- Directed by Marc Webb
- June 13, 2012 (Tokyo) / July 3, 2012 (US)
Young Peter Parker gains powers from a genetically altered spider and must face off against a mysterious reptilian foe.
I know the following statement will be controversial among MCU fans. I enjoyed this film far more than either of the two current Spider-Man films for several reasons. Not only is Uncle Ben his motivation-unlike the current films-he is also the one that helped to craft Peter Parker’s moral center much like in the comics. This film also focuses more on the Spider-Man character and not a long list of guest characters that do not appear in the title.
I think a good chunk of the hate for this film and its successor comes from the fact that these were not overtly connected to the MCU. Not all of it but a good chunk. That is not to say it is a perfect film nor is it without its flaws. I just feel there are plenty of people that dislike this film with their starting point of dislike being that it is not directly connected to the MCU.
One thing that works for me in this movie is that it is a New York movie. Spider-Man is your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. His home is New York City, and he fights to defend it and it seems New York City needs defending a lot. Not he and a cast of other random Marvel characters. This film focuses on Spider-Man. It introduces him and his world.
Here Andrew Garfield is cast as Peter Parker with Martin Sheen and Sally Field playing Ben and May Parker respectively. One significant issue is that Andrew Garfield looks too old to play a high school student. I think they could have bumped it to him being in college (where in the comics Peter spent far more time than in high school) and the story would have been taken better by the critics
As Peter, he gets the banter right though he is a little more cool than nerdy. I just though cannot see Garfield as an actor being nerdy though truth be told neither Tobey Maguire or Tom Holland were nerdy. I knew a dude in high school that could fix a calculator without giving much thought but was lost on pop culture. That is nerdy. At most the screen iterations made Peter awkward.
Rather than jump into the Mary Jane relationship from the start, Webb begins instead with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). In the comics the relationship with Gwen, though briefer, was as significant to Peter as was the one with Mary Jane. Both have had character shaping impacts.
Gwen here is a crush from a distance. She is smart and charismatic and Peter’s search for answers concerning his parents finally gives him the chance to connect with her. Gwen is the chief intern at Oscorp where the partner of Peter’s father works. She is also the daughter of NYPD Police Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary)-a cop bent on arresting Peter’s alter ego.
They do a good job of making sparks fly between the two. Perhaps it helped that the two started dating around this time. Regardless it comes off as rather natural. You believe there are feelings there.
Rhys Ifans is cast as Richard Parker’s (Campbell Scott) former partner Dr. Curt Connors who eventually becomes The Lizard. I think visually The Lizard version here was okay. I would have preferred to see him in the pants and lab coat of the comics but visually I am not sure how that would have worked out. And you could not have gone with the snout version and included dialogue. It either would have looked silly or incredibly fake. The suspension of disbelief would have been difficult if not impossible.
Much like in the comics, this Connors is missing an arm and is using his research as a way to rectify that. Connors is not necessarily evil but rather his darker nature comes out when he starts treating himself with him only having two arms as a reptilian. For some reason the replacement arm withers away when he reverts back to human. This is what drives him in the story.
I thought the action was good and Spider-Man was physically given a close depiction to the comics. He twisted and turned and swung and flipped like he might in the pages of the comics. Admittedly I have not read the comics in many years so I am pulling this from the memories of my youth.
The action scenes were frenetic with Spider-Man cracking jokes as he fought. He kind of plays with the criminals in a way. This however is not all fun and games as he is prowling the streets initially to track down the criminal that killed his uncle.
I thought the easing of tensions between Peter and Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) should not have occurred. At least not as quickly as it did. One of the things about the comics is that Flash Thompson under normal conditions would be a physical threat to Peter but Peter, once he got his powers, shows restraint because with his powers Peter could have ended Flash without much effort. After all Flash was merely human. With great power comes great responsibility and in the comics Peter showed that responsibility with restraint.
In the end Spider-Man must save the city from a biological agent which will turn everyone into lizard people. That is a very comic book plot executed on the big screen without coming off as silly in my opinion. I write it down and it sounds stupid but up on the screen it works.
The Amazing Spider-Man also introduced to his parents’ deaths in a plane crash and their mysterious actions before they died. Their story in the comics is very convoluted but this is a broad strokes live action interpretation of what happened with them and manages to make it much more digestible without revealing why they ran and left Peter behind.
Does every comic book inspired film need to beat you over the head with a connection to other films? No. The Amazing Spider-Man is a good comic book film that is loyal to the source material as well as being a good story. It has good action and generally good performances so I will call this a watch it!