With both Spider-Man and The Lizard wholly computer-generated, there’s an airlessness to the action, a lack of physical weight or heft (all this despite Webb’s insistence that they look at Spider-Man in this film from the point of physics) – they’re just two cartoon characters ping-ponging around the screen. And often Webb seems incapable of staging action in any kind of dynamic way, and things that looked promising from earlier trailers (like a long, single, unbroken POV shot of Spider-Man careening around New York City’s skyline) were either chopped up or absent entirely. Even more egregiously, Webb stages what is arguably the least interesting fight sequence in the history of the now decade-long franchise – a skirmish between the Lizard and Spider-Man in the halls of a public high school. Good lord. Could you have picked a more drab or uninteresting setting? Probably not. It doesn’t help that the script is embellished with a bunch of plot points that no one can make heads or tails of (so Gwen Stacy loads some kind of anti-virus to combat the Lizard’s death cloud but the cloud doesn’t disable Spider-Man’s powers too?) and a supposedly emotionally rousing climax where the scaffolding workers of New York point their cranes in the direction of Spider-Man, is undone by phony sentiment and (again) questionable physics. Even the final action beat, of Spider-Man swinging through New York, seems to miss the mark. Instead of soaring upwards like at the end of Sam Raimi’s first film, Spider-Man is falling down.

3. Slow pacing.
Even if you whole-heartedly love “The Amazing Spider-Man,” it’s hard to argue that Webb’s film is well paced. ‎While it’s only ‎2 hours and 16 minutes, which feels reasonable for a blockbuster that has to contend with an origin story (though Raimi managed to tell it with 15 minutes less time), “The Amazing Spider-Man” moves at the speed of molasses, aside from the dynamic third act. That first act in particular seems to move at a crawl, and while we admire Webb for taking his time to set up the characters, he’s constrained because we know he’s walking through the same beats as Raimi’s first film; it might differ in the details, but we know what’s coming. We don’t get Peter in costume as Spider-Man until well into the second act, which, in a film called “The Amazing Spider-Man,” is kind of a problem. We also don’t get Conners’ transformation into the Lizard until around the same time, and he doesn’t seem to have a grander plan until that third act, and because of that, there’s no threat, and no propulsion. We know that he’s meant to be the bad guy, but the stakes never feel high, and that makes those 2 hours and 16 minutes feel closer to three hours.

4. Baffling post-credits scene
So, okay. Let’s pretend “The Amazing Spider-Man” is the first Spidey movie thus far, and we’ve never seen any of this, right? So, with that knowledge, what’s going on in that post-credits sequence? Sony followed in Marvel’s footsteps not only by featuring a post-credits tease that hints at a future film, but also looks like it was shot in an afternoon by an intern. First, Curt Connors is taken to a large prison cell, one that probably couldn’t hold a giant lizard-man with super strength, but we’ll let it slide (although we guess he’s cured now? Or something?). Then a mysterious figure emerges from the shadows, asking if Connors told Peter everything about his father, to which Connors replies in the negative, allowing our mysterious, cloaked-in-darkness intruder a long, evil laugh, before he… teleports away? Is that what‘s going on here? Context clues in the film, as well as a knowledge of “Spider-Man” suggests this would be Norman Osborn, unseen but mentioned in the film as “dying” and needing some sort of transfusion (gee, what’s the worst that can happen?), and presumably destined to reappear as the Green Goblin in the second film. If so, why is this dying man teleporting into a prison cell? Can’t he just say these things from the other side of the bars? The credits clarify that this character is “Man In Shadows” and he’s played by Michael Massee, a deep-voiced, pockmarked character actor who has played memorably scummy villains in “24” and “The Crow,” and who bares a distinct resemblance to, um Willem Dafoe. He’ll presumably be replaced by a bigger name down the line, which makes the whole thing doubly irritating — maybe if we’d seen an unannounced A-lister turn up, it might have given more of a thrill. But as such, it strikes us as the creation of someone who understands that the Marvel post-credits scenes excite fans, but doesn’t have a clue why.

