The 411: The Amazing Spider-Man is the reboot of the recent successful Spider-Man films (the last of which, Spider-Man 3, was released in 2007). Sony has to make a Spider-Man movie every couple of years in order to keep the rights to the character from reverting to Marvel/Disney so that is why we got a full on re-imagining of the web crawler’s tale instead of Spider-Man 4.
Peter Parker/Spider-Man vs Peter Parker/Spider-Man
In the 2002 Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire was in his element as the shy, introverted Peter Parker. He looked like a kid who got bullied a lot and you could see in his eyes that he wished he could be more. As Spider-Man I never really got the same quality of performance from him. Maybe it was acting with a mask on or Maguire just is better at being a geek but his Spidey never reached the level of his Peter Parker.
Andrew Garfield on the other hand was perfect in both persona. His Peter Parker was just as convincing as the unpopular school outcast and the fact that the 2012 movie played up Peter’s intellect and love of science was a welcome addition from the comics. Garfield also pulled off Spider-man perfectly; playing him as the wisecracking motor mouth that he is in the comics a lot better than was ever conveyed in the original series of films.
Advantage: Spider-Man ’12
Gwen Stacy vs Mary Jane Watson
I am not the biggest Kirsten Dunst fan on the planet aside from her performance in Interview With A Vampire. So my estimation of her as Mary Jane Watson never impressed me. She never seemed fully involved in any of her scenes with Tobey Maguire (not even the infamous kissing scene) and there was very little about her Mary Jane that made me understand why anyone was so enamored with her.
Emma Stone is one of my favorite young actresses and she delivers wonderfully as Gwen Stacey, Peter Parker’s first love. Gwen is spunky, whip smart, brave and resourceful…all the things that you expect from the significant other of a super-hero. Plus she and Andrew Garfield have pretty good chemistry with one another.
Advantage: Spider-Man ’12
Aunt May & Uncle Ben vs Aunt May & Uncle Ben
In the 2002 film Ben and May Parker were played by Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris. Robertson never really got to do all that much besides die but Harris had a lot of meat to her role as Aunt May. She was very involved in all aspects of Peter’s life (aside from the web-slinging) and was Peter’s moral and emotional rock.
In the 2012 film the roles are played by Martin Sheen and Sally Field. Sheen’s Ben was given much more to do than Robertson’s and you ended up relating to Sheen’s Ben a lot more. Sadly Field’s May was relegated to fretting and not much more. She was hardly shown as being involved in Peter’s life after Ben was killed and that is a shame because Field is a great actress.
Green Goblin vs The Lizard
In the 2002 film Willem Dafoe was a nice mix of icy, manic malevolence as Norman Osborn but that cool factor got diluted when he was The Green Goblin because someone decided it would be a good idea to dress him up as a rejected Power Rangers villain. That being said…out of the goofy green space suit, Dafoe’s Osborn was a really top notch and complicated villain.
Rhys Ifans was OK as scientist Curt Connor but the Lizard has never been a favorite of mine and a gigantic humanoid lizard that talks like Tim Curry was not nearly as impressive as one would have hoped.
Advantage: Spider-Man ’02
About The Movie
The Amazing Spider-Man did a lot of things right. The characterization of Peter Parker/Spider-Man was a lot closer to the comics version and that was very welcome. To be honest most characters were given more depth and dimension than in the previous films (in particular Peter’s nemesis Flash Thompson was actually shown to be a fully formed human being as opposed to just a bullying douchebag) and that helped to make the interactions between the characters feel more real. The action shots were also impressive. While there is a fairly high amount of CG animation used there was also a lot of old school stunt shots and the two tended to blend very well so that when an action shot switched from stunt man to computer animation it was not a jarring experience. I also liked director Marc Webb’s decision to set the majority of all the Spider-man exploits at night instead of during the day like in the 2002 movie. Everything looked better at night against the backdrop of the well lit New York sky.
On the downside I was not impressed with The Lizard as a villain and the marginalization of Aunt May was a major misstep that I hope gets corrected in the sequel. And the extra scene after the credits was a bit underwhelming to say the least.
Final Verdict: A majorly fun movie experience that I found myself liking a lot more than I ever expected to since my expectations for this film were pretty low going in. The cast was great and the direction/FX were very strong. The film could have used a better villain but every other aspect of the The Amazing Spider-Man was strong enough to overcome that hurdle. Spider-Man: B- The Amazing Spider-Man: B+