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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » The Amazing Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG-13 // July 3, 2012
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted July 3, 2012 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
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Highly Recommended
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The Amazing Spider-Man Theatrical Review


Is The Amazing Spider-Man a reboot of a franchise or a remake of a still recent and much loved film series? That seems to be the main question existing on everyone's minds. Either way, tons of people consider the fact this movie was even made to be entirely pointless. Why should anyone even mess with something that was already done so well?  For the executives at Sony, making another Spider-Man movie makes perfect sense business-wise: the studio wanted to continue rolling in the dough as much as possible. For the filmmakers, however, it seems as though they merely wanted their own turn at making a Spider-Man film and here they have accomplished that task with more skill than I ever anticipated as possible.

The answer to the reboot/remake question (as far as I can see it) is that Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) has brought viewers his own take on Spider-Man. Webb brings his own personality to the table even while crafting a film which wants to respect the Sam Raimi directed efforts that preceded this production. The Amazing Spider-Man is surprisingly capable of creating its own footprints in the sands of time.

The film has story elements that anyone who has seen the original film series will be entirely familiar with. I'm not willing to disagree about the suggestion that this is a movie that follows some similar patterns to the previous Spider-Man, because this film absolutely does follow some of the same storyline aspects, and this is something that seems unsurprising given the "reboot" nature of the project. Considering the fact that many of these elements are inherent to the comics, it even makes it seem harsh to simply write it off as a total remake. Marc Webb crafts his own web with this project and has enough vision to make these proceedings seem new and interesting despite familiar territory.  Sure, some of the action scenes are a bit too choppy and  the CGI (as impressive as it is) was sometimes a distraction, but the direction worked where it matters most: in making us care about these characters first.  Witht the screenplay and with the direction, I had the feeling that I was on a journey in storytelling that is so often forgoten in summer movies.

On a note of personal interest: The Amazing Spider-Man contains both lighthearted moments and comedic elements mixed in with all the extended seriousness that was expected from fans. Viewers and critics who are suggesting that the entire movie is a drab dark experience and that it doesn't grab onto the original aspect of more joyous Spider-Man territory have been a bit misleading in their claims about the films overall stylistic approach to storytelling. In life you sometimes have to remember to highlight both the darkness and the lightness in our world experiences, and in our personal experiences too. The Amazing Spider-Man handles that concept well. There is never total bleakness or total happiness 24/7 and around the clock. We have moments of pure drama and lighthearted humor in this film. It finds a good balance.



Some notes on the previous Spider-Man films feel necessary to properly explain my reaction to this film. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter:

I am a huge fan of the original Spider-Man trilogy directed by the quirky and offbeat Sam Raimi. Raimi is the kind of wonder-kid director who makes you want to step back and simply "marvel" (as per the course, a pun is intended) in the beauty of his unique perspective and stylistic inclinations. You go where Raimi is going; because you know he has the imagination and skill to take you swinging, just like Spider-Man himself does. 

I read countless comic books throughout my youth, but I was never the biggest follower of the Spider-Man comic books. The comics didn't appeal to me as much as my main-readings from Captain American and Batman. Yet from the Spider-Man comics I did read, I thought that Raimi perfectly handled the source material (at least given some basic understanding of the comics) and that he brought to cinematic life the inherent joy and wonder of the storytelling universe while delivering moving dramatics and impressive visuals with uncommon skill.  

I'm confident that I've watched those Sam Raimi directed Spider-Man films with an incredible fancy for them that goes beyond my normal love for cinema. In a way, these films became part of a small core group of movies that I would define as being amongst my favorite movies ever, and nothing will take that love for pure cinematic wonderment away from me. Those films are masterful comic book movies. Sure, I won't disagree that the third one was the weakest in the series, but even Spider-Man 3 was far better than your average multiplex fare. I know some harp that comic book movies still can't be great but the Spider-Man films were massive stepping stones in the wave of excellent adaptations we continue to see in cinemas todays.

I wasn't even sure if I wanted to see The Amazing Spider-Man because of how much I love the Sam Raimi trilogy. I was so irritated and frustrated with Sony deciding to reboot this franchise and go ahead with casting new actors, hiring a new director, and everything else this process would entail. I wanted to see Spider-Man 4, and with everyone who made that original trilogy y involved. I'd even be thrilled if Sony announced a Spider-Man 4 tomorrow... or the next day. Or even a few years from now... but nonetheless I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying The Amazing Spider-Man.


The best reason to see The Amazing Spider-Man is that it is a well-told movie with downright great performances from Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. I was able to put-aside my fond feelings for Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst and accept the differences between the performances -- these are different actors, after all, and in the case of Gwen Stacy we are talking about a different character altogether with this new adaptation. The chemistry between the pair was also stellar and this contributed to a lot of the emotional weight of the film. At its core, The Amazing Spider-Man is a film about people, our relationships, and defining who we are and how we are in relation to the loved ones around us.

Supporting actor Rhys Ifans also provides an impressive performance as the conflicted and distraught scientist turned monster and his performance is right up there with the best of the performances in the earlier films. The human moments with this character elevated many scenes and grounded this story in a tragic and realistic way. Denis Leary was also fantastic as Captain Stacy, Gwen's father and a hero who is only just beginning to learn about Spider-Man and to form an opinion over the course of the story. Again, the human component is the element that makes the film work as well as it does and it is why I found the experience so compelling. 

The bottom line: I walked into the screening of The Amazing Spider-Man with incredibly muted expectations, and without much anticipation. I walked out feeling as though the film was actually amazing. The Amazing Spider-Man shattered my expectations, and in the best way possible. Instead of being disappointed, I was thrilled. I wasn't expecting that at all and I was floored by my own reaction to the film. This movie was two hours and sixteen minutes of "a-m-a-z-i-n-g" fun.  Marc Webb may still be new to the filmmaking world but he certainly seems to be up to the task in a way that will resonate with audiences. In reaching the end-credits, I heard bountiful applause from the audience at my screening and the sound was so joyous that I really appreciated hearing it - something about this film was clicking with audiences the right way and I was completely on board with them as a fellow fan.

This is one of the best pictures of the year. It doesn't take away my mad-love for Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies and it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of those films either. In fact, I could see myself wanting to revisit The Amazing Spider-Man many times. Sign me up for a sequel too and we can begin to see where this alternate timeline of the story might take us. You might think that what I am about to say is crazy-talk, but I think this is arguably an even greater comic book film than The Avengers is. I certainly expect that to mean something to some of you. I think it means that I feel as though this is a film you should head to the cinema to see and critique for yourself. You may just find yourself walking away amazed. Or even swingin'.


Highly Recommended. 

See it in 2D (and remember to stay for the first few minutes of the credits as there is a brief bonus scene).

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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