5. It wants to be two different movies, twice.
Noticeably darker than Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series and akin the recent run of grittier superhero films, “The Amazing Spider-Man” sometimes feels at odds with itself. It does have a darker, moodier palate to be sure — you can see it in the marketing and photographs and just in its general mien — but it also wants to be true to who Spider-Man is. But dark and somewhat gritty, and therefore more realistic, chafes up next to Spider-Man the quipster who likes to make corny jokes while fighting crime. It’s not completely incongruous, but imagine Batman in “Batman Begins” making dumb jokes while on his night prowls; it just doesn’t always feel that appropriate. But file under quibbles if you like. Perhaps more noticeable is the two movies within “The Amazing Spider-Man”; one is a fairly traditional superhero movie (that doesn’t reinvent the wheel in the slightest), and the other film (arguably the better part of the movie), is the romance and character struggle between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. “The Amazing Spider-Man” is scoring well with women and that’s because part of it is romantic, sexy, believable and fun; you’re into and buy their crush-worthy flirtations, and this is where director Marc Webb excels. “The Amazing Spider-Man” is arguably “The Notebook” of super hero movies. However, when you’re making one movie, you want to have some coherence. What we get is, much like our review already stated, a strong teenage love/coming of age story constrained by a mediocre and run-of-the-mill super hero film.

The Ugly

1. The Lizard in general
This is the fourth movie in the “Spider-Man” canon and the third to feature a scientifically minded mentor of Peter Parker’s who suffers a psychological break and a physical transformation that turns him into a villainous monster. Been there, done that. (Another example of how all this “reboot” talk is a lot of hot air.) And while director Webb can talk all he wants about how the movie’s central thematic concern is “finding your missing piece” (with Peter looking for the truth about his parents and the deranged doctor Curt Connors looking to replace his arm), it never quite comes across, especially since Connors seems to be working almost solely at the behest of the never-seen Norman Osborn. His injury seems more like a convenient plot device than an actual quest (and much of this was probably stripped away when Webb and company decided to delete scenes involving Connors’ wife and child, turning him into more of a two-dimensional cartoon dinosaur). His character is a mess –- does he change into the Lizard at a certain point, werewolf-style? Can he control it? Will he eventually get stuck that way forever? Do his scales fall off and drop into his soup or coffee? These questions beg to be answered. His evil scheme is never fully defined either –- he wants to turn everyone in New York into a fearsome lizard-beast. Or something. For what? There’s some half-baked implications about fixing imperfection, but it mainly comes across as something he’s doing because he saw Ian McKellen try THE EXACT SAME PLAN in the first “X-Men” movie. From a visual standpoint, the Lizard is a bore too – his facial features owe a considerable debt to the Killer Croc design from the “Batman: The Animated Series” cartoon, and he only gets to wear his trademark lab coat (a visual benchmark for the character since its inception) in what feels like half a scene. (The fact that we were cheering on the return of a lab coat tells you how low our energy was.) “Some random dinosaur guy” would have been a more appropriate name than “The Lizard.”

2. The compromised storyline hacked to death in post-production
It’s not unusual for films to feature lines of dialogue and sequences in ad campaigns that don’t make the final cut of a film. But “The Amazing Spider-Man” featured a significant chunk of material that viewers had seen in trailers and stills before release. Even without that knowledge, however, it’s not hard to see that “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which emerged from the aborted cocoon that was “Spider-Man 4,” feels like three movies stapled together. What suffers is Marc Webb’s supposedly grounded approach, which falters when we’re pointlessly zipping from location to location, day-to-night. The first third of the film features Peter learning about his parents, trying to figure out what they were hiding, discovering their magic equation and taking it to Connors. The mid-portion seems dedicated to Peter learning about his new powers, completely abandoning anything about his parents and then coping with the passing of Uncle Ben. And then the last third, where both his parents and Uncle Ben are never mentioned (nor any growing pains Peter had from his new powers, or struggles working his new web-slinger), finds Spidey facing off against the Lizard’s sketchy mad-science plan to turn New York into Koopatown. Never mind the fact that characters like the threatening Oscorp higher-up (Irrfan Khan) splits when the Lizard starts rampaging and never shows up again. And never mind the fact that, when Spidey first sees his scaly opposition, he doesn’t bat an eye. It’s very possible there was an excised scene before this where Spidey audibly reacts to Connors becoming such a terrifying creature, and maybe a scene later where Parker tries to reason with his old friend inside the lizard skin, but it’s not be found here, symbolic of the disjointed nature of the film overall.

