Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was the first Spider-Man that I got acquainted with. Yea I read some of the comics afterwards but no matter what that was my Spider-Man. As time went on though I did eventually realize that Spider-Man is bigger than Raimi and I knew that even his version was flawed. The original Spider-Man was a little too cheesy at times and Spider-Man 3 was a mess even if it’s heart was in the right place. So I was ready to see a new Spider-Man and I welcomed The Amazing Spider-Man with open arms. It was promising to be darker and more complex then Spidy’s first outings and it was directed by Marc Webb whose (500) Days of Summer was a Rom/Com masterpiece. And then you have Andrew Garfield who would have been close to the top of my list of young actors to fill Toby McGuire’s shoes. There was so much potential to be something extraordinary but as the film went on I felt the desire for my Spidy back. Gone is the loveable Peter Parker and gone is the fun of the films that came before it. In The Amazing Spider-Man, Marc Webb has doused Spider-Man with gases of poor imitation and lit him with a blaze of misguided direction.
Following the main plot points of the original Spider-Man and the character’s comic origins, TAS-M never gets off the ground. Some of people’s biggest complaints were that this film followed the same outline of the original Spider-Man to closely. I don’t have a problem with that in principle because to stray away from what fans know would have been a fatal mistake. There is some stuff about Peter’s parents but soon after the beginning of the film those ideas are casually thrown to the wayside. So what you have essentially in the first hour is a sub par remake of what Raimi brought to screen ten years ago. There is no grace or flow to the origins of Spider-Man in TAS-M. The screenplay just seems to be rolling along and moments that could have helped give our hero time to grow in his skin is wasted on set ups to the second half of the movie. Characters aren’t introduced and fleshed out properly (Aunt May) and Peter is able to accept the unacceptable in no time at all. I feel like this has to be attributed to the set up of not only the climax but also to sequels. Where Batman Begins gave the audience time to know it’s new cape crusader, TAS-M throws us into the action before we have time to adjust to a Spider-Man.
The second half of the film doesn’t feel like an origin film at all. We don’t get to see the city adjust to a dude in red spandex suddenly showing up and people accept almost anything for the good of moving the story forward (I guess their city was attacked by aliens not so long ago….). So I feel like there are two films here and both are rushed to fit into one. If there is one thing that does help the second half it is the action, which is well done. Almost too well done as if it was influenced by some other superhero film (wonder which one that could be). It seems like the best parts of the movie is when TAS-M gives in to the fact that Raimi’s highflying Spidy of the past is the way to go. The only thing original about the whole movie is the Lizard who looks awesome. Not the character himself who is very inconsistent but the look of him. The filmmakers here have made an unrealistic villain look almost realistic. If they can do that with The Lizard then I can’t wait to see what they can do with The Green Goblin but I digress. The second act contains a lot of cool action scenes (best of which happens at Peter’s high school) but they can’t save things. By the time we get to the action set pieces I was left wondering what was the point of all this if I didn’t care about the person behind the mask.
That leads me to my biggest problem with TAS-M; I hate Peter Parker. He isn’t likable at all and when he isn’t saving people he is out acting like a cocky emo kid (not as emo as Spider-Man 3, you still got that Raimi). Garfield isn’t miss cast he just doesn’t give a performance that the character deserved. But this movie isn’t about Peter, it’s about Spider-Man and the fasted routes that can get him to screen. Garfield fails because the script doesn’t allow him to act the right way nor does it surround him with relatable characters. Gwen Stacy is a throw away as Emma Stone portrays her as a smart dumb girl. She can get into any college she wants and yet she doesn’t realize what a creepy and impolite boyfriend she has. I hated her character and her father too whose 360 change towards the end of film left me scratching my head. All of this leads to the film’s foe who is so bipolar (like most bad superhero villains) that I don’t have the patience to discuss him. The people are at the heart of any great superhero film and TAS-M failed to even give them a chance. They are all just pawns of an end result that will surely be The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
When I was discussing all the things I didn’t like about Raimi’s Spider-Man I left out one film and that is Spider-Man 2. That was the film that proved that Peter Parker was more interesting than our web slinging crime fighter. Spider-Man 2 was a movie about Peter Parker with Spider-Man in it. Even when he did battle foes in that movie I still felt like I was seeing Peter behind the mask. TAS-M never feels whole. It feels like it is a movie for those that never got Spidy in the first place. My friend Dave always used to say that he never drank alcohol just to drink, he drank because it was a means to an end. Spider-Man is just a means to an end, the end result being the telling of Peter’s story. In that respect TAS-M is nothing more than a movie getting drunk off it’s own logo.
The Amazing Spider-Man is the last mile marker till The Dark Knight Rises. I have seen the Avengers form, Prometheus land, and now the so call resurrection of Spider-Man. We have less then 20 days till the day when Nolan hopefully surpasses all of our expectations, again.