The Amazing Spider-Man swings it’s way into theaters today and it’s a ride you’ve got to take. Before I begin let me just say something though, we at Geekscape are big on doing our best to keep our reviews as spoiler free as possible. And that sometimes includes being vague on the plot of the movie because let’s face it, movies are just plain more enjoyable when you don’t know the (entire) story going into it.
Now, if you’ve seen the trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man then you obviously know the basic plot and big action beats of the movie… Or do you? Don’t take that last sentence as something negative because it’s not. The exact same thing could actually be said about The Avengers trailer and movie. What made Avengers so enjoyable (other than the awesome action scenes) was the characters. The difference between that movie and this one is that Spider-man is so great and enjoyable due to not just its characters, but the character relationships. We care what happens in this movie because we care about the characters. That is a major, major credit to director Marc Webb, whom also directed the indie-darling (500) Days of Summer. As he showed with (500) Days, director Marc Webb knows how to get that extra bit of magic out of his lead actors and he knows how to get us invested in the characters. He has proven himself to be fully capable of being the man for the job. Well done, sir. James Vanderbilt wrote the screenplay for this and it is yet another fine piece of writing from him. He previously wrote Zodiac and has also written the screenplay for the upcoming Robocop reboot. Here he has written characters that are fun and relatable and feel like real people. You won’t find his take on Peter Parker moping around and sobbing all emo-like for half the movie, sure he does cry but at least we actually get why he’s crying. The story may not be anything new or ground-breaking but I don’t think that’s something anyone was looking for going into this reboot. What we get is an updated take on the Spider-Man origin story that takes its inspiration from Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man and some amazingly shot action scenes.
Making Webb’s job that much easier is a terrific cast. Every actor in this movie shines in their roles. Andrew Garfield is perfectly cast as Peter Parker. Unlike the Raimi trilogy, in which I was never able to connect to Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker, I had no problem relating to this Peter Parker. There’s a reason Spider-Man is Marvel’s most popular and widely-known character, it’s because he is relatable to so many people on so many levels. Andrew Garfield feels like any other high school kid, albeit a genius level high school kid. He is awkward and shy around cute girls. That’s something we geeks (or at least this geek) can relate to for sure. And this spidey is funny, something that was sorely missing in the previous movies. He’s a wise-cracking smartass from Queens! Garfield just knocks it out of the park. Then there’s Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, oh Emma Stone how I love you so. There I said it. It’s tough not to find yourself falling for her as Gwen Stacy. She is sweet and smart, who ever said a blonde couldn’t be smart? Take that stereotypes! She and Garfield have terrific chemistry in this and really sell the audience on the relationship between Peter and Gwen. Rhys Ifans as Curt Conners/The Lizard and while he isn’t given too much to do character-wise he does work wonders with what he’s given. It’s hard to imagine that this is the guy who once played Hugh Grant’s wacky room-mate in the rom-com Notting Hill. He is creepy as all get out in some parts of this and gives a good take on the old Jekyll and Hyde concept. Dennis Leary plays Captain Stacy, Gwen’s father, and while his sceen-time is limited he gets some of the movies funnier lines. Rounding out the cast is Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Mighty fine actors for some mighty important roles. They are both perfect but sadly underused in the movie. That is really one of my only gripes with this movie, I would have liked to see more of Uncle Ben and Aunt May, but that’s just goes to credit how great Martin Sheen and Sally Field are in this. Every one of these actors in this cast just give a great performance be their part big or small. My only other gripe is that we never get to hear Uncle Ben utter Spider-Man’s famous motto “with great power comes great responsibility,” guess we’ll have to wait for the sequel to hear that one.
The special effects and action scenes in this will be something that people will be ranting and raving about. The Lizard special effects aside (and those weren’t even very bad), the rest of the special effects were amazing. You will see and believe that a man can crawl up the side of buildings and swing through the streets of New York City. I hate 3D and saw this in 2D, but The Amazing Spider-Man makes me want to go back and see this again in 3D. Yeah, it looked that good. This is a movie that looks great and works due to it’s ability to make us connect with the characters on screen. It is clear when watching this that it is just the tip of the iceberg and only the beginning of a much larger story that is being set up for the sequels. After you see this movie you will forget all about the Sam Raimi movies. The Amazing Spider-Man is here and it’s a very welcome return of old web-head. This is a damn fine movie and a treat for all, but don’t take my word for it. You’ve got to see it for yourself. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Oh and be sure to stay during the credits, there’s a mid-credit scene.