The Amazing Spider-Man
“It is an entirely unnecessary remake, but a good one.”
-Robert Roten, Laramie Movie Scope
The Amazing Spider-Man comes just 5 short years after the final entry in the last Spider-Man film series. The first question on everyone’s mind is: Why reboot this franchise so soon? Money, for one thing. The previous franchise had gotten too big and expensive to continue being profitable enough for Sony Pictures (Tobey Maguire alone would have cost $50 million to retain). In addition to the financial issues, director Sam Raimi began to demand more creative control after pesky studio interference frankly destroyed Spider-Man 3. Of course the solution to this is to reboot everything and start fresh with cheaper actors (Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone) and a young, up-and-coming director in Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer). Another reason for the timing of this reboot has to do with how the rights to Spider-Man were sold to Sony Pictures by Marvel Studios in the 1990’s. No one seems to know for sure, but a “reverter clause” is said to exist, that returns the license to Marvel if Sony isn’t demonstrating use of the property.
So, that’s WHY this movie exists. Now let’s get into the real question: SHOULD this movie exist? Let’s explore. The film begins as young Peter Parker (Garfield) is whisked away to live with with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May due to some shady things happening with his Fathers research in genetic engineering. Flash forward to Parker as a high school student. Investigating the details of his estranged Fathers work leads him to the infamous Oscorp, where Peter runs into future love interest Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), meets one-armed scientist turned mutant Dr. Curt Connors (Rhy Ifans), and of course, gets bit by a genetically engineered spider.
Following the trend of “darker and grittier” superhero movies, Spider-Man is mostly successful. It is essentially the same origin story told in 2002’s Spider-Man, but told in a different way. Ifans as The Lizard makes a much more inspired villain than Raimi’s rogue’s gallery of poorly executed baddies: Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Sandman, Venom. Although the choreography of the action in The Amazing Spider-Man might not be as finely tuned as the previous installments, it is the character work that really shines here. Garfield and Stone have chemistry bursting at the seams and play off each other with perfection. As the romantic duo that drives the heart of the film, they put Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst to shame. There is a slight issue with the tonality of this film, as it mostly aims for a certain realism and edginess but sometimes comes across as over-the-top, including an incredibly cheesy scene towards the end of the film in which a group of blue-collar New York City workers band together to give Spider-Man a hand.
The Amazing Spider-Man, while perhaps not a necessary reboot of the franchise, is a great improvement on Sam Raimi’s trilogy of the early 2000’s. Although not a lot of new ground is broken story-wise, the acting, direction and emotional center make this an excellent entry in the Spider-Man franchise, as well as comic book films in general.