Fri
Jun 29 2012 3:00pm

The Amazing Spider-Man is So Good I Don’t Know What to Say About It

The Amazing Spider-Man movie review

I had the same doubts as everyone else regarding The Amazing Spider-Man; a reboot of a movie series still very fresh in our minds. It was a blatant cash grab move, it was disrespectful to the legitimacy the previous trilogy accomplished (even if it did devolve into jazz dancing and EVERYONE CRYING), and it was just too soon. We’d already been privy to so much onscreen Spider-Man that it was hard to imagine what else we even wanted to see. And the new film just didn’t look interesting. Why are we supposed to care about Peter’s parents? Why is Andrew Garfield playing a way-too-attractive Peter Parker? It seemed like we were just getting his usual origin story, except with new sets.

Keep these lowered expectations at the forefront of your mind when you go to see The Amazing Spider-Man, because you will be absolutely astounded as the movie exceeds them over and over.

No spoilers ahead, although I will be teasing you…

Let’s get this out of the way before anything else: The Amazing Spider-Man is really good. It’s an extremely solid, well-acted movie that earns every moment. It makes the first three Spider-Man movies feel like camp classics and, like The Avengers, it earns a comic book readers’ trust in how it handles its story and its characters, even though the circumstances are different enough that you actually don’t know what comes next.

There are certain integral moments to Spider-Man’s story that have been missing from the trailers and promotional material: his difficulty in school, his intelligence, and the importance of Uncle Ben, to name a few. These are all very much here in the film, and director Marc Webb lets these elements naturally inform each other with such ease that Peter’s life seems completely relatable. This is a huge accomplishment on the part of the film. It lets the characters and their world breathe before asking you to take on the more fantastic elements of the story.

That’s only a third of the formula that makes this movie so enjoyable, though, and it wouldn’t stand up as well if the actors weren’t so completely charming and multi-faceted in their roles. It really doesn’t seem like it from the trailers for this film, but Andrew Garfield is a perfect Peter Parker and a perfect Spider-Man. He’s a huge nerd, but in ways that are specific to him. He can fix a freezer, and he’s a burgeoning Maker, but he’s still a kid so although he can understand an equation that his father left behind, he still needs the help of others to piece it into larger theories. And he acts like a nerd acts. He has a strong sense of justice, but a healthy dose of arrogance and a desire to isolate himself from others and live in his own head. There is the obligatory Einstein poster in his room, but also a range of other interests. Garfield’s Parker is a full person.

He’s also a bit of a sweetheart and his interactions with Gwen Stacy are the textbook definition of meet-cute. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy is dryly humored, good-hearted, mature, efficient, and very aware of the world she lives in and the desires she has to juggle. Their relationship is very much like a quirky, funny young adult novel and I could watch an entire movie of just them. She’s so engaging and such a strong female character that if you know Gwen’s eventual fate in the comics, you start to get really worried as the film winds up. I dare not tell you her fate.

The final element that makes The Amazing Spider-Man really cohere is just how intelligent it is about its source material. There are a hundred instances where you can tell that the filmmakers really thought through what the characters would do in a certain situation, given what they know, how experienced they are, how old they are, and so on. At one point, Spider-Man is searching the sewers for the Lizard and sets up a web that extends through several tunnels so that vibrations along the web lines will alert him that the Lizard is near. It’s such a small moment but it makes so much sense within the context of the film. Parker combines his powers and his scientific knowledge and does something smart because that’s who the character is. And then, because he’s still essentially a teenager, he plays a cell phone game while he waits. This is how well the movie understands the material.

There are a million more things I want to talk about in regards to this movie, but really it all boils down to this: watching The Amazing Spider-Man gives you the same glorious open-aired feeling that reading a good story does. And this is why, if you’re at all interested, you should go see it.

Teasers ahead! Here are some small details I didn’t touch on:

  • This movie contains between 2 and 4 major deaths. You don’t want any of them.
  • Spider-Man is funny in costume. Consistently funny. So is Gwen.
  • Stan Lee’s cameo is his funniest yet.
  • Flash Thompson gets a small but touching moment of redemption.
  • The 3-D effects aren’t worth the extra money.
  • When Curt Conners’ arm grows back it is really gross/cool.
  • There are two moments involving a single voicemail that will make you tear up.
  • There is a scene after the main cast credits, but it’s pointless. (Unless they only showed us a bit of it in the screening.) There was nothing after the credits themselves.
  • Parker finds himself in a boxing/wrestling ring at one point.
  • There is a sly homage to Tobey Maguire in Gwen’s room.
  • I really liked what they did with Norman Osborn.
  • I also really liked how New York City and the NYPD react to Spider-Man.
  • Gwen Stacy is thrown from a great height at one point in the movie.
  • There is a scene on a bridge.

Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com and can’t wait for you guys to see this.

20 comments
Joseph Kingsmill
1. JFKingsmill16
I understand it's a movie, but why do they continue to have Spiderman take off or lose his mask repeatedly? Batman doesn't do it. Ugh
Charles Moore
2. Shadeofpoe
But let's be honest JFk, who amongst Bruce's friends DON'T know his identity at this point? I mean the only one I can think of is Gordon. Fox, Alfred, Rachel, from what I can tell in the trailer, both Catwoman and Bane figure it out pretty quick. It's like all those College Humor sketches where he just walks around saying "I'm Batman".

