This week, Papa Kenn reviews the reboot of a barely 10-year-old film series, THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN! Does it meet the high expectations associated with having to justify a reboot so soon?
“The Amazing Spiderman”
Director: Marc Webb
Writers: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Cloves
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Rhys Ifans
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The Amazing Spiderman is the unnecessary reboot to the Spiderman trilogy from director Sam Raimi, starring Toby McGuire and Kirsten Dunst. The first of these was released in 2002, almost exactly 10 years before this new installment. This violates the unwritten 14-year “reboot rule” according to many fans, and to make matters worse, Spiderman 3 was released only 5 years ago. Then digging its grave even deeper, we get Spiderman’s origin story…AGAIN! Now the biggest challenge for a movie like this is obviously whether or not its existence as a reboot is justified.
So does it justify itself as a reboot? Well…no. But that doesn’t mean this movie isn’t good. The truth is, The Amazing Spiderman is really good! So good in fact, that I consider it not only better than Spiderman 3 (not a very difficult feat), but possibly even the first Spiderman movie as well! I know this may seem like heresy, but the quality of the movie speaks for itself.
The cast is spot on, with great performances from all of the key characters. Andrew Garfield, aside from the annoyingly “Edward from Twilight”-esque hair, is by far a more convincing Peter Parker than Toby McGuire. Emma Stone’s portrayal of Gwen Stacy is much stronger than Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson. Other than simply being “the love interest” or a “damsel in distress”, Gwen plays a key role in many parts of the movie, especially the events leading to the final battle! Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben is a character we quickly grow attached to, and Sally Field as Aunt May is lovingly relatable without having to remind you of your grandma. In fact the balance of most character relationships was one of the most impressive aspects of this movie.
Obviously the most important part of a Spiderman film has to be Spiderman himself, and this is another area where Garfield not only sets himself apart from McGuire, but the character itself is vastly different. This Spiderman is…well, he’s the Spiderman that comic nerds like me have come to love in the pages of graphic novels. He’s quick, witty, and rather than spending half the movie crying (and let’s face it, McGuire did his fair share of that in the Raimi films), this Spiderman makes fun of every thug he disposes of, and continues the smart-assery in even
the most dire of situations.
Overall this is a solid and very well made movie, but it’s not without its flaws. The CGI is laid on thick, and while it works well most of the time for Spiderman’s enhanced speed and movement, The Lizard looks more than a little fake at times. Then there’s the first-person perspective shots, which are obviously done for the sake of people that paid for the 3D glasses. While these aren’t overdone, and are highly preferred over the “coming right at you” 3D tricks from Men in Black 3, they still occur more often than necessary.
The final, and unfortunately biggest issue with this movie is that it simply doesn’t justify the need for a reboot so soon after the conclusion of a trilogy that is still fresh on everyone’s mind. It just doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself from the Raimi films, or even the traditional Spiderman mythos. Plus, let’s face it, we’re all sick and tired of “origin” stories. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Batman Begins, Wolver- uh…SPIDERMAN; all origin stories that range from face-melting to “aw, well that was nice”. Who doesn’t know Spiderman’s origin story by now?
Despite falling short of justifying a franchise reboot and some other minor flaws, this is a movie I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. Webb’s film does enough different from Raimi’s Spiderman that it doesn’t feel like a complete rehash, and on its own the film stands strongly among the powerhouse Marvel Comics movies in recent years. It’s no Captain America, Iron Man, or The Dark Knight, but still fights to be noticed amidst these heavy duty movies with a quality that rivals Spiderman 2. Yes, the movie that so many of us geeks and nerds consider to be the best of the Spiderman series. It doesn’t quite reach that level of quality, but easily blows away Spiderman [Meets That 70’s Show] 3, and is just as good if not better than Spiderman [vs Willem Dafoe (who I can only hope will appear in the Amazing Spiderman sequel)] 1.
It’s unnecessary, it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, but it’s so very good. You got me Webb, now bring on the sequels!
I give The Amazing Spiderman: 8 / 10
I’m Papa Kenn, and I’ll see you next review.