It’s crazy how time flies. It’s cliché but it feels like just yesterday news of a Spider-Man reboot was on the way and the nerdverse went crazy. Then came the trailer and pictures which sent the nerdverse into a tizzy. Finally it was released in 2012 to a resounding… eh. Well at least that’s the reaction from the critics. I remember the comic fan base losing their mind over it, me included. I had all the same complaints as every other nerd. But that was then. Due to the Mrs. having never seen it I was able to go back and watch The Amazing Spider-Man in full for the first time since it came out. So before I see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 lets take a look back at director Marc Webb’s first time shot at the character.
As I look back I did and didn’t overreact to the changes in plot. On the one hand I remember really not liking how the death of Uncle Ben was handled when really it wasn’t THAT different from what it was. The same thing happened just in a more direct way. Another point of contention was the lack of Peter Parker: Wrestler when that was a bit minor in reality. On the other hand the complaint that nothing new is covered is legitimate. While done a bit differently it wasn’t done any better than in Raimi’s first movie. If anything it was done a bit worse due to their version of Peter (which I’ll cover next). The only thing that was added was the mystery behind Peter’s parents and that was dropped after the first 5 minutes. I assume it’ll be resolved in the next movie but honestly I didn’t really care in the first place. Still despite these complaints I can’t say I outright hated the plot. It wasn’t good but it wasn’t the anger inducing mess I remember it being.
And the negativity continues with a look at Peter Parker. Lets get this out of the way now, this isn’t Peter Parker. Like at all. Between his Jean-Ralphio hair and 2 cool 4 skool skateboarding he just doesn’t work. Why should I be happy he gained powers and became a superhero and he already seemed to be doing alright? I don’t need him to be the nerd blackface that Saved By The Bell had but at least a passing interest in science beyond an Einstein poster would be nice. Throughout the movie he has this over confidence not only before he was bitten but it just got worse after he became Spider-Man.
Now that isn’t to say this portrayal of Spider-Man was bad. The confidence that Peter has works well as Spider-man because that’s what makes the character interesting. The joke cracking, acrobat Spider-man as opposed to mild-mannered Peter Parker. Also when it comes to looking like Spider-Man (not Peter) Andrew Garfield pulls this off quite well. He looks thin and muscular as opposed to just another dude like Tobey McGuire did. Last and probably least, I dug the new costume. You can make all the jokes about it looking like a basketball you want but it looked great on the screen. Unfortunately we are stuck with Peter more than we are with Spider-Man and he was just a dick.
The biggest thing I overlooked upon first viewing was the supporting cast. Seeing them with fresh eyes I realized how great they were. Emma Stone in particular shines in her scenes with Andrew Garfield. Maybe it’s Marc Webb’s indie roots or their real life relationship but their chemistry is great throughout. Another surprise was Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben. While he isn’t in the movie the whole time he practically radiates paternal kindness every scene he is in. The only complaint I have is the complete lack of Aunt May. I swear she has less screen time than Flash Thompson. But when even the “New York Loves Spidey” stuff happens it felt less schmaltzy and lame than anything in the Raimi movies. That alone makes them the best supporting cast yet.
The Lizard wasn’t a great villain. As Dr. Curt Connors they try to push him as a faux-father figure and failed miserably at that. Looking like a blonde Stephen Colbert didn’t help. As The Lizard though, he was a fun villain. The giant monster gimmick really works well against an acrobatic hero like Spider-man. It’s classic speed vs strength type stuff. He also had a delightfully insane villain plan. He doesn’t want to just take over New York City. No he wants to take over New York City and turn everyone into human/lizard hybrids via a gas that can affect everyone in the city. That is just brilliantly idiotic. While he wasn’t the perfect arch-enemy villain ala The Joker or Green Goblin I do think he made for a fun introductory villain.
Remember in my guilty pleasures review when I said Spider-Man 3 had action scenes that rivaled this movie? Yeah… I was wrong. Like way off. Maybe it was the advance in technology but this is where the movie shines. A mix of CGI and practical effects they absolutely nailed the kind of action a Spider-Man movie should have. To me the best example happens at Peter’s school. The fast paced action was not only fast and kinetic but they didn’t forget to use the webbing as offense. I know this sounds a bit silly but it really helped showcase Spider-Man’s powers in a cool way. Heck even the webslinging around New York looked cool. Every now and then they’d use a first person shot which sounds gimmicky but actually worked really well. I can’t say enough how great this was and I hope this is expanded on in the next movie.
As I look back on The Amazing Spider-Man I can’t help but be pleasantly surprised. Don’t get me wrong it has some serious flaws and was unnecessary considering the Raimi movies were less than a decade old. But despite these flaws the good outweighed the bad. With strong acting and even stronger action The Amazing Spider-Man is much better than it had any right to be.