3. Huge plot holes/suspension of disbelief
While Vulture clued us in a little bit more as to what happened to the Indian guy who worked for Oscorp and wanted to use the Lizard’s serum on a bunch of war vets, we walked out of the screening assuming he was still hanging by some spider-web off the bridge. But that’s not the only dangling thread or unbelievable moment in the movie. What about Spider-Man’s epic, 20-minute hunt for similar-looking criminals that ended not in an arrest but in a tacked-on moment towards the end where the criminal is still on his “to do” list, pinned on his cork board? Or how about Gwen Stacey, a low-level intern, being able to synthesize an anti-venom and load it into some kind of machine that will dispense it across all of New York? (And what happens to people who haven’t been exposed to the Lizard serum who are then sucking down the anti-venom? Couldn’t there be serious health risks or, at the very least, annoyingly loud coughing?) These are just a few of the huge plot holes/gaps in logic that “The Amazing Spider-Man” assaults you with almost every moment it’s on screen. When we brought these up to a friend of ours, they said, “It’s a slippery slope criticizing a comic book movie for a lack of realism.” And it’s not a lack of realism – we’re clearly sitting in a theater about to watch a radioactive spider give a moody teenager enhanced abilities – it’s the clumsiness of the script, the lack of its own internal logic, that is the most grating and (worst of all) actively pulls us out of our enjoyment of the film. It doesn’t help that the movie is coming out so close after “The Avengers” – a movie that reminded us how much fun the “comic” part of comic book movies can be, with an internal logic that was occasionally cartoonish but never far from compelling or believable.

4. The science.
And on a similar note, “If it bends, it’s funny, but if it breaks, it’s not funny,” a great writer/director once wrote. The same theory applies to the suspension of disbelief. And there’s something ungainly about the science in “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Yes, it’s a comic book movie, and yes, Peter Parker is the son of scientist Richard Parker, and so he’s inherited much of his intelligence and aptitude. However, we’re to believe that Peter Parker is the only amateur scientist in the world who has figured out how to use Osborn’s biocable technology to create web shooters? Yes, this is the way the origins go down in the comics, but when you’re creating a fairly dark and realistic Spider-Man movie — which ostensibly the movie wants to be most of the time; see how often the story is rooted in character and emotion — it’s much easier to buy that Parker would inherit true and holistic spider-powers instead of creating web-shooters that will carry the weight of a teenage boy swinging all over Manhattan (the fact that Peter jumps right off a building without safety-testing the webshooters and whether they work seems to act counterintuitively with a boy we’re supposed to believe is a super genius). Sure, we’re shown moments of Peter’s intelligence beforehand — Uncle Ben telling us he stopped being able to help with Peter’s homework after the age of ten, and Parker’s affinity for making gadgets around the house — and perhaps this is where, once again, all the clunky editing and dropped sub-plots come in — but, Peter seems to go from smart kid to genius in a few short, unbelievable steps. Also, why is it that the technology in Oscorp seems to be right out of “Prometheus,” but the rest of this world is pretty similar to ours? The science of ‘Spider-Man’ doesn’t seem to always jibe with the rest of the movie.

