The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

A brief respite from fighting a lizard.

It’s summertime and Columbia continues with the blockbuster superhero movies. Spider-Man (2002) gets remade into The Amazing Spider-Man. Some remakes are more successful than others, so how did The Amazing Spider-Man hold up?

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a nerd who gets bullied a lot. Not only that, but his parents disappeared under very mysterious circumstances when he was a child. While trying to investigate their disappearance, Peter sneaks into an Oscorp lab facility and gets bitten by a mutated spider. In the meantime, Dr. Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans) experiments with gene splicing in order to regenerate his missing arm.

Already when I first heard of this movie in its pre-release stages, I felt it was simply too soon for a Spider-Man remake. Since The Amazing Spider-Man also explores the origins of the web slinging hero, it tread on familiar territory, such as the death of Ben Parker (Martin Sheen in this iteration) at the hands of a robber that Peter chose to ignore out of apathy.

That said, I thought overall the cast turned in some fine performances. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy was by and far a superior heroine to Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson. I guess it’s to be expected that Gwen was more proactive since Stone is known for playing very strong female leads, while Dunst’s MJ pretty much spent not one, but three movies just screaming and waiting for Spider-Man to save her.

Garfield did a decent job as the titular hero. In general, I liked the treatment of the man under the mask, especially as he was getting used to his new abilities. We see him relishing the ability to dominate the same bully who was dominating him up until then. We see him unable to control his own reflexive tendency to defend himself or his own strength.

That said, I thought the biggest weakness of The Amazing Spider-Man was its villain. To a certain extent, the Lizard seemed like an attempt to sort of be another Green Goblin as both Dr. Connors and Dr. Osborn in the first movie were experimenting with performance-enhancing chemicals and wound up losing their minds to it. Still, Dr. Connors completely lacked the emotional punch that made Willem Dafoe’s Osborn/Goblin such a force in the original film.

Similarly, I felt it was a little too easy for Peter to lead a normal life while dating Gwen, while her father (Denis Leary) was an NYPD captain organizing a manhunt for Spider-Man. That entire subplot could have been more dramatic than it ultimately turned out to be.

In general, I felt The Amazing Spider-Man would have been more interesting if the challenges Peter/Spidey had to face were….a bit more challenging. The movie featured great action scenes with amazing special effects, but it generally wasn’t as emotionally engaging as it should have been. I think a lot of it had to do with how the movie ends with a very obvious hint to a sequel, which will be made as The Amazing Spider-Man is doing quite Amazingly at the box office; there was an entire subplot that wasn’t cleared up and was hinted to be a major part of this followup.

Overall, as a superhero movie, The Amazing Spider-Man was clearly leaning more toward the fun factor of The Avengers than it was toward the drama in The Dark Knight (2008), but was neither here nor there. I think if the movie tried to be more dramatic, it would have been better, but the original Spider-Man was plenty dramatic. Thus, I maintain it is still too soon for a Spider-Man remake.

Score: 2.5/4