The whole secret identity thing just doesn't hold up long in movies, it doesn't help that actors are having to emote while having their faces covered for 50-60% of the movie.
Joseph Kingsmill
3. JFKingsmill16
I don't think Gordon knows and both Bane and Catwoman know because I think they are associated with Rhas Algul (sp). I know they need to be able to emote, it's just a pet peeve.
Chris Lough
4. TorChris
The notions of secret identities and Peter's unmasking(s) are addressed very potently in the movie, actually! There's also a small moment with Peter and Aunt May that tangentially involves this that I hope people debate after they've seen the movie.
Charles Moore
5. Shadeofpoe
Oh I feel you, the ones that always killed me was the superman movies. I mean he goes from wearing glasses to not. At least in the cartoon he got a hair curl, everybody just has to play stupid.

@TorChris Please, oh please don't let it involve a subway car full of people body surfing Pete to safety...
A.J. Bobo
6. Daedylus
And I am now actually excited to see The Amazing Spiderman. Thanks, Chris!
j p
7. sps49
The Avengers was one of the few movies that respected it's source material and was well made. If this one does the same, I may see another movie at the theater this year.
wsull
8. wsull
4 days and counting can't wait hurry up!!!! I fell like I'm about to burst.
Bill Stusser
9. billiam
I'm not sure why people aren't more excited about this movie, it looks amazing (yes, I went there). A reboot is absolutely the right way to go because, let's be honest, Sam Raimi ran the franchise into the ground. I thought the first one was good (not great) and I hated (HATED) the organic web shooters. The other two movies just blew.

My brother and I are lifelong Spiderman fans, we started reading Amazing Spiderman when we were in grade school in the late 70s. The first issue we ever picked up was actually a Lizard story and he became my brother's all time favorite Spider villian. Anyways, we were just talking about how Andrew Garfield is a perfect Peter Parker, something I never thought about Toby Maguire. He (Garfield) has the perfect mix of nerd/hero.

I have liked everything I have seen from this new movie and never had any fears that it was not going to be faithful to the comic books and this review has just uped my excitement. I can't wait!

Also because of this review I am afraid for Gwen. The only way I could be any more afraid for her was if the Green Goblin was the bad guy.
Walker White
10. Walker
This is the first review that I have read that says this film respects the source material. I have read several reviews that say the exact opposite. They say that this film is trying too hard for gritty, Batman realism. This is not what Spiderman is about, and avoiding this is exactly what made Avengers so successful.
wsull
11. politeruin
Well, that is a nice surprise. I hate the artificial web shooters even though they're canon, you can see the dramatic-loss-of-web at a crucial moment coming a mile off. So his little back room project creates a super strong, lightweight, flexible material? Please. Let that stuff stay in the old comics. Still though, looking forward to it.
wsull
12. antares
This film was a slow-paced, badly written catastrophe. There are so many holes in the story that they should have called it "The Amazing Wheel of Swiss Cheese". Wait for the DVD.
wsull
13. litarvan
I can't wait to see this with my son, I bought him a box of spiderman fruit snacks today and he saw that spidey on the box had artificial webshooters. His reaction was "That's not spiderman, his webshooters are fake".
shawn keeling
14. longerwaves
One thing that bothered/bothers me about the Spider-Man movies was/is
the fact that when he gets his 'powers' he can climb a wall with his shoes on (see picture above). I know there is supposed to be a suspension of disbelief, but in the first movie, you literaly see the tiny hairs grow from his fingers that together with his newfound strength, makes him able to climb walls. He then proceeds to COVER THEM UP with shoes. I can buy it when he has his suit on, but plain clothes and skate shoes? REALLY!? I know it's a small thing but it just bothers me.
wsull
15. politeruin
Heh yeah, that's bothered me before as well. You can imagine those small hairs poking through a thin covering over his fingers but what about the soles hmmm? What about the soles! Unless he's holding all his weight on his hands but i'm pretty sure he runs across the side of a building in the first film, meh...suspension of disbelief.
wsull
16. Banner
Hey thanks for one of the most exciting movie reviews I've ever read! Really looking forward to the movie. I remember reading what happen to Gwen in the comics and I can't imagine what they are going to do.
Steven Pattingale
17. Pattingale
Peter usually takes off his shoes for wall crawling in the comics, and there it's established that he sticks to things by something like static cling.
wsull
18. Kartikeya GS
I dunno, the movie would have been good had it not been preceded by three other Spider-man movies, especially since this latest is so damned derivative (which was really distracting, mind you). The entire movie seemed more like a remake than a reboot - the plot elements, character development and overall flow of the film were too close to Tobey's Spider-man to be really engaging.
John Massey
19. subwoofer
Naw, this one was a gooder. Stone and Garfield had a natural chemistry that made this easy to watch. Garfield was also much more in character as a wise cracking Peter Parker.

I do agree with comment #1 about the constant losing of the the mask. It got me down. What is the point of wearing a mask if it slips off all the time. Perhaps velcro?

Definitely worth a watch.

Woof™.
wsull
20. Hassan shaukat spiderman
This is really cool

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