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The Amazing Spider-Man (2012 film)

The 2012 film directed by Marc Webb Based on the Marvel comics character

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"Eh"-mazing and Unnecessary Reboot of the Beloved Marvel Comics Character

  • Jul 4, 2012
Sam Raimi’s first Spider-man film was a good launch for Spidey. It had major references to the Ultimate and 616 versions of the character that made it work. Sure, it was a little campy but it was heaven for Spidey comic fans since it captured the essence of its characters from Aunt May to J.Jonah Jameson, Mary Jane and Peter Parker. They weren’t perfect but they were good, fun and entertaining. However, Raimi’s franchise took a major downturn with the release of its abysmal second sequel (despite it being a success in the box-office), “Spider-man 4” was shelved and what resulted is a another reboot or what Hollywood likes to call it “re-imagining”.

I feared for the worst when rumors that changes to his origin was going to be incorporated into this new Spidey film directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer). The alterations to his origins were pretty cosmetic and while the roots and the motivations behind Parker’s becoming “Spider-man” is different, it comes up the same. There is a new interpretation of “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”, but in the end it all comes out a little hollow.

                       Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors in ``The Amazing Spider-Man.''

                      Denis Leary as George Stacy in ``The Amazing Spider-Man.''

The film begins when we see Peter Parker as a young child, whisked away to his Uncle Ben and Aunt May’s (Martin Sheen and Sally Field) house by his parents for reasons unknown. Fast forward several years into the present and Peter (Andrew Garfield) now grown up into young man who has a passion for science and photography, who likes to stand up for others but always ending up at the short end of a stick. His principles and heart have put him in Gwen Stacy’s (Emma Stone) good graces though.

Peter one day chances upon his father’s suitcase and decides to look up his father’s old colleague Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) and sneaks his way into some secret lab. Here, Peter ends up being bitten by a genetically enhanced spider and this bite had endowed Peter with the powers of the arachnid.  Then tragedy strikes, when a liquor store robbery ends with his Uncle Ben being shot dead. Parker is now on the hunt for the man who killed his uncle, and developing his web shooters, Peter is now Spider-man. Prosecuted by the police but admired by the public, Spider-man is now in the public eye as a masked vigilante. But his emergence is followed by the a non-human lizard-like creature that is a threat to the entire city.

 Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy in ``The Amazing Spider-Man.'' Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker in ``The Amazing Spider-Man.''

                     Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man in ``The Amazing Spider-Man.''

Spider-Man 3” was definitely broken and so the Spidey franchise had made drastic new changes to the origins of the wall-crawler. Starting from scratch would’ve been a good move, but instead, the spirit of the Spider-man character appears to be a little lost in this new film. The film takes the dynamics of the Peter-Mary Jane dynamics from “Ultimate Spider-Man” and then gives him his first love in the 616 continuity in the person of Gwen Stacy. The film also takes inspiration from the Ultimate version by making Richard Parker a biochemist and that school assault was definitely inspired by a storyline from the “Ultimate Spider-Man“ comic books. It leaves some questions unanswered to whet the viewer’s appetite. The secrets of the parents of Peter Parker was revealed in the “Special comic book Annual” before, so I think it may be safe to assume that this new franchise may be headed more in the direction of the Ultimate version (however, the web-shooters this time are not organic).

I did like the fact that Peter Parker is portrayed as a brilliant young man of science and the way his connection with Curt Connors was established. Parker’s romance with Gwen also felt interesting, as with his Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) issues. But what I missed was the spirit of the character itself. I know, this was more meant to be done with a more serious tone which I liked, and the film may be the beginning of a new trilogy (hint of the Green Goblin and “Spider Island“ storylines?), but the lack of the loved supporting characters from the source material bothered me. I felt that the film served me something different and yet, so familiar, that it was somewhat hard to embrace. I suppose this was because the screenplay had a lot of missteps and the villain itself was reduced to a mere mad scientist type that was not the Curt Connors I have grown to hate and yet, sympathize with. In the end, I felt the film had the right intentions but forgot the one big thing that makes a comic adaptation successful; and this is getting the spirit of the story right.

                     Martin Sheen as Ben Parker and Sally Field as May Parker in ``The Amazing Spider-Man.''

                     A scene from "The Amazing Spider-Man."

                    Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker in "The Amazing Spider-Man."

