I’ve seen this movie one time, back when it came out in theaters. Even then, I hated this movie. But that could have been because I had grown up with the Sam Raimi movies and just wanted more of that. So this time, I’m gonna shove away the Raimi and actually look at this movie for its own thing.
And as its own thing… well, this is an interesting movie. Not terrible. But also not amazing.
You know the drill. Peter Parker gets bit by a radioactive spider, Uncle Ben gets capped, Peter becomes Spider-Man. All the while, Doctor Curt Connors works on a formula to regrow his lost arm. But in doing so, he ends up transforming himself into the Lizard. Now, it’s up to Peter to stop this rampaging scientist before his mistake can destroy New York. And maybe he’ll even get the girl along the way.
Before I rip this movie a new one, let’s talk about the things I actually liked about it. Because believe it or not, this actually isn’t a terrible movie. In fact, there’s quite a bit about it that I like! Although a good many of my praises have caveats attached to them.
For one, I like that this version of Peter isn’t a purely good person. He’s a kid beaten down by bullying who would become a bully if he had the chance. Initially, he becomes Spider-Man out of revenge, not guilt or heroism. It isn’t until he’s confronted by his issues and mistakes that he starts to grow. Then he has to learn how to be a hero and actually become Spider-Man. It’s an interesting arc that I feel this movie actually does fairly well!
Secondly, I actually really like Andrew Garfield. He’s a legitimately talented actor and he has a great love for the character of Peter Parker, from what I’ve seen from interviews. I don’t think he does great at capturing the wallflower aspect of the character; he’s a bit too cool and good-looking for that. But as the confident and witty Spider-Man, he does a decent job! He even makes up for the lack of facial expression from the mask by overacting using his arms, which gives his version of Spidey some personality!
Gwen Stacy is also used pretty well in this film. She takes an active role in the story and has a cool and commanding attitude that makes her pretty engaging to watch. Even if half of her scenes with Peter feel like romantic adlib, which can get really annoying.
Also, Captain Stacy is awesome. The dude rips Peter a new one in almost every scene he’s in and it’s hilarious.
In fact, a lot of the side characters are pretty decent in this movie. Flash has an added layer of depth that makes him more sympathetic and interesting. Uncle Ben is a solid realistic take on a firm but caring uncle (even if his death doesn’t make sense; why would he go for the gun when no one was in danger?) and his relationship with Peter is pretty well fleshed out.
Shifting gears a bit, the visuals of this movie have aged pretty well. The special effects are still really strong and convincing and the set design is actually really cool looking! This is a decent-looking movie! I especially love the shot of Dr. Connors and his arm reflection; the creative cinematography there makes for a striking visual.
Even if the editing can often make you feel like you’re having a stroke. Which seems like a decent point to start bullying the movie.
The first major flaw with this movie happens right in the opening scene with the introduction of Peter Parker’s parents. Which are three words I never wanted to put together. Because Peter’s parents don’t matter! Uncle Ben and Aunt May are his parents! Why should I care about these other two characters who only have one scene with Peter and only say one line to him?!
The second sin comes with that stupid chalkboard in his dad’s office. It’s pretty obvious, even before the big reveal, but it was Peter’s dad who created the spiders that gave Peter his powers. Essentially, it was Peter’s destiny to become Spider-Man. Which is something you should never do with a Spider-Man story. The reason this character is so beloved and iconic is that anyone could have become Spider-Man. Peter was only there at the right place and the right time. Anyone else could have gotten those powers and become a hero; it’s all about your actions, not your so-called ‘destiny’. Tying Peter’s parents (I hate saying that so much) into his later becoming Spider-Man defeats the point of the character!
The Lizard doesn’t have it much better. His motivations are laughably bad. He accidentally turns himself into a lizard and… wants to do the same to New York? What? Why? Why not just have Dr. Connors be a nice guy who did a lot to help Peter, then have him turn into a mindless monster and Peter has to find a way to stop him and save him from the cops? Also, why does he look like a Goomba from that old Mario movie!
Music is also a huge issue. The soundtrack sounds fine, don’t get me wrong. But few of the tracks actually fit. Like the scene where Peter first creates the Spider-Suit. At this point, he’s being driven by revenge and only created it to hide his face. So… why does the music sound so upbeat and heroic?
Topping it all off is the script. Between bad dialogue and some planetary leaps of logic, this movie can be a real headache. Like how the Lizard discovers Spider-Man’s identity because Peter put his name on his camera. Or how some conversations change topics as quickly as an indecisive teenager shuffles through music. The movie can be, to put it bluntly, remarkably stupid.
Overall, Amazing Spider-Man isn’t a bad movie. It has its issues… like, a lot of issues. From its villain to its script to its editing, the movie can be a mess. The kind of mess that makes your brain tissue ache.
But it does have some pretty strong redeeming qualities, too! Peter’s arc to become a true hero is actually fairly well done. The special effects have aged remarkably well (even if the character designs of Spider-Man and the Lizard are pretty bad IMO). It has some strong side characters. For all its flaws, it’s still a fairly engaging and enjoyable film!
So, no. Amazing Spider-Man isn’t amazing. But it is a better one then it’s often given credit for. Is it as campy and fun as the original Raimi trilogy? No. As its own thing, however, it is a decent flick. If you haven’t seen it in a while and didn’t originally like it, I’d recommend giving it another chance. It ain’t perfect, but you might just enjoy it.
Question is: will I be able to say the same thing about the sequel?