“The Amazing Spider-Man” Movie Review

It’s been quite a while since my last movie review.  “Secretariat” was such a terrible movie that it kept me from blogging for almost an entire year.  No?  Not buying that excuse?  Yeah, neither am I.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” was actually not a terrible movie.  In fact, it was pretty good.  I like movies that have been pruned down to where they need to be.  It was 2 hours and 16 minutes of tightly paced superhero action and teen drama.  So it’s a wonderfully lean and nimble movie.

In terms of origin stories, this one gets it right.  At no point is Peter sat down with a talking clipboard explaining to him his new abilities.  Instead, we learn along with him what can and cannot be done.  Its a very organic superhero film and others would do well to take notes.

Furthermore, its got faces.  Real faces.  Andrew Garfield perfectly captures the lead role.  I say this because I have met his Peter Parker.  Uncomfortably asocial, grungy, irresponsible, and brilliant.  Not quite the romantic image of a lone wolf, but not so accepting of his own limitations to actually be anything.  I’ve met this man.  And that just made it for me.  It was real!

Emma Stone, playing the lead lips, earns an A+ in my book for her ability to draw the audience in but not seem sugary and precocious.  In one scene (scratch that, a moment) she pulls of surprise, disgust, and delight all at once purely through non-verbal gestures.  Exceptional job.  My only complaint was that of her wardrobe.  She dresses like a “professional” woman.  It was silly and distracting.

The two antagonists are also well cast.  Rhys Ifans plays a genius “can’t look away from his stump” amputee who turns into a freakish lizard through the “help” of science.  Denis Leary plays a loud mouthed cop who happens to be Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy’s father.  Good actors playing decent roles.

My main complaint of the movie is that it came out too soon.  “Spider-Man” has all the right ingredients, they’re just undeveloped like a warm cake.  Not a hot, delicious, and juicy cake, but a warm cake.  It was taken out of the oven just a tad too soon.

I have a problem with the Lizard.  We are lead to believe his dilemma is not unlike that of Jekyll and Hyde, but there is hardly any complexity to his struggle.  We see wrath and envy, but no grief, woe, or frustration.  I know Rhys Ifans can pull this off because he has some serious chops, but it’s just not in the pen and ink of the script.

There are also interesting elements that the movie plays with that I wish it would just commit to.  For example, at one point we see Spider-Man confront the Lizard in an unmistakably arachnid-esque way.  This wonderful idea has one scene and the rest of the story is devoid of its implications.  What would a Spider-Man be like that approached things in a very spider-like way?  One can only guess.

Now for my above complaints, their solutions could be tucked away in a hypothetically superior, future draft of an already expensive screen play.  All the right actors and crew showed up, it would just seem that the writers were being hurried.  It could be a powerful story, but they ran out of time and money.  A sad fact of all too many movies and virtually all collaborative entertainment.

So overall, a good movie that will make you walk away with dreams in your head.  It has no problems in pacing and that’s a big deal in my book.  I never felt bored, but, on the other hand, I was not always impressed.  It doesn’t have a place in my Canon because of what it could have been, but it is a delightful, warm meal.

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4 Responses to ““The Amazing Spider-Man” Movie Review”

  1. A well-balanced review. I’ll rent it for sure, but I agree — it’s out a little soon after the last franchise. Perhaps intentionally to make us forget Spidey 3 with that jaw-dropping dance number…

    • I’m actually of extreme minority that felt the dance scene was funny and useful. In fact, I’d call the third entry something of a flawed gem. If they had dropped a villain (ideally Sandman), perhaps the whole thing wouldn’t feel so bloated. Then it would be really good.

  2. I didn’t love it. I just didn’t like the main character. And I agree with you…Emma Stone’s wardrobe was unrealistic and distracting. It wasn’t a bad movie, but it just wasn’t very memorable.

    • I would think that how memorable a movie is might be the only real criteria by which to judge it. As fun and flashy as the Academy Awards are, wouldn’t it make more sense to be giving out awards for movies that people still find enjoyable 1000 viewings in or even 30 years later?

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