Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man
By Matthew Huntley
July 9, 2012
For the record, I would have preferred Spider-Man 4 over The Amazing Spider-Man. To me, and probably to a lot of fans, the original Spider-Man series (it seems strange to write this given the first film only came out ten years ago) didn’t feel complete. After the unpleasant taste Spider-Man 3 left behind, I was hoping the Sam Raimi-driven franchise would be given a chance to redeem itself.
Unless, of course, that’s where The Amazing Spider-Man comes in, as it does a good but not great job of re-injecting purpose and confidence back into the saga. Perhaps we’re meant to simply move on from the last series and hope this new Spidey can take the beloved hero in a different direction - by putting a new “spin” on things if you will (pun intended).
In terms of broad strokes, The Amazing Spider-Man pretty much adheres to the standard superhero movie template that its predecessors helped lay the groundwork for. In this day and age, when an average of three superhero movies come out every year, it’s nearly impossible not to know the drill: an awkward main character goes through a radical transformation that gives him superpowers; he decides to fight crime and attempts to maintain a secret identity; eventually, he does battle with an equally colorful villain. When it comes to this genre, we’ve been there, done that several times over.
But what sets The Amazing Spider-Man apart are the details in between those broad strokes, which feel less safe and comfortable than, say, Thor, Captain America or The Avengers. Don’t get me wrong; those movies are fun and entertaining, but The Amazing works at being darker, edgier and, in some ways, riskier. It’s never at a loss for ambition and director Marc Webb maintains a constant control over the story, which actually has a thicker plot than most superhero origin schemes. We recognize and appreciate this, even if Webb’s instincts aren’t always right.
Given how popular Spider-Man is in our culture and what we already know from the Raimi films, was it really necessary to retread his origin? The ultimate answer is no, and it would have been bold for the movie to simply brush over this aspect of Spidey’s life so it could get to the real meat of the story faster. The filmmakers could have assumed, for instance, we already know how the socially inept Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), a high school senior from Queens, who’s also a photographer and science geek, obtained his superpowers. But it feels the need to tell us again, albeit in different fashion.
This time around, Peter’s story begins when he finds his deceased father’s old briefcase in the basement of his surrogate parents, his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). He discovers a confidential folder that sparks his curiosity about the work his dad conducted alongside Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) at Oscorp. Connors lacks a right arm and has been working tirelessly to splice together different species’ DNA as a means to combat disease and even regrow body tissue.