Be that as it may, despite my dissatisfaction with the screenplay, the film proves to be entertaining in some ways and can no doubt be embraced by the casual movie watcher. The direction may feel a little uneven and rather shaky with the more darker tone and the attempt to balance the tempo with some humor, but it wasn’t a total disaster. The film was also quite handsome from a visual standpoint. The Lizard effects were very good; the designs made him look like a cross between a human and a reptile, but a whole lot bigger, nastier and stronger. The Spidey suit designs were, I am not sure, it looked like a cross between the “Spider-man 2099” and the “Scarlet Spider” comic designs with the influence of the original uniform. The web-slinging effects were also fluid and looked natural, but I cannot really say if there was a reason why Spidey almost always showed up at night (perhaps to hide the CGI imperfections?) rather than a day and night hero as with how Raimi’s version defined the character as “your friendly neighborhood” hero.

The fights between web-head and the green mean lizard were cool at certain points, but there were times that it lacked narrative drama. There was hardly any intensity in their encounters, it seemed like a “swing to the rescue” and then “chase the bad guy away’ kind of deal. The fights were alright but they were relatively too short and well, a little dull. I did not feel that the stakes were exactly high. The set designs were good and I did feel the cityscape when Spidey swings from rooftop to rooftop. I also liked the tracking shots Webb utilized on occasion. The final act did serve up some needed drama but it was a tad too predictable especially for comic book fans.

Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man in "The Amazing Spider-Man." Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy in ``The Amazing Spider-Man.''

Emma Stone did make for a great Gwen Stacy. She was able to charm and she made me truly believe that she was gutsy spunky and sassy blond who was the love of Peter’s life. It is a little too soon for me to make a call on Garfield’s Peter Parker, but there were times that I thought that he was a better Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire, and there was a time he wasn’t. I’ve always liked the Curt Connors character, and while I liked Rhys Ifan’s portrayal, the character was a little too one-dimensional to engage me. Martin Sheen, Sally Field and Denis Leary are capable performers and despite their limited screen time, they managed to make a mark in its story.

There were some interesting new potential twists, and as much as I wanted to think of this as a “What If?” alternate universe, it just did not work. I would like to think of it as well, another re-imagining; inspired by the character, but not really the Spider-man character itself. It works on some levels, but the screenplay was a little clumsy with the lack of a deeper characterization, several transitional issues and was riddled with missteps and holes that really bothered me. “The Amazing Spider-Man” had the right idea, but it felt completely unnecessary. I cannot believe that I am saying this, they should have done a “Spider-Man 4” instead and had gone on to develop the storyline of Parker's parents rather than rebooting the whole thing. The changes felt more cosmetic than something more for its narrative. Then again, let’s see if this new version can go somewhere we don’t expect. To its credit, it is better than "Spider-Man 3", but the only thing amazing in this new film is the number of times Spidey lost his mask and the people of New York still do not know who he is. “Spider-Man 2” (especially the 2.1 version) still stands as the best “Spider-Man” movie to date.

RENTAL [3 Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "The Amazing Spider-Man." Poster art for "The Amazing Spider-Man."

A Somewhat A Somewhat A Somewhat

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July 09, 2012
I need to see this, gotta see Denis Leary.
July 09, 2012
I didn't like this one, but it can be entertaining to some despite the clumsiness in its script.
July 08, 2012
You definetly liked this more then me, enough to go on more but I really just walked away with that "another Spiderman" movie feel and for what it's worth, I liked 3 more then this one. No mention of the cranes huh? That was so damn hokey I couldn't believe it.
July 08, 2012
Yeah, well, I tried to be fair and while I did not like this movie, it did have some good scenes as homage to "Ultimate Spider-Man" and from a visual sense, it was decent. I was tempted to give this one a 2.5/5, but this was better than the god-awful GL movie which I gave a 2. The scene with the cranes were so silly that my brain wanted to block it out LOL!
July 06, 2012
Only because you said it still ends up being entertaining I will go check this out but I still think they definitely should have went into another direction with the new spidey
July 06, 2012
remember, see it matinee!
July 07, 2012
lmao you read my mind
July 05, 2012
Excellent review! When I look at the pic you posted above I ask myself, Sally Field as Aunt May? Even at her age she is still extemely too good looking to be this sweet old lady that she was portrayed as in the comics and the first three films. I am torn with your review because on films we have both seen, I am pretty much in agreeement with your ratings, but my son raved about it and there again we both agree on most films. I guess I will have to see it myself to decide.
July 06, 2012
Thanks, Michael! Please keep in mind that this review comes from the heart of a true believer and has read the Spidey comics since he was 6 years old. That said, I may be a little biased, but I am sure you know that I am pretty fair. Nolan's Batman movies were not 100 % faithful and yet I loved those movies. all that matters is the execution, and how it captures the spirit of the character. This one...I think it misses. You will also be bothered with the way Ben and May were portrayed. Gwen and Peter dynamics were good, but it wasn't anything special. In a nutshell, filmmakers cannot mess up the "Great power comes great responsibility" quote that defined Spidey--and this kind of did.

