Reviewed Jul 11, 2012
Mark Cassidy’s review:
This was always going to be a difficult review for me to write, regardless of what I thought of the movie. Should I try to forget Sam Raimi's trilogy ever existed and just take Marc Webb's reboot on its own merits? That seems the fairest thing to do right? Well ordinarily yes, but when Sony made the decision to reboot the Spider-Man franchise after only 5 years, and more bizarrely chose to reset the clock on Peter Parker, giving us the same origin story told so well in Raimi's original first time around, lets just say the same rules don't necessarily apply. As far as I was concerned The Amazing Spider-Man needed to be something very special - at least on par with Spider-Man 2 - to even justify its existence. So did it? I'm afraid this is going to be one of those yes and no type deals!
Honestly, aside from one or two shots/moments, I was fairly underwhelmed by pretty much everything I had seen from The Amazing Spider-Man in the build up to its release. I thought the suit was iffy, the tone seemed unsure of itself, and by God what the Hell was I looking at when this version of The Lizard was finally revealed! A Goomba from that Mario Bros. movie on steroids? I was a big fan of the cast and loved Marc Webb's 500 Days Of Summer though so I tried to remain cautiously optimistic - and I'm pleased to report that although I had issues with the movie, for the most part I was very happy to be wrong.
Forget about all that "Spidey for the Twilight generation" crap you may have read in other reviews, Webb does up the teen/romance quota slightly but unlike anything in Twilight or its ilk, it works. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone give great performances and have sizzling screen (and offscreen evidently) chemistry. In fact, as you have probably read a dozen times before, Garfield is a joy to behold in every way as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. His take on the character is more a twitchy, put-upon loner than Tobey Maguire's out-and-out gizoid, and as a result we get a more relatable, comic-friendly hero to root for. Garfield handles the drama, humor, and action expertly - even if he's let down by a few dud lines here and there, and overdoes the gurning a bit in a few scenes too. Emma Stone matches him scene for scene, while obviously not getting as much to do, she makes for an engaging and adorable Gwen Stacy. Both are bolstered by a fine supporting cast - Martin Sheen and Sally Field are great, and I actually wished they had more screen time, while Dennis Leary - an actor who usually annoys me - is a pleasant surprise as Captain Stacy. So what about the villain of the piece? Rhys Ifans is...good as Curt Connors, but he seems slightly subdued and, well, boring in some scenes. I get that that's probably the way he was directed to play the character but it just doesn't always work. But his monstrous alter-ego works out a lot better than I had feared, even though I still don't like the design they went with, the CGI is a lot better than it seemed to be in the trailers and he's a successful creation all-in-all. The action scenes are also top notch, and you would never know Webb was working on a smaller budget. The advances in special effects ensure that everything from the web-swinging to the acrobatics to the fight scenes all look just as good if not better than they did in Raimi's movies. There are also a few nice variations on how Spidey gets around this time.
So what's the problem? Ah, it's that ever so minor thing called the story I'm afraid. You can make as many alterations to how a story is told as you like, but if the same things happen, you are telling the same story! TASM is flat out just too similar to Raimi's first Spider-Man from a narrative standpoint, and whether you are a fan of his take or not, there is no getting away from that. The only real addition plot wise - the mystery surrounding Peter's parents - is pretty much neglected after the first 10 minutes, no doubt to be explored in more detail in the sequel.
The Amazing Spider-Man is a very good movie, just not a very good reboot. Still, since one can/should only review a movie, my rating below stands - it's highly recommended. But "the untold story"? Not by a long shot.