5. It never quite justifies its existence
The whole “reboot” angle to “The Amazing Spider-Man” is a cynical corporate ploy. This is less a reboot than a faithful remake of the first “Spider-Man,” with slight alterations to characters and plot and, for the most part, it’s almost exactly the same. It ends the same, Uncle Ben dies in a scene almost shot-for-shot like the original, there’s even a similar music cue for the first time Peter Parker climbs a wall. But more than specifics, it just kind of feels like a watered-down version of Raimi’s film. If the most successful reboots in recent memory – “Star Trek,” “Casino Royale,” and “Batman Begins” – have taught us anything, it’s that you can’t be too precious with the pre-existing mythology. People will respond, loudly, to huge shifts or alterations as long as they’re pulled off with style and panache, and it would have been really fascinating to see a version of Spider-Man where, say, Uncle Ben didn’t die but something else spurred on Peter Parker’s commitment to masked vigilantism. (Hey, if “Star Trek” can blow up the planet Vulcan, Spider-Man could get away with this.) You hunger for deviation from the norm watching “The Amazing Spider-Man,” but everything seems so similar – there’s a heroic moment on a bridge, an example of New Yorkers teaming together to save our hero, and even major character changes like having Gwen Stacey be the center of attention instead of Mary Jane (or having The Lizard beat up on our hero instead of Green Goblin) seem arbitrary and underdeveloped. The biggest difference we can tell is that Gwen is blonde while Mary Jane was a redhead. Besides that, they’re kind of the same. Which is something you could say about a lot of “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

–Oliver Lyttelton, Gabe Toro, Drew Taylor and RP

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Comments

DIGITDEVELOPMENT

Personally I loved the film! i was never ever a fan of Sam (trainwreck) Raimi, I think his style is campy- which is fine for him I guess but it seems like the man cannot get over his whole Evil Dead style to the point where it was just flooding the Spiderman movies in camp value. That's my bias opinion and the rest of my comments about the film I will try and keep with fact.
1st off, Raimi's TWO films, I dont include the 3rd because… well who would honestly, were decent… I did enjoy 2. Maguire I never liked as Parker. He was overly harassed and picked on in the first, to the point where it seemed like lazy writing and cliche. Matthew Vaugh's Kickass, I believe is the best version of how Parker should be treated… a loser who's invisible… although he obviously wasn't a boy genius how Peter is in both the film and comic. Garfield fits the physical build of what spidey is supposed to look like. Maguire always looked a bit too pudgy in his suit (which was somewhat the equivalent to Keaton's batsuit- overly rubber and Hollywood); no way do I believe that Parker made that suit himself (talk about suspension of belief!). Amazing's suit was also a bit Hollywood, but it moved and had wrinkles and reacted to Garfields body, like it does in the comics. Spidey also moved and fought how I always believed he should for once. Skinny, yet ripped, and agile as shit. Maguire's whole mirror muscular scene he was too big… never have I seen spidey that big and overly muscular. Garfield was thin and very toned… almost how Bale in Begins made it believable that HE WAS infact beating the shit out of baddies because of his build.
Maguire was bit by a super spider genetically enhanced (for reasons they dont go into), and your telling me that this super scientific facility goes-oops a spider escaped for no other reason than a plot device to bite Maguire's hand (again suspension of belief anyone?! hello).
SOME of the action scenes seemed a bit overly CG, but the characters in Amazing allowed me to buy it because for once I was invested in the characters. Avengers, the Hulk… seriously was anyone going "man thats so real I believe that thing is real??? Yet here we are complaining about CG effects– which without them Spidey wouldn't be moving how he does, which WAS how he moves and looks in the comics. Raimi's Spidey webslinged over and over again in overly done CG shots which had Spidey swinging like a stiff board with not a lot of movement as far as the classic Mcfarlane skinny spidey is supposed to look when he swings. Plus every shot in SPIDERMAN 1 looks CG as hell.
Why is everyone complaining about it being the same as Raimi's origin??? Im sorry, do we want him to go into outer space and get bitten by an alien?? What do you expect? He gets bitten by a radioactive spider…. THATS SPIDERMAN!
Spiderman is also supposed to make wise cracks. I thought Garfield's jokes throughout the movie were hilarious and is how Peter Parker behaves as Spiderman. The cast made great 3 dimensional characters, especially the adult supporting cast- Ben, May, and Captian Stacy. Ben Parker was especially done very well… and not just an old man spouting comic book lines of great responsibility.
How can anyone talk shit on the Lizard when Green Goblin was like something out of a Power Rangers movie?? (and btw I adore W Dafoe as an actor but his character WAS 2 dimensional) All of Raimi's villains were split personalities and it got very old… and yes I understand the Lizard was talking to himself but IF your read the comics or watched the Animated Series he is a man battling himself. Although Conners from the animated series will always be my favorite and loved the fact that he had a family. He wants his arm to grow back- thats the story of Conner's… if the movie went off the deep end and departed from the comic character- you'd complain, yet when it's true to the source material- you complain.
Parker NEVER EVER worked for Conners…. he was merely assisting him because Conner's was working on his father's project. You think he's getting a paycheck or something??? SERIOUSLY??? Peter Parker developed webbing and web shooters in the comics and animated show… Raimi's whole biological spiderweb was BS- if your gonna go with the whole, he can make webs like a spider, well than technically the web should be shooting out of his asshole LIKE a spider. Maguire showed no signs of being genius… infact if you read the comics Parker does in fact work with Conners and is his brightest prodigy.
How are you going to complain about the school scene, when Raimi has Green Goblin show up at a hospital and force Aunt May (sterile and boring btw) to spout off a prayer–? Raimi's movie cashed in with this whole "GO NEW YORK YAY!" post 9-11 bullshit, which made it of the time… whereas Amazing stands on it's own and is true to the character of Parker and the comics.
My last comment about the film was yes, it was a bit darker than others, especially for Spiderman… but if he had made it look bright and comic book– youd be complaining even more so about how much it was a rehash of Raimi's films. It's different, deal with it. Plus if you really wanna analyze it– New York is a dangerous rough place, its dark and creepy at night in certain areas– which is another reason why Spidey needs to be silly and funny… its how he counteracts the messed up city he's in.
I loved the movie but seriously this backlash from people for reasons which make no sense and their arguments totally contradict themselves is getting on my nerves. If you're gonna debate something, have something to say that holds a point and try not to say shit that counteracts what your arguing because all those points could be argued AGAINST Raimi's trilogy. It's like saying "I didn't like Batman Begins because i've already seen Bruce's parents die, been there done that…"
Finally I will end on a slight positive note about the Raimi films…. aside from the 3rd…. Danny Elfman's score was terrific! One of the few great things about those films.