It isn't a terrible movie, so seeing it matinee may help. Is your son also a comic fan like you and me?
July 09, 2012
My son is a huge comic fan but interesting enough, he has only been into mainstream (Marvel and DC) super hero comics for a few years. Now he buys about 20 titles a month. I want to see this film while it is still in the theater but my free time to go to the theater is limited.
July 05, 2012
I don't know, I still think The Amazing Spider Man has moments where it's just trying way too hard to be serious.  I actually kind of liked the campy nature of Raimi's 2002 film more because it's a film that isn't sitting there asking me to take it seriously and is fully embracing just what it is.  The Amazing Spider Man goes for the gritty reboot not because it would benefit Spider-Man... but because they think that's what people want and because that's how Batman Begins worked out.  It didn't bother me too much I just didn't like the fact that it felt like the way a teenager in high school acts when he wants to be taken seriously. 

And generally speaking, I don't care so strongly about whether or not it stays true to the source material (especially with comic book adaptations) but I will say that one thing that did somewhat bother me was what they did with Uncle Ben.  The fact that the movie completely and totally forgets about it at some point and presses forward while leaving that unresolved and NEVER going back to it really bothered me a lot.  Not just in terms of the source material... but even a movie goer who doesn't care for the comics SHOULD be bothered by this because it's a story arc that goes absolutely no where... that really SHOULD go somewhere.  This also means that for the very first time EVER fanboys have every right to be upset (and I do mean for the first time ever).  This is one of the most important people in Peter Parker's life and the movie sort of just glosses over it.  The film forgets about Uncle Ben quite quickly and moves on. 

I actually think part of the reason he only showed up at night is BECAUSE of the "gritty" nature of the film in and of itself.  Video games do a very similar thing.  The reason why the "gritty" look seems to compliment the Batman movies more so is mostly because of the tone and world that Nolan establishes so well.  Not necessarily because it's Batman, but because Christopher Nolan has created his own world and mythos.  The Amazing Spider-Man, in an attempt to keep the "gritty realism," going and to provide a "darker" tone keeps things going primarily at night.  Like I said, some video games tend to do the same thing (although video games mostly do it by using the colors gray and brown).  He seems to come out at night because the movie is just trying THAT hard to have a "dark" look and feel to it.  At least that's how it comes off.  He has one moment, I recall, where he was out in the day and that's when he's fighting Doc Connors at the high school. 

One last thing that I liked in your review was mentioning how he took his mask off so many times and yet can still maintain a secret identity.... somehow.  I think this was my strangest nitpick.  The fact that he just can't keep himself secret.  He reveals himself to EVERY major character in the film.  EVERY major character discovers that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.  The movie even hints that Aunt May has figured it out (despite that Aunt May almost never appears in the film).  But all the major characters either figure it out (as in Connors case) or he out right reveals himself. 

Good review, I was pretty engaged in this one.  I overlooked a few things that reading your review really brought to light.  I'm not sure if this is really worse than Spider Man 3 yet.  Spider Man 3 had many problems, but at least Spider Man 3 didn't seem to have story points that dropped off the way this one did.  At least that movie was... consistent?  I guess that's the word I can use.  But this leaves some major gaps in the screenplay that Raimi, at least, filled in with something.  Although I think some of the style and action here is loads better than Spider-Man 3... it never comes close to be being better than Raimi's Spider-Man or Spider-Man 2 and that's mostly because there seems to be some emotional incentive in more of them.
July 06, 2012
I did not mind it trying to be serious. Truth be told in the 70's-80's, Spider-man had its share of more gritty and realistic material even before Batman became gritty and dark. Bats had his own share of gritty stories courtesy of O'Neil, but for the most part, Bats was all about silly gadgets and the Batman Family back then. Spidey however, had done the death of the first major character in comics-Gwen Stacy and that defined the character from there on. It was only till the mid-late 80's did Bats go for the darker tone. Spidey had tonal shifts back then, but it worked for him. Spidey cracks jokes because that is how he deals with being scared.

You may be right that Nolan's Batman played an influence, but you know the tempo and upbeat mood the Avengers movie did bothered me. We are in full agreement though, I did not like how they did Aunt May and Uncle Ben here. They were just there for the sake of being there. This would have done well without the new origin and went for the history of Parker's parents, but no, they thought they could re-imagine it and it got worst. Nolan never touched Bats' origin, he kept it faithful to the material with some differences.

I hated the fact that Spidey loses his mask in the Raimi films and I hated it even more in this movie. It was silly, stupid and there was no point.

