After the atrocity that was Spider-Man 3, Sony needed to reboot the franchise with a fresh feel. So they hired a man who by name alone was perfect for the job, Marc Webb, to rebuild their most successful comic book property with The Amazing Spider-Man. After his parents abandon him, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) grows up with His Uncle Ben and Aunt May. In his effort to learn about his parents’ disappearance he goes to Oscorp to meet his father’s colleague Curt Connors, where a genetically enhanced spider bites him. As Peter begins to test his abilities he is struck by tragedy as an armed robber shoots and kills Uncle Ben. Peter begins to use his power to track down the killer. When a giant Lizard starts attacking people, Peter begins to see the importance of helping people and becomes Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen and Sally Field.
For many people it was hard to accept a replacement for Tobey Maguire, especially since it had only been 5 years since he portrayed Spider-Man. I had loved Andrew Garfield in The Social Network and was excited to see what he would bring as Spider-Man. Whilst he was clearly too old to be playing a high school student he brought a new feel to the character that separated his Spider-Man from Maguire. He actually felt like the genius everyone kept saying Maguire was meant to be. He builds his own web shooters; he works out how to defeat the Lizard using science and is a smart student. He also has classic Spider-Man sarcasm, with my favourite scene being the one where a carjacker pulls a knife. Garfield gives a fantastic response before stopping him. Despite this being an origin story similar to Spider-Man, Garfield brought his own personal flavour to the role that doesn’t feel the same as Maguire at all.
One reason this movie stands out the most to me is Gwen Stacy. We have a strong female lead that is not a victim. Compared to Mary Jane who was kidnapped and captured by every villain in the original trilogy, Gwen Stacy is a smart and capable character that is able to assist Spider-Man. She brings humour and compassion to the role but remains tough, and not just tough talking but puts herself in danger to help. I liked Dunst’s performance but not her character; I love the character of Gwen Stacy and believe Emma Stone was perfectly cast.
It may have helped that they were a couple in real life, but the chemistry between Peter (Garfield) and Gwen (Stone) was fantastic. They were a much more believable on screen romance than any that had come before. As much as I liked Raimi’s Spider-Man, and think Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst are great actors, however there never was great chemistry between them as a love story. Theirs was more of a girl next-door type of relationship. In The Amazing Spider-Man Peter and Gwen’s relationship is the type of relationship that people want to see. What we get are two people who care for one another and want to help each other.
One of the many problems I mentioned in my Spider-Man 3 review was the fact they had multiple villains. Having one villain had worked for the first two Spider-Man movies, a lesson it appears Marc Webb took notice off. He went back to the single villain with Dr Curt Connors aka The Lizard. It is interesting that he would pick this villain to start with since he is not the biggest name in Spider-Man’s Rogues Gallery but works perfectly for this type of film. Due to the fact he is the only villain we get an insight into what makes him tick, we still see that he becomes the bad guy with the best intentions. He is a villain with depth that has an arc that leads to his redemption.
Though this is an origin story similar to Raimi’s first Spider-Man, the character of Peter Parker is quite different. This origin has a more flawed character as he searches for Uncle Ben’s killer and abuses his powers to stand up to Flash Thompson. He becomes Spider-Man as he uses his power to track down criminals that look like the man who murdered his uncle. Captain Stacy even highlights that he isn’t a hero he is a vigilante and there is a difference. It was a concept not explored in the previous movies. Peter also shows Gwen very early on who he really is, which was something that Maguire tried really hard to avoid doing. People often complain that it is another reboot but this offers a lot more that just a remake of a movie made ten years prior.
Where nostalgia for Raimi’s Spider-Man has picked up in recent times, it has become popular to hate Webb’s version. If you take your nostalgia goggles off you will see that there are a lot of positives towards Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man. Yes we see Uncle Ben’s death again but this scene has a different level of impact that plays an important role in Peter’s development. We have a great relationship arc between Peter and Gwen and have a strong villain. This is just a personal choice but I also much prefer this version of Uncle Ben and Aunt May and believe they offer this Peter something more than in the other movies.
Check it out if you are a fan of Spider-Man and Comic Book movies. Check it out if you want to believe in love and see Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone on screen together.
The Amazing Spider-Man scores 7.5/10
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