Mynameisunimportant

I think the reason that I loved this film while alot of other Arachnophiles didn't is because I've always preferred Peter Parker to Spider-man. In fact it's a commonly overlooked fact that Peter Parker isn't Spidey; Spidey is Peter Parker. Everything about Spider-man is an extension of Pete's personality. He's a shy, unpopular kid in real life, so he makes his alter-ego a confident wisecrack machine. He lost his father figure because he didn't stop a completely unrelated crime when he could, so he cannot stop being Spider-man because the same might happen again. In fact, that is one major change in this as a reboot. In this film he begins as a vigilante because of revenge, but the voice of reason, in the form of Capt. Stacy, makes him see that he isn't trying to help people like he tells himself he is. It's also why Uncle Ben has to die. Before his death Peter used his powers selfishly and carelessly, I'd go as far as saying that he'd probably become a villain if it wasn't for Ben's death.

Z-man

This movie completely destroyed the future of Spider-man for me. This movie was so horrible, I asked the movie theater for my money back. There was so much that was wrong with this story line I don't even want to get into it. It's like they completely burned all of the original comic books, and stole all of the ideas. I was hesitant to see this movie the moment I saw what the costume of Spider-man was going to look like. I should have stayed home instead of waste $20 on this movie.

Couch Potato Cop

OK, I was a huge Spider-man fan growing up, and I guess I still am. Sorry to say: I was disappointed big time with "The Amazing Spider-man". I much prefer the Sam Raimi trilogy.
In a nutshell:
–Very odd pacing. The movie focused on "smaller moments" and let them unfold slowly, but it made the movie hard to sit through.
–Why make unnecessary changes to the origin story? The die-hard fanboys know what I'm talking about.
–By having the origin story play out so slowly it delayed the eventual Spidey vs. Lizard plot, which almost seemed like an after-thought.
–No J.Jonah Jameson, Daily Bugle, Betty Brant, etc ?
–Capt. George Stacy was a proponent of Spider-man in the comics, NOT his adversary.
–Andrew Garfield is a gifted actor and did a good job overall. But he looked gangly & spindly in the awful costume.
–The action sequences failed to dazzle.
–The opening briefly introducing PP's parents really didn't pay off anywhere. But why even bring in the parents anyway ? They didn't even appear in the first 20 or so years of Spider-man comics, and even then, ever-so-briefly. They were minor characters. And by the way, they were spies, not scientists.
–The dude who had his convenience store robbed was a douche-bag and kind of deserved it.
[That's neither here nor there, but just thought I'd throw it out there.]
–The cryptic end-credit "extra scene" added nothing. In fact, it was so poorly done that even Spider-man "experts" don't know who the mystery character was supposed to be.