I saw Spidey 3 again, and all I can say is, it has its share of inconsistencies. When you judge it from the first two movies, then you will see that its script may be as messy as this one. I liked this one a tad better than Spidey 3, but really not by much. Spidey 2.1 is the reigning king of Spider-man movies right now, it captured the soul and the spirit of the character and defined the hero that is Peter. Spidey 3 messed that up so badly, which is why it stands as one of my most disliked comic book adaptations ever.

Glad you liked my review. Yours was just as good and very detailed. I could tell that you showed a lot of emotions in writing it. And that is very good.
July 06, 2012
The reason I mention how Nolan's movies seemed to have a clear influence is mostly The Dark Knight.  Before The Dark Knight released there were talks of making Spider Man 4.  Once The Dark Knight came out and made lots of money suddenly there was this idea of doing a "gritty reboot," that people were talking about.  And we're talking this happened real soon after The Dark Knight debuted and had everyone talking.  Suddenly Spider-Man 4 was no longer in the works (although I hear Raimi dropped out do to creative differences with the studio).  Could be a coincidence, though, haha.

But the reason I actually don't like some of the gritty nature of the movie in and of itself is because the movie just seems to fear embracing it.  It comes close and then backs down.  Just being gritty and dark doesn't make your movie good.  When I talk about how this movie tries too hard to be taken seriously I'm talking about how that grittiness is used, instead, as a means for people to say, "See?  We're mature!"  And actually... because it tries too hard it shows just how IMMATURE it actually is.  The Avengers by comparison... embraces it's cheesiness and campiness.  Sure that bothers some people, but at least it's not trying to be something it isn't.  In that regard, The Avengers takes it's audience more seriously by clearly laying out just what it's going to give you and is actually a more mature movie by comparison.  The Avengers says, "This is what I am.  Take it or leave it!"  The Amazing Spider-Man's previews and marketing were done in such a way that it's a movie TRYING to be taken seriously rather than a movie that actually IS serious.  It's a movie desperately saying "Please love me!"  The idea that just being dark and gritty makes a movie more "serious" is the reason why some people are still under the impression that comic books are still kids stuff (video games suffer the same stigma).  Being dark and gritty doesn't mean it's taking it's audience or itself seriously.  This whole thing comes off like a joke because of it.  I'm not saying it could not have worked by any means.  Oh God, no!  If that were the case I wouldn't have even opted to see this.  I was really hoping it would.  It just tried too hard, man.

I understand the comics had its fair share of grittiness and all.  But I'm not concerned about the comics... I'm concerned about the movie and how that translates to the big screen.  And my concern is that the movie in and of itself does it THAT badly that it comes across like a five year old child putting on his dad's tie and sticking his tiny feet in Daddy's giant dress shows to show he's a grown up.  When a movie does that (and there are a whole host of them that do) it sort of feels like I'm being insulted. 

I guess I just really wanted this one to be good.  I mean, seriously, how is there THIS little redemption after Spider-Man 3?  I agree with you, if the script had been a bit more coherent it would've been so much better.  July 20 can't get here fast enough!
July 08, 2012
Raimi was overwhelmed by the money men. I know he only wanted to do sandman but someone thought that Venom would do well to be added into the mix. Money men should never have a say in creativity, it just ruins it. I am glad Raimi abandoned Spidey 4 in a way.

Yeah, well, I don't blame you for disliking this film's gritty nature--because really, Marc Webb did not have the skill to pull it off. I like the idea of a grittier Spidey, but his joking, insulting nature to baddies has to take some precedence. Avengers worked (despite my displeasure with its tempo) because Whedon had the savvy to pull off that kind of humor and honestly, it wasn't meant to be gritty like in the comic books. But remember, I am telling you this once, the kind of tone and upbeat mood will not work for more Avengers sequels, because it limits itself. Comedy and upbeat tempo is a one trick phony. If they do Thanos, then it would be a far cliched story--(Thanos is not for kids, and they market that franchise to kids) since Thanos murdered half the universe for his love of death.

That said, this Spidey had a real messy script. I was appalled during that carnap scene. It was stupid and the joke was pointless. Like you, I wanted this to be good, and with the money it made, H-wood once again got the message that movie-goers are easy to satisy since it is making money.

I am a little worried about THE DARK KNIGHT RISES truth be told. But Nolan may be able to pull it off. Do you get the feeling that we are just getting too much of this damn comic adaptations that they are becoming tiresome? I know I should be happy but they are ruining my childhood memories LOL!
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Director: Marc Webb
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Release Date: July 3, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Studio: Columbia Pictures, Marvel Studios
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