365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

25Jul/120

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Most critics and audiences will agree that the Andrew Garfield's (The Social Network, Never Let Me Go) reboot of Spider-Man occurred too soon after the completion of the Toby Maguire trilogy. Because it was a given that the reboot would generate hundreds of millions of dollars on name alone, many wondered how strong of an effort there would be to tell a great story. An uninteresting story and poor reviews from the critics that still resulted in $200 million would have been devastating to super hero movies. Heck, the Ryan Reynolds's disaster The Green Lantern earned a measly 27% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and still earned $116 million at the box office. Fortunately, while their were many, MANY parallels to the Tobey franchise, this movie was much darker. This was really my number one criteria going in. I just wanted it to be more adult-oriented. I know some thought it was too dark, saying things like Spider-Man isn't Batman, but as a guy in his mid 30's, I'd pretty much rather see any PG-13/R type superhero movie over a PG/PG-13 type one.

When I first heard that Andrew Garfield was the choice to play Spider-Man, I couldn't believe it. Sure he was awesome in The Social Network, but he was mostly a side character. This was also really the only movie he had to his name. Sure he had been in other movies, but you were probably more likely to say "Who's that guy" rather than "Oh, there's Andrew Garfield." With that said, I thought he did a tremendous job. Sure, it was kind of hard getting past the idea that a 28-year-old was playing a 17-year-old, but I digress. If you can forget that, you're going to enjoy Garfield's performance. Was it as good as Maguire's? Was it better? You ask 100 people and you might get a 50/50 split. I thought Maguire did a great job, but, like I said, I was looking for a darker version of the film and that's what I got. Props to Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) in just his second movie directed for making this more adult-oriented than the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy.

I'll do my best not to compare the movie to Maguire's original, but the story does have A LOT of similarities. It had so many parallels that I wanted to ask myself at times why I was watching this newer version. But each time I that thought came into my head, something great happened. Garfield was more of a nerd than Maguire so that aspect was cool. The back story was great. I believe it was close to an hour into the movie before Garfield even dawned the Spider-Man mask for the first time. This was perfect acceptable for me. We all know that this franchise is going to go into 3+ movies so why rush the story. Garfield's Peter Park is a classic nerd, but one that we root for. At lot of that has to do with two things. The first, and most obvious, is that we know this man will soon be Spider-Man. The second is that he's a good kid who tries to do the right thing. He sticks up for classmates. He tries to talk to girls only to get shot down by them. He's an aspiring photographer and pretty good at it.

Parker's love interest in this movie is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone - Crazy, Stupid, Love., The Help), the only other student in his high school senior class who might be as smart, even not smarter, than he is. The difference between the two is that while Parker is a gawky nerd, Gwen is a smokin' hot babe.  There is a mutual respect between the two that soon grow's into a romantic relationship. This aspect of the story is likely to garner the attention of moviegoers who might not see a superhero movie otherwise).

There is not much that needs to be said about the story. Parker gets bit by a spider and develops all the unique characteristics of said spider. He can climb walls. He has catlike reflexes. He can sense things before they are about to happen. While Garfield's Spider-Man character is darker than Maguire's, there are still moments in this movie that make you life. Garfield is just a more natural Spider-Man than Maguire ever was. Once Parker figures out how to use his new spider-like traits, he realizes he can help put bad guys away. In The Amazing Spider-Man, the biggest bad guy of them all is one-armed scientist Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans - Notting Hill, The Five-Year Engagement) who transforms into a giant, limb reproducing lizard while trying figure out a formula for animal to human gene transplantation. The fight sequences between Spider-Man and the Lizard over Manhattan are cool from a visual standpoint, but it's still the same old "good guy vs bad guy and good guy wins" story. The two are going at it, even while using fixtures in the city as mere props, is the worst part of the movie. We know what's going to happen so the longer it plays out, the more boring it is for us.

The chemistry between Garfield and Stone works well. She becomes his sole confidant and helps him as he struggles with his new identity. To make matters worse for Parker, Gwen's father (Dennis Leary - television's Rescue Me, Ice Age) is the chief of the New York City Police Department. His not too likable appraisal of Spider-Man's impact on fighting crime rubs Parker the wrong way when the family invites the teen over for dinner one night. If you've ever seen Leary's Tommy Gavin character on the television show Rescue Me, you'll find yourself laughing out loud during some of his conversations with Gwen in this movie. Some of the interactions are eerily reminiscent. In any case, Leary was a good choice for this character. Martin Sheen (television's The West Wing, Apocalypse Now)  and Sally Field (Forrest Gump, Norma Rae) also star in this movie as Parker's Uncle Ben and Aunt May. They, too, were excellent choices.

In the end, was this movie necessary? Probably not. But at the same time, it could have been made haphazardly and still earned over $200 million. It also could have easily got shuffled aside by perhaps the two biggest superhero movies ever (as of 2012) in The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers. The Amazing Spider-Man not only held its own, but sort of made The Avengers look like a little kid movie in a way. I liked The Avengers less after seeing The Amazing Spider-Man. I think the reason for this was because The Amazing Spider-Man played to an older crowd, really tried to tell a good story and develop multiple characters while The Avengers was just a showcase to bring together Iron-Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Thor, etc. together.

Plot 7.5/10
Character Development 9.5/10
Character Chemistry 9.5/10
Acting 9.5/10
Screenplay 8.5/10
Directing  8.5/10
Cinematography 10/10
Sound 9.5/10
Hook and Reel 10/10
Universal Relevance 7.5/10
90%

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