This summer has three huge superhero movies: The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises. I loved The Avengers, and am eagerly anticipating The Dark Knight Rises, but I was really skeptical about The Amazing Spider-Man. I am a huge fan of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (yes, even Spider-Man 3), and I thought it was too soon to reboot. But star Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi felt that they had reached a creative dead end, so the reboot was handed over to Marc Webb.
First things first: The Amazing Spider-Man is in no way a reboot. The marketing has shouted tag-lines like "The Untold Story", but it is not. It is a remake of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man with a different villain, a different love interest, and some back-story about his parents. The story is the same. They tinker little things that really don't matter at all and it really is a do-over.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a teenager in high school who lives with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben (Sally Field and Martin Sheen). His parents died in a plane crash when he was a young boy and he knows nothing about them. When he finds a briefcase containing a picture of his father and another scientist named Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who works at Oscorp. Peter goes to Oscorp, where he is bitten by a radioactive spider, gets superpowers and becomes Spider-Man. Peter falls in love and begins a relationship with his crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). He helps Doctor Connors in creating a serum to help him in his end goal: to grow his arm back. And he fights Connors when he becomes the Lizard.
The first hour of the film is fantastic. It was amazing and totally believable. I honestly think that the origin story of how Peter becomes Spider-Man was told better in this film than the original. Andrew Garfield is fantastic as Peter. It really seems that Garfield is Peter at times and he totally nails the performance. Him and Emma Stone have this weird, awkward chemistry together and I thought it was better than Maguire and Kristen Dunst. Rhys Ifans is an iffy choice for Curt Connors/the Lizard. He did a good job, but I don't think he fits the character as well as Garfield and Stone do. My verdict on Aunt May and Uncle Ben: Sheen was decent and Field did not fit at all. I thought that Denis Leary was good as Captain Stacy but I really missed JK Simmons as Jonah Jameson. The second half is still pretty good but the action never feels very epic and I didn't think the action was nearly as well done as the original trilogy. There are some quirks that don't make a lot of sense but nothing too big.
Director Marc Webb is best known for his romantic comedy, (500) Days of Summer starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. That is shown relentlessly in this film. Most of the time it works for the film, but there are some moments where it feels excessive. I think that it is much better done than the original trilogy, but is over the top.
Did we really need this remake? No. But it is a whole lot better than I thought it was going to be, yes. The 3D is completely non-existent in the first half of the film but comes into full effect and is put to good use in the second half. I was impressed in the second half. I also liked Marc Webb's POV shots that work really well. I think that the best part about The Amazing Spider-Man is that it's not the whole story. There are still places to go, things to be developed and a way to make the story better. Sony has already stated that this film is the first of a trilogy and I am definitely intrigued to see where it's going.
THE FINAL GRADE: B (7.3/10)