The Amazing Spider-man review

Marc Webb
Andrew Garfield
Emma Stone
Rhys Ifans
Dennis Leary
Martin Sheen
Sally Field
Rated: Rated: PG-13

A retelling, reboot, remake, recycled, it’s every “re” you can think of.

The film follows Peter Parker’s origin story beginning when he was a young boy, when his parents suddenly had to go away and leave him with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. The story then picks up to where Peter is a teenager in high school, having to deal with the average everyday problems. That is until he sneaks into a science lab to uncover answers about his parents who used to work there and is bitten by a genetically enhanced spider.

After this he begins getting new powers like heightened speed and strength as well as the ability to walk on walls. Meanwhile, one of the scientists at the facility, Dr. Connors (Ifans), who worked with Peter’s father, is working on a way to replace his lost arm by DNA splicing with that of a lizard. At the same time, Peter’s uncle is shot and killed by a robber; this sets Peter off on a quest of revenge, getting a costume and everything to go after the criminal. The two plots of Dr. Connors and Peter who has become Spiderman eventually meet as the two become the most powerful things in New York City.

The movie tells a lot of the story that we’ve seen mostly seen before, but the execution wasn’t all there. The film shows Peter becoming Spiderman in a very off way, specifically in regard to how he becomes a hero. Instead of being inspired to be a hero by uncle Ben’s passing, he instead becomes a teen filled with vengeance. It’s not until much later, when he saves a young boy that he actually realizes what he should be doing.

The problem with that is felt like uncle Ben’s dying, and the line of ‘with power comes responsibility’ never really got to Peter, when it’s a very important detail of him becoming the hero we all know. Despite this, the first two acts are the better parts of the film, with him learning how to use his powers.

It’s the third act that I have problems with, when we find out Connor’s plot. It simply feels unoriginal and his motives are uninspired. This leads to a rather lacking climax and we still don’t discover much about Peter’s parents, which was supposed to be the major selling point of the film with all the ads saying “the untold story!” Give me a break.

It seemed like they were trying to do too much with Peter in this movie, he was a genius-skateboarder-nerd-photographer. Yet with all of this I never got the feeling of who he really was besides being kind of a jackass. I realize he’s supposed to be witty when he’s fighting criminals, but it seems like he was like that to everyone around him. However, I still think Andrew Garfield did an alright job with what he was given, and he has some good moments, yet the way Spiderman was written here I felt like the character was unlikeable.

At first I was curious how Gwen Stacy would be portrayed since she would be in the film instead of Mary Jane Watson. However I felt she was far underutilized and basically just a switch of Peter’s girlfriends from a red head to a blonde. They have Gwen be a scientist, however after she finds out Peter is Spiderman there is never a scene where she helps him improve his web shooters or help him find weak points in the lizard, she just plays the role of Peter’s girlfriend. I also couldn’t differentiate the character from the actress, I saw Emma Stone the entire time. I like Emma Stone a lot, I thought she was great in “Crazy Stupid Love,” but here I just feel she doesn’t give the role any life.

The romance between the two felt forced as well. It was like they get together, they kiss and everything, but there’s never really that noticeable spark where she falls for him, and I didn’t feel there was that much chemistry going on.

The absolute weakest part of the film has got to be the villain Dr. Connors, The Lizard. Rhys Ifans plays the character nearly emotionless and makes for a very bland foe for Spidey to battle. I can remember each of the villains from Raimi’s Spiderman films having very memorable things to them. For example, despite the funny costume, Will Dafoe gave a very charismatic performance in “Spiderman” and breathed a lot of life into the psychopathic Green Goblin.

Alfred Molina played a Doc Ock in “Spiderman 2” with a great connection between him and Peter, both having an understanding of science, it lead to that great bit of dialogue towards the end of the film how “science is a privilege and is supposed to be used for the good of mankind.” Even “Spiderman 3” had the Sandman villain, who also had an emotional connection to Peter’s past, and that connection was actually explored, unlike here.

In “Amazing,” there is none of that. I never felt like it was a great here-villain contrast going on, Dr. Connors was just bland and his connection with Peter is never delved into, adding to a lack of emotion toward that relationship between the two. Plus, the Lizard doesn’t even look that good; whenever he talked I felt the CGI was very noticeable and at times laughable.

The biggest blinking bright spot in the entire movie was Dennis Leary. He plays the role very well and to me was the only character that I was able to relate to. He adds personality and life to the film in every scene that he was in which was really needed.

One part of the film that I have got to address is the webshooters added. My question is, why add them at all? I understand that the organic ones brought criticisms since the webshooters was what Spidey originally had. Yet the webshooters in this movie work the exact same way as the organic ones from the Raimi films! They never go empty and work practically the same way, so why have them at all? Plus, Peter doesn’t even make the webbing material; he just buys it, from Oscorp no less! If he were to buy anything it should have been the other way around and buy a sort of shooter for the web he developed on his own.

I had a major problem with the fight scenes too; they didn’t do anything really new or innovative with them. There was only one really cool moment when Spiderman starts wrapping the Lizard completely in webs to slow him down but that’s about it.

Going back to Raimi’s films again, there were a lot of great fight moments where Spiderman effectively used his powers to fight, for example in “Spiderman,” our hero kicks the Green Goblin, then uses his web to pull him back for another kick, he follows that up by shooting a web at a brick wall and pulling it down on the Goblin.

In “Spiderman 2” there is this great moment where Doc Ock throws a giant clock hand at Spidey, and Spiderman just latches a web to it and hurls it back at the villain like a missile. There wasn’t really much of that here, no memorable moments that wowed me.

For the most part the latest Spiderman adventure is a disappointment. Some parts are clever and I did really enjoy Dennis Leary’s acting. However the rest of the film, from the characters to the plot to the action was very uninspired. “The Amazing Spiderman” gets a not so amazing 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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