carlos rodriguez

spiderman 4 would of been a hit with jim carrey as carnage the lizard black cat and SPOILER morbius but instead they raped tobey maguire and rebooted there is so many things wrong with this movie lets start :1the suit is more futuristic not original 2 doctor connors is all around evil he's not suppose to be all evil hes suppose to be akind scientist with a son and wife trying to get his arm back then he turns into evil lizard. 3 aunt may is 68 not 40.4 there is no no untold story as the movie display stated only the original.5 he was suppose to be in a wrestling macth the skrewd dat up . 6 the lizard did not look like a lizard look up spiderman 4 lizard poster and then tell me wich is da shit . 7 spiderman does not take off his mask every 3 seconds in this case he does i hate this movie. 8 ign reviews were write when they said there coping batman they make it night all day exept one scene its sunset oh the next one is gonna be a villian weve never seen in are lives proto goblin OTHER WISE KNOWN AS SWAMP BEAST WTF P.S.: THANK U SONY FOR RUINING MY CHILD HOOD HERO:(.

james

this uncle Ben sucked the previous one felt more real and this one was just a dick and im sorry sally field i loved u in the bandit but she makes a horrible aunt may come on she didn't even have the gray hair this was a good movie but it was just to soon from raime ones which i loved all the characters for the most part except kirsten just because before this movie she had played a whore in pretty much everything and it just felt weird seeing her in a role like this anyways i believe people need to stop arguing that the amazing spiderman is better simply because its new everyone needs to watch the other first two to remember how good they were and then maybe argue about it

Austin

The ending with the ugly got me to thinking that you haven't read the comic books before judging the movie, or haven't had any background experience with The Amazing Spider-Man, the actual comic book name of this series. In the beginning Gwen was Peter's first love and afterwards he met Mary; and the sole concept of the villain being lizardman was important, as the green goblin wasn't introduced quite yet.

I'm also inclined to disagree with the review on the action scenes as they were supposed to be a extreme suspension of disbelief, I mean heck you have a lizardman fighting a human mutated to have the genetics of a spider. Overall cut the movie some slack, the movie was well-made and had some holes, but none too big to judge it otherwise.

Katie Walsh

The Good: Frankie the Cannibal Lizard Mouse

JW

I loved this movie and spiderman
Garfield is way better than maguire
Everything about it is better

The Village Videot

You must have seen a different movie than the one I did.

RJ

Arguably, the most use of the word 'arguably' in any one article, of all time (arguably)

mpbstereo

Solid analysis, don't necessarily agree with all of it. I though Ifans did just fine with severely limited material. The school fight was intriguing, if underdeveloped. I agree that Webb has a bit of ways to go as far as handling action, but if you look back at Batman Begins (and the reviews for that film suggest as much), Nolan was a bit out of his element there as well. To a degree, I'm reminded of Superman Returns – emphasis on character with questionable plot mechanics and slightly underwhelming action sequences. Truthfully, I'm rather relieved they went "small" for this movie and let the character beats do the driving. Next time out (and let's not kid ourselves, there will be a next time out), I'm hoping Webb stays on at least as a producer. They could push this FAR if they stick to a certain moment in the comics that changed everything (a certain death that is not only canon, but has never been reverted).

Comic Book Candy

Great review! I left the theater wanting to like this film more than I did. The movie felt like cinematic deja vu. It was too soon to use so many of the same beats from the Raimi film. It really needed to deviate greatly (much like Webb attempted to do with the style) for it to stand on its own.

