The Amazing Spider-Man certainly had opportunities to be a great movie and although I still enjoyed the film, sometimes even immensely, there are times the script could’ve been tweaked. Even so, the casting was pretty good starting with Andrew Garfield who will hopefully find more bearings with the sequel(s) while Emma Stone was a delight.
Genre(s): Action, Science Fiction
Sony | PG13 – 136 min. – $30.99 | November 9, 2012
Directed by: Marc Webb
Writer(s): Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (characters); James Vanderbilt (story), James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves (screenplay)
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field
Theatrical Release Date: July 3, 2012
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
Thanks to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 and a poor reception from a fair number of the fan base (critics interestingly enough gave it a respectable 63% on “Rotten Tomatoes”), Sony scrapped any plans for a third sequel and decided to take the Batman Begins route and reboot the franchise. Directed by Marc Webb, The Amazing Spider-Man attempts to do a reset with mixed, though mostly positive, results.
The movie begins with a young Peter Parker playing a game of hide-and-seek with his father, Richard (CAMPBELL SCOTT), when he comes upon his father’s office which has been ransacked. When his father sees this, he and Peter’s mother (EMBETH DAVIDTZ) pack up and the pair drop Peter off at his Aunt May and Uncle Ben’s (SALLY FIELD, MARTIN SHEEN) home and take off in the middle of the night, never to be seen again.
Fast forward a number of years and Peter (ANDREW GARFIELD) is now a teenager dealing with the angst associated with being that age. In high school he’s apparently a science whiz/master photographer and has a crush on the beautiful Gwen Stacey (EMMA STONE) and is also the target of school bully Flash Thompson, who, when Peter refuses to take a picture of Flash humiliating another student, lays the smack-down on him. The good news is this catches the attention of Gwen…
After the basement is flooded, Peter discovers his father’s old satchel which, at first glance, contained nothing of value, until he finds a secret compartment with some important science gobbly-gook and also learns that his pops worked with a Dr. Curt Connors (RHYS IFANS), a one-armed genetic scientist working at Oscorp, a pharmaceutical company. So Parker does a bit of reconnaissance work taking an intern slot and, after getting busted by Gwen who is Connors’ assistant and posting questions to Dr. Connors, gains entry to a secure area where a bunch of spiders are being bred in a glitzy, blue-lit, room where upon he gets bitten by one of them. You can guess what happens next: Peter starts acting like a drug-induced teen and strange things start happening.
As with the comic book origin (I think) and with the Sam Raimi Spider-Man film, Peter’s calling in life with his new-found powers come in to focus. After slacking off – including forgetting to pick up his Aunt – Peter and his uncle get into a nasty fight causing Peter to storm off with Ben chasing after. While at a convenience store, Peter witnesses robber take cash out of the till and because the cashier was a jerk to him before, he allows the crook to go free. Any clue what happens next? Yep, old Uncle Ben gets gunned down after attempting to stop the robber. Thankfully we don’t get drippy final words to Peter like in Raimi’s version… Peter makes it his mission to find the criminal eventually donning the Spider-Man outfit and persona which catches the attention of NYC Captain Stacy (DENIS LEARY) who is, of course, Peter’s main squeeze’s father. Cue awkward dinner scene.
In the meantime, Dr. Connors research isn’t going so well and the funding is being pulled by Oscorp, so in desperation he utilizes the formula given to him by Peter earlier in the film, where he grows a new arm but encounters a side effect resulting in a creature that will be known as The Lizard. He eventually goes nuts and like any good supervillain, he wants to terrorize the city by turning everyone else into lizards via an air-born toxin. Personally, this makes Lex Luthor’s hare-brained real estate schemes seem more mischievous.
So what’s to make of this franchise reboot? Well, for one thing, I actually found it quite entertaining. On the other hand, the script had issues especially concerning a lackluster, anti-climatic finale. Even so, Andrew Garfield was a good choice to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man and, speaking as somebody who has only read ONE “Spider-Man” comic book, gives the character a different attitude versus Maguire/Rami’s interpretation. I know some complained Garfield was a bit too, um, Twilight-y but to me it’s just normal teen angst seen in numerous other movies and television shows (alright -1 for creativity).
As for the supporting cast, Rhys Ifans does the best with what he’s given, and that is a CGI villain but he does give it a certain sadness and regret which is nice to see; Martin Sheen and Sally Field, much like what Michael Caine did for Nolan’s Batman movies, gives an emotional depth for Peter; Denis Leary in his limited role as Captain Stacy was a hoot and provided for both comedy and drama (such as the awkward dinner scene); and of course Emma Stone filling the role of Peter’s first love, Gwen, is amazing and shares some great chemistry with Garfield (so much apparently the couple began dating). All around, the filmmakers put together an incredible cast.
I don’t normally mention the score, but for a brief moment I will. First, I liked what Danny Elfman did with the Raimi Spider-Man movies but outside of the main title, it’s not especially notable. Taking over in the scoring department, is another veteran composer, Oscar winner James Horner (Titanic). While his theme isn’t particularly impressive, the rest of it is actually pretty good, nothing I would buy or anything, but decent nevertheless.
Adequately directed by Marc Webb, especially considering it’s his first big budget movie, I think The Amazing Spider-Man had opportunities to be, well, amazing. The acting isn’t bad, the plot itself might’ve been weak but Rhys Ifans made his Lizard villain with some depth and Andrew Garfield seems suitable in the title role, maybe even better than Tobey Maguire’s initial outing (of course, it helps not to have a lazy voice over). Despite my concerns with a ho-hum final act, I still recommend the film as the filmmakers have provided the franchise a foundation for possibly better sequels.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
Feature Commentary – Director Marc Webb and Producers Avi Arad & Matt Tolmach sit down for an informative, though low key, chat on how the movie came about, breaking down certain scenes or shots and working with the various actors.
Deleted Scenes (17:00) – There are 12 scenes removed from the final cut and while there’s no commentary, it was probably due to pacing more than anything else, though I felt the alternate Uncle Ben shooting in the final cut was better.
The set also has The Oscorp Archives – Promotional Gallery with some pictures for Spider-Man (suit, logo, ec), The Lizard and more plus some Stunt Rehearsals (11:52) footage which are interesting to watch and an UltraViolet Digital Copy download code.
Previews – Men in Black 3, Total Recall
VIDEO – 3.25/5
The Amazing Spider-Man is presented in its original 2.40 anamorphic widescreen and it mostly looks fine, though there’s a fair amount of pixilation and the color scheme, while OK, can be a bit muted. For a standard-def transfer, it should be adequate, however.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track definitely gets the job done and does it well especially during the action scenes. The quieter, more dialogue-driven moments, also sound good as well. Again, for a lossy track, it’s suitable.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man certainly had opportunities to be a great movie and although I still enjoyed the film, sometimes even immensely, there are times the script could’ve been tweaked. Even so, the casting was pretty good starting with Andrew Garfield who will hopefully find more bearings with the sequel(s) while Emma Stone was a delight. I know some didn’t like the movie, and no doubt it doesn’t compare with other superhero movies (like the Nolan Batman movies or The Avengers) but for me, it managed to entertain for the 130-minute duration.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman