Now Playing: ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ Swings Back into Action

When it was first announced that ‘(500) Days of Summer’ director Marc Webb was at the helm for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, I couldn’t have been more excited. The brief teaser trailer fueled that excitement… until I saw the first full trailer. I couldn’t have been more worried. The footage shown was nearly identical to that of Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ movies. It looked like nothing new was being brought to the plate. I watched one clip of Peter Parker being held-up by a doorman (a clip that didn’t even make the 136-minute final cut) that looked exactly like the Bruce Campbell scene from ‘Spider-Man 2’. So, I decided to stop watching clips and trailers. Little did I know that this was all part of a master plan that is now clear to me, a plan so smart that I should have given Webb the benefit of the doubt. The last thing I expected was for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ to blow me away – which it did – or to become my favorite incarnation of the web-slinging superhero yet.

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ sets up a new reality for the characters in Peter Parker’s world, one very different from that of the Raimi version. Yes, the movie over-writes the pre-existing films, but in an alternate universe sort of way that pays a lot of homage to Raimi’s work. Mild Spoiler: For example, when Peter lets the robber run past him, the robber who eventually guns down Uncle Ben, instead of the recycled cynical phrase, “It’s not my problem,” he uses a relevant-to-this-version line, “It’s not my policy.” End spoiler. Even though the clip that resembles Bruce Campbell’s cameo scene in ‘Spider-Man 2’ isn’t in the final cut, that scene is there to pay homage. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is riddled with easter eggs that pay tribute to everything Raimi did well. Fortunately, the things that Raimi didn’t do so well aren’t brought back for this version.

So, what does Webb do right? He has infused the Spider-Man storyline with huge swells of emotion. I don’t remember this happening in any of the three previous movies, but ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ stirs up genuine emotions. There are at least two scenes that caused me to start breathing heavily and even made my eyes well up. Both Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone do fantastic jobs here. For the first time, I really felt for Peter Parker. I intimately understood the crappy side to having super powers. I understood exactly why Peter will never be close to anyone. Those themes are brought up in the old movies, but weren’t so strongly portrayed. I know that a lot of fans dislike the way the story here deals with the deaths of Peter’s parents, but it isn’t a huge part of the film and it sure makes for a beautiful tone-setting intro that paves the way for a lot of heartfelt scenes.

Yes, Webb has recycled some of the visual style of Raimi’s films, but he doesn’t rely on it. In fact, he makes the movie his own. My favorite of the new techniques is the first-person swinging perspective. For the first time, we see what it’s like to soar across the city from inside the mask. My only complaint is that this isn’t used enough. Helping make the effects even more powerful is a great use of aspect ratio and 3D. Just as I did with ‘Prometheus’, I highly recommend seeing ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ in IMAX 3D. The grand scope shots that I loved from the trailer made me giggle with excitement as I watched them on them expanded on the IMAX screen. It was as if I had never seen those shots before, one of which made my stomach hit the floor.

I cannot praise ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ enough. It’s not afraid to take its time setting up characters and stories. Even though Spidey doesn’t make his grand appearance for quite some time into the film, I never once thought of shouting, “Where’s Spider-Man?!” I was completely content. I enjoyed the fun times that Sam Raimi gave us, but this rendition of Spider-Man definitely functions more on a filmic level that speaks to me.

This movie took me completely by surprise. I honestly look forward to reading what everyone else thinks. If you catch ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ this week, please leave comments with your opinions.

Rating: ★★★★½


  1. Drew

    I agree with a lot of what you say in this review. My only nitpicks had to do with some of the final rendering of the CG of The Lizard, the ‘The Princess Bride’ – esque “R.O.U.S.” lab rat that broke out of it’s cage (it was downright laughable), and Horner’s completely inappropriate use of opera scoring during some of the intense fight, and/or swinging scenes.