Tom M.

It's a goddamn comic book movie, hipster-Playlist! You're looking for the most insane things to pick apart because you believe it makes you better than the mainstream. This is a film made for children and teenagers – people who adore Spidey. I'm sorry if it doesn't satisfy your indie/art film tastes, you pretentious wanna-be-filmmakers. Get your heads out of your arses… Call this article a critical look all you want, I don't care.

Carmine

I liked the action sequences though there seemed to be too few of them. I think it's hard to sit through a 2 hour plus super hero movie that doesn't do well with storytelling and plot movement.

I think some of the reviews left out an overall insult to the intelligence of the audience that watched this movie. After gaining his powers, Peter Parker didn't seem to be inconspicuous at all. He was doing amazing things in his high school with no questions asked. The background people just seemed to act like this over the top stuff was normal. He jumps to the top of the subway car and sticks there, and not one person is truly amazed by this? Some of the people see this and actually try to fight him? He dunks a ball and breaks the backboard? Catches a football, throws it back bending an upright in the process, and you just here a football player say "Come on!"? Just over the top. It shouldn't be easy to guess who Spiderman is, but you had a feeling that anyone at his school should have known. There could have been creative ways to show off his powers without making it blatantly obvious!

I honestly enjoyed the movie, but it was promised that this movie would be more authentic than the last installments. Though Spiderman's smart allic lines while fighting were welcomed by me (were any of your critics Spiderman Comic fans at all? That is one of the main characteristics of Spiderman), the changes in the origin story should have been handled better if there were going to be any. I also know that the stars require some face time, but I was starting to feel like this movie should have been called The Amazing Peter Parker as Spiderman traipsed around the movie mask-less more often than he did with his mask on. His identity was revealed four times. Wow! This is not including how many people saw Peter Parker do Spiderman like things and could have just described Parker to the Police sketch artist to collect some of that reward money for the arrest of Spiderman. Last, but not least, the city has a giant Lizard with a chemical warfare weapon which was seen running amok, tossing cars off a bridge, and getting the masked vigilante off the street takes priority?

Donn

As much as I wanted to like this movie, I just can't. Did Marc Webb even read a Spidey comic before making this? There are so many things wrong with this movie, too many to list, but it all starts with this: Where was the phase that made Spiderman/Peter Parker who he is today, "With great power comes great responsibility"??? Simply put, without that line, there is NO Spiderman. None. Hoping the second one is better because I certainly don't want to see them kill off this franchise!

Alan

""If it bends, it's funny, but if it breaks, it's not funny,” a great writer/director once wrote. " Lol. I love it when people cite this quote from 'Crimes and Misdemeanors'. The Alan Alda character says it, and he's depicted as an obnoxious, self-deluded, egotistic moron with no undestanding of drama and comedy. In the scene in question, the Woody Allen character rolls his eyes at the po-faced blankness of the suggestion: why do people, then, quote it as if it's some form of great statement of art?

Alan

"And yet almost on cue, Gwen, walking away, turns around as says to Peter "He made you promise, didn't he." It's a moment that makes us adore the character's smarts" Really? I thought that the dialogue was too obvious and the moment would have been more effective with just a look from Gwen.

Zack

You address this, but I wasn't a big fan of the fact that Uncle Ben's killer was left as a deliberately dangling, ostensibly recurring plot thread. The way I see it, the killer isn't supposed to be some Moby Dick figure; he's random, faceless and easily brought down once Peter actually cares enough to do it simply to emphasize how horrible things can come from petty, banal places that we don't think are worthy of our attention.
And on a less pretentious note, why the fuck was he packing when his robbery strategy involves robbing the register while the clerk's back is turned?

Great Scott!

I feel that unless a person has watched the new movie and the first Raimi film within a few days of each other, that person should not be permitted to write reviews, goods/bads/uglies, or comments comparing the two. Have you all done this? I have. They were largely the same, neither was perfect, both did some things better and some things worse… Both highly emphasize interpersonal relationships (both of the romantic variety and otherwise). Both villains were ultimately painted too cartoonish to make a lasting impression. TAS darker? No film containing that ridiculous Stan Lee scene anywhere in it can be called dark. Sheen a better Ben? Watch Babylon 5: The River of Souls; discover Martin Sheen is an awful actor. In TAS he more often than not came off as wooden. As of right now, I still prefer Raimi's because I know the amazing sequel it led to…maybe TAS will deliver something greater after it deals with its growing pains.

