The Amazing Spider-Man Review
Fact: I’ve seen every comic book movie.
Fact: Many of them have been very, very good.
Fact: I have not particularly cared for Spider-Man since I was a little kid running around in Spidey pajamas.
All of that being true (and it is – those are all facts), I can honestly say that The Amazing Spider-Man is the best comic book film ever made. Bold statement, I know, especially considering the high regard in which people hold movies like The Dark Knight and X2. I won’t argue that those aren’t great movies – they are. But Spider-Man gets everything right, and it does it without being a slave to the source material.
But before I get into the fanboy breakdown (which, incidentally, is also the name of my R&B boy band), let’s get the standard review stuff out of the way. Director Mark Webb, while being a relative newcomer to mainstream Hollywood, took a vision and ran with it. He wanted Spider-Man to live in the real world of today, and he made everything ring truer to life than the original Sam Raimi-directed trilogy did. He took Peter Parker from being a stereotypical geek to being a loner and an outcast. Picked on, but not abused. Peter doesn’t stand out as being weird or nerdy; rather, this new Peter Parker is simply a face in the crowd, which is a condition that speaks to teenagers a little more powerfully today.
The casting choices were spot-on. Everyone looked and felt true to both the comics and real life. Andrew Garfield was perfect as Spider-Man/Peter Parker. He played his Parker roles with just the right amount of comedy, sadness, and pent-up anger as you would imagine a real teenager in similar circumstances would act. The casting of Martin Sheen and Sally field as Uncle Ben and aunt May was BRILLIANT. Sheen is one of the best actors still working today, and I found myself hoping that the filmmakers would drastically deviate from the source material so we could see more of him.
As for Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, I thought she did a fine job, although she was arguably the weakest link in the cast. Something about her performance just didn’t ring true, although she was saved by having a very well-written part. Unlike the first trilogy, Peter’s love interest wasn’t simply a damsel in distress, seeing her fair share of action throughout the film.
Sadly, though, no J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson in this movie. He was definitely the highlight of the three previous films.
Alright. Time for the geek gloves to come off. How did this movie stand up against the source material? Amazingly. Like the films released by Marvel Studios, Amazing reinvented thus Marvel Universe while staying true to the comics. Peter still gets his powers the same way, things with his home life unfold the same way, and many other details you might expect from seeing the previous movies are the same. Changes abound, though, that connect the movie and film universes in previously unseen ways. Peter builds webshooters. He falls for Gwen Stacy, his first love. We see the beginnings of a friendship with Flash Thompson, one of Peter’s best friends in the comic universe. His parents are finally shown and explored. Little things, surely, but when it comes to pleasing comic book fans, it’s the little things that matter. I love that Peter is finally shown to be smart, not just nerdy. In the original films, Peter is shown answering questions and studying Oscorp, but he never actually DOES anything intelligent. The Peter of Amazing is a science machine, solving theorems and creating machinery that should be impossible for a high school kid, but not for the Peter Parker the comic books created.
Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that I love this movie. It’s smart, funny, suspenseful, and everything it tries to do, it does right. It definitely sets itself up for future films, and for that I’m very excited. As long as this franchise doesn’t step all over itself like the previous trilogy did, we could be in for an amazing ride over the next couple of films.