I kind of feel sorry for The Amazing Spiderman. Nobody really needed it. The original Spiderman movies are still so fresh in everyone’s mind that this revamp of the series confuses more than excites. In fact, it was only made so the studio could retain the rights to the property. I feel like any greatness this version achieves will be undermined by people not being really sure why it exists. However, The Amazing Spiderman boasts a strong cast with Andrew Garfield as the webslinger and real life girlfriend Emma Stone as his love interest Gwen Stacey, and a new look at Spidey’s origin.
Peter Parker was orphaned as a young boy when his mother and scientist father left him with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) in the middle of the night, only to die in a plane crash shortly after. Peter grows into an intelligent teenager who has a passion for photography and habit of sticking up for the little guy. However, he knows little about his parents, as his aunt and uncle rarely talk about them. When he discovers papers his father left behind, it leads him to find his father’s old partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who works for Oscorp trying to discover a way for humans to regenerate missing parts, as he has a deformed arm. When trying to track Connors down, Peter stumbles upon one of his experiment and is bitten by a radiated spider, giving him unique powers. When tragedy hits his family, he dedicates himself to tracking down criminals that the cops aren’t taking care of. Meanwhile, Connors obsession corrupts him and he becomes The Lizard, who begins to terrorize New York City. Only Peter Parker knows enough about Connors’ work to bring The Lizard down.
One thing this film has over the original Spiderman movie is a stronger central cast. Andrew Garfield is total teenager as Peter. He’s sometimes sweet, sometimes snotty, sometimes emo. While trying to hide his secret from his aunt and uncle, he comes off like a kid with a drug addiction and he clashes with his guardians as they don’t understand how he could suddenly become so irresponsible. In the original film series, Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane was always a deal breaker for me. I always felt they totally threw everything interesting about the character out the window and, to me, the series’ failure can be symbolized in on shot, Mary Jane running in slow-mo in her wedding dress, rushing to tell Peter she loves him. Gag me! However, this time around, Peter Parker’s paramour is America’s most lovable young actress, Emma Stone who plays Gwen Stacey. Gwen is smart, capable, and a good person and likes Peter from the get go because he is also smart, capable and a good person. Garfield and Stone have great chemistry so I hope they keep Gwen Stacey around for another movie or two. Martin Sheen is strong as Uncle Ben, though Sally Fields isn’t given much to do as Aunt May. Time will tell if her character is developed more as the series continues. Also, I found myself feeling sorry for Ifans’ Dr. Connors as his obsession drove him over the edge.
When I first saw the trailer I felt it was too much movie. There’s the stuff with his parents, his basic origin story, the Lizard, his antagonistic relationship with Denis Leary, it’s a lot for one movie! It wasn’t as overwhelming as I anticipated, but the pacing is a little off. There’s a bit too much time spent pre-bite and then even more time spent before Connors transforms to the Lizard! There are certain elements that don’t get explored enough and others that are downright anti-climactic.
While this latest take on the classic Marvel hero is a bit cluttered, the cast is strong enough that it gives one hope for the sequel, when there’s less back story to get through and the plot can really hit the ground running.