THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Directed by Mark Webb (haha, get it?)
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/The Amazing (or Spectacular or Sensational or Friendly Neighborhood, depending on what you grew up on) Spider-Man
Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy
Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors/The Lizard
Denis Leary as Captain Stacy
Martin Sheen as Ben Parker
A movie like The Amazing Spider-Man takes pretty big risks with the characters it brings alive; nobody outside of comic book readers are likely to know that Gwen Stacy came before Mary Jane Watson…
SIDE NOTE: Good thing, really. How anyone can stand MJ is beyond me.
Movie gets one star already just for not including her in it
……..and no one outside of comic book readers are likely to be really familiar with the Lizard as a Spider-Man villain. He has his complexity, sure; but he lacks the personal connection to Spider-Man that the more famous villains like Green Goblin and Venom do.
Complexity, I tell you.
The love interest and the villain are major characters in a comic book movie. Pulling up two characters that mainstream audiences have never heard of is risky in that sense, but the movie does a great job with them.
There are going to be a lot of comparisons to the previous trilogy of Spider-Man movies here. I do not know if I am qualified to make those comparisons given that on a good day, my memory sucks like Electrolux. Really, the only thing I remember about the three Spider-Man movies with 100% detail was this:
I’ll try, though. First off: Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is infinitely superior to Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker. Mainly because he actually is Peter Parker as opposed to whatever caricature Maguire was playing. ASM Parker has everything Peter Parker should have: the awkwardness, the intelligence, the wisecracks in the face of death, etc. I am fairly sure Maguire’s Parker had these things too, but Garfield’s Parker demonstrates them in a manner that actually feels natural.
The love interest: As opposed to all three Spider-Man movies where Mary Jane was reduced to being the damsel in distress, Gwen is nothing of the sort here. She pretty much cooks up the means to victory, even. Her relationship with Peter is slightly different from the version in the comics, but more or less accurate and Emma Stone is great at the role. The problem with her character, and in fact most of the secondary characters in this movie, is that they are not as developed as they should be. Gwen’s relationship with Peter is not elaborated on. Uncle Ben’s relationship with Peter is not elaborated on. Ditto for Aunt May, Flash Thompson, various elements of the Spider-verse. I get the feeling that this was deliberate in order to avoid rehashing a story that audiences have already heard and seen before, one of the most famous fictional stories to boot, but it still does the film no favors.
I don’t know what to say about the Lizard, honestly. He looks menacing, he acts menacing, he’s menacing in every scene that he’s in. And Curt Connors for the most part is sympathetic enough; he wants his arm back so he’s experimenting with ways to transfer the regenerative abilities of lizards to humans. But then his entire personality takes a U-turn and he becomes some kind of Nazi with a lizard fetish. He believes humans are weak by nature, and the only solution for that weakness is…….turning everyone into lizards. I really don’t know what the thought process behind his motivations were. In the comics Connors’ mind is split into two separate psyches, one being Curt Connors and the other being the Lizard. Sometimes they exist in balance, sometimes it’s Connors’ mind in the Lizard’s body, sometimes it’s the Lizard’s mind in Connor’s body.
I can only assume this is why his motives and character change so much for no particular reason. There’s one scene where he’s in the sewers and he suddenly starts hearing the Lizard’s voice in his head. Where did that come from? At that moment I was reminded of how Norman Osborn started hearing the Goblin’s voice in his head in the first Spider-Man movie. That was done a lot more deliberately, you could see that Norman was slowly losing it. This is just so abrupt.
Can’t have a superhero movie without the hero and the villain beating the crap out of each other, and all of those scenes are terrific. No shaky cam, no dark shadows, no confusion over who’s who.
All in all, this was a decent enough movie. Better than Spider-Man 1 & 3, but not as good as Spider-Man 2.