Max

have no idea why the blog-o-sphere is puzzled by the film's post credits sting when its safe to assume that Dr. Connors was merely talking to his splintered "evil" personality that was borne out of the serum injections he self administered through out the film. One scene that supports this idea is the part where Connors while in the sewer, is seen talking to his evil alter ego urging him to kill Peter Parker.

EF Brackett

I liked the movie overall, and the big reason is Garfield and Stone. It does have its problem, but I'm on board with this new direction because the previous incarnation needed to end. It does seem inconsistent though when you mention the slow pacing early in the film, but also give kudos to the emotional and relationship coverage in the movie. Most of the emotional and relationship stuff is established early in the film, and it's done well. Personally, I would have liked to see even more of the relationships built between the characters and less of the obligatory, summery action scenes.

rodie

"they didnt believe the audience could relate to a villain who didnt have a human face"

You've pinpointed a major problem with Hollywood today. The prequelization of movies and characters. Why in the world do audiences have to RELATE to a VILLAIN? He's a villain! You relate to the heroes. Just because Lucas saw fit (or ill-fit, if you will) to use three movies to explain the backstory of Darth Vader so audiences "relate" to him, doesn't mean that the right thing to do. One of the reasons Nolan's Batman films have been so engaging I feel is because of how little back story we truly get on the villains.

waltkovacsq

raimi's original script treatment for 4 did indeed have the lizard. sony nixed the idea…they didnt believe the audience could relate to a villain who didnt have a human face

Eric

I admired the detail of this review, but I wondered what its purpose was. I enjoyed the movie, despite what the reviewer's POV saw. I'm no novice – having watched movies for 60 years, and written two award-winning (unproduced) screenplays. And I don't care about the validity of the science, or the first act being (semi)repetitive of the Toby Spidey movies. Who cares? I like it, and it got produced! HEre's my much-shorter review:
"AMAZING SPIDER-MAN" A great new start.

I was curious: Why another Spiderman movie so soon? I saw it in 2D the other night, and I loved it. I've been going to movies for 60+ years, and have written 2 award-winning screenplays. I liked the first two Toby movies, but compared to this one, Toby's seem like romantic comedies. (I turned off the DVD of Toby III because of the foolish petty-jealousy subplot.)

Garfield's Spidey seems more sensitive and intelligent than Toby's. And Gwen is more humble and vulnerable than Mary Jane. While I was at first put off by The Lizard (shades of Godzilla!), when he Jekylls back into his human form – with a hopeful inspiring vision – I could accept it. I liked the climax and the ending. And sit through the credits!

Juan Caruci

In my opinion, I feel like you have missed the point of ASM. Though your review has several good points, one can't help but notice that you compared Webb's film to Raimi's way too much. I understand why you would do that, but you're forgetting that the whole point of the reboot was to make it DIFFERENT than Raimi's films. The first two Raimi films ended with Spider-Man swinging around Manhattan. However, this film took a different approach and decided to show Spider-Man's acrobats and reflexes over his simple, boring ability to swing. That's why it ended with him swinging and jumping through an alleyway, avoiding things in his path (very much like the Web Rush in the ASM video-game). As for the dark-comedy confusion, I personally believe that's what makes the film stand out. The fact that Peter Parker has lost every father figure he has had the opportunity of coming across is tragic; it truly is a dark story. The jokes are necessary for Peter to stay sane. Stan Lee mentioned it himself in an interview, if Peter Parker wouldn't be making jokes or laughing, he'd just be crying all the time. And that's the sad truth, he has a tragic life and the humor helps him through it. It was in the comics, it was in this movie, and I thought it couldn't have been better.

Joshua Rizzo

I just think this review is ridiculous. It was a good movie to the average moviegoer & I'd recommend it to anyone.

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