    Were in a post-‘Avatar’, cinematic world. We’ve seen what is possible with CGI and visual effects. Too many films have perfected CG, and used it flawlessly. You simply can’t leave the rendering unfinished or subpar the way The Lizard — not to mention the rat — was at certain points.

    I also didn’t need the Titanic to come sailing into the New York skyline during some of the swinging scenes, or for the operatic theme to the love shared by Jack and Rose playing during some of the intense fight scenes.

    With that said, I want to be clear about the fact that I really liked the film overall. I loved the character drama. I feel like if Marc Webb would have directed the character based scenes, and dramatic aspects of the film, while hiring a more seasoned pro to handle the action sequences, and making sure that the visual effects were flawless, this would have been the perfect ‘Spider-Man’ film.

  2. KaneRobot

    Very minor spoilers.

    The first 1/3rd of the movie was pathetic and nowhere near as well-executed as the 2002 film as far as the origin stuff. Peter Parker as a skateboarding “outcast” who stands up to bullies and has no problem getting pretty girls interested in him was AWFUL. The only decent parts of the pre-Spider-Man stuff was Flash softening on him after his uncle died, and Sheen’s portrayal of Uncle Ben. The 2002 film handled all of the origin stuff far better.

    That said, after almost walking out they managed to rope me back in and the remainder of the film was solid. Not as good as 1 or 2 but a worthwhile Spider-Man film. Probably the best action sequences of any of the films.

    Still should have been a recast sequel rather than a reboot (which would have eliminated my issues with the origin stuff being crappy), but it’s worth seeing. 4.5 stars out of 5 is way too high though. It’s probably a 3, 3 and a half.

  3. Drew


    I do agree with you that there’s no way this film earned 4.5 stars. It’s a 3.5 star film, or 4 at the very most, you’re really reaching and forgiving many of it’s sins.

  4. Drew

    I also agree that this definitely should have been a recast sequel, rather than a reboot. This cast actually would have been awesome in a sequel.

  5. Shannon Nutt

    Haven’t seen it yet, but Spider-man 2 was full of emotion, Luke. I didn’t care much for the other two, though.

    • It would take a foolish man to knock Spider-Man 2. That’s not at all how I meant my comments to sound. I simply found the emotion here to be different. While I see it as stronger, I imagine that if anyone else disagrees, it’s because of the differing ways that we perceive emotion. There are three specific instances here where I recall the mood hitting me like a wave. I’ll be vague to avoid spoilers. The bridge-car scene, the hand on Uncle Ben’s chest and when Gwen was cleaning wounds. Even everything with the parents was heavy for me. Dammit. Thinking about it now makes me want to go catch a late show tonight.

      • Shannon Nutt

        Saw it yesterday and I agree, Luke. While I can’t say it’s better than Spider-man 2, I will say it’s on the same level in quality. The only parts I found myself less than trilled with were the fights with The Lizard…it’s the human drama that’s really compelling here. And I agree that the death of Ben here was handled much better than in the original Spider-man.

  6. I saw it yesterday evening and thoroughly enjoyed it as well! Even though I still have a soft spot for Spider-Man (less for 2, strangely, and no soft spots for 3), this one is one definite excellent flick.
    Numerous highlights: the excellent 3D (the first time I had no headache and noticed some shots; my favourite was the “crane” at the very end), Denis Leary (always a crappy actor in my opinion, just great here), Sally Field in her best caring mom-mode (I half expected here to shout “Life is like a web of questions, Peter”), Martin Sheen NOT phoning it in (but what was up with his front teeth? Bad dentist job?), Andrew Garfield’s masterful portrayal (he’s older than Tobey Maguire was, yet looks the part a lot better) etc.

    Great movie!

    • Martin Sheen has some pretty ill-fitting dentures these days. I found his teeth incredibly distracting in that interview he did with Coppola in the Apocalypse Now Blu-ray bonus features.

      • Shannon Nutt

        Yep, Martin’s actually been wearing dentures for a long time (most if not all of his West Wing tenure). I think maybe they’re just more noticable these days (new set?!).