Here we go again.
Synopsis: As high-schooler Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) starts to investigate what may have caused his parents’ untimely death, he is bitten by a radioactive spider, giving him superhero abilities and inspiring him to become the superhero Spider-Man. His quest for answers leads him on a collision course with his dad’s former associate, Dr. Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans), whose own journey turns him into the villainous Lizard. Can Peter balance being a teenager, a budding romance with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and the responsibilities that come with being a superhero?
Breakdown: It is really unfortunate that The Amazing Spider-Man came out when it did. Pound for pound, this movie is greater in every single way than the first Spider-Man origin on film from 2002. The graphics, acting, story, characters, everything is handled with so much more quality and care than the first time around for good old web-head. Unfortunately for this film, the most recent film in the previous trilogy came out just five years before this film debuted, and there was an overwhelming sense of been there, done that with this movie.
So much time and attention was given to the major story beats of Peter Parker’s transformation into Spider-Man before that The Amazing Spider-Man just seemed like a complete retread of things we already knew. What’s worse, they tried to make some creative decisions to differentiate this film from the previous trilogy, but they were already so established before that it was odd they were left out here. Uncle Ben’s (Martin Sheen) ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ speech gets shifted around a bit here, sort of like a high schooler plagiarizing an essay by using a thesaurus to swap out similar words. Peter’s main love interest isn’t Mary Jane Watson (who isn’t even in this film at all), but instead is Gwen Stacy. Peter’s parents are dead, but this time there is a mystery behind why they left him in the first place. Yawn.
Besides those questionable choices to try and differentiate this film from the previous origin story, everything else works with this film. Garfield is immediately a much better Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He isn’t burdened by the weight of the world and actually enjoys swinging around New York City. There isn’t so much of a huge disconnect between his Parker persona and his superhero persona. Not to mention that he is just a better actor than Tobey Maguire; his acting during Uncle Ben’s death scene brought so much more weight and emotion to the scene than we had previously seen.
It helps that Garfield and Stone were dating in real life while making this film, because the chemistry between the two is off the charts. You believed in their romance and rooted for them to work things out, instead of how often Mary Jane was relegated to be a wet blanket and just mope around in the background every once in a while. Stone brings her personality and wit to the character of Gwen Stacy, and is able to stand on her own two feet without just being the damsel in distress.
Sally Field is a wonderful and wonderfully younger Aunt May. She is such a terriffic actor and embues her small screen time with such wisdom and depth, as does Sheen as Uncle Ben. Rounding out the main cast, Dennis Leary does a commendable job as the captain of the police force and Gwen’s father. Ifans does a fine job as the main villain of the film, but there is a sense of holding back here as we are all waiting to see Spider-Man go toe-to-toe with the Green Goblin in a future film (that never really came to be).
The action scenes are fantastic, particularly the groundbreaking POV shots that really put you inside Spider-Man’s suit and made it feel like you were swinging through New York City. Marc Webb, the director, did a great job making this movie visually stand out from previous entries and putting in that sense of joy and fun that was missing from the first three films.
Also, I’m probably going to get some hate for this, but this is my favorite Spider-Man suit on film to date. I love the long legs on the spider and the shape of his eyes on his mask. This suit absolutely slaps, as the kids say these days.
Verdict: If the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire films were never made and The Amazing Spider-Man was the first time we had seen the hero on the big screen, this movie would be a perfect introduction to the character. Almost everything works and is far superior to the first origin story, but it came so soon after the first trilogy that it seemed inconsequential and less important of a film. It’s a real shame, because this is a really great movie, and paves the way for an exciting take on one of the most popular super heroes of all time.
**This movie review is part of a series of reviews, where we are watching one Spider-Man movie a week leading up to the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home. You can read more about this review series here.
To see the other reviews, click the links below (we’ll update this list each week as we release new reviews):
- Spider-Man 2
- Spider-Man 3
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- Venom: Let There Be Carnage
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Spider-Man: Far From Home
- Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Movie Marathon Review: Spider-Man Recap
Mark Pereira is a senior writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find him on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows.
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