With the release of this new, slick Spidey reboot, there's been a lot of Sam Raimi bashing with people praising the new film for not being as silly as those early noughties efforts.
I liked those movies!
Well... the first two anyway.
Then again the third one was pretty lol...
My point is these were fun comic-book flicks which, for the most part, got the cartoonish spirit of the comics and brought Spider-Man to us for the first time on the big screen. Sure those movies had their problems and there was a hell of a lot of shark-jumping going on in all of them but Spider-Man was never Marvel's darkest, moodiest character.
One villain was a bird for crying out loud!
An old man bird!
That's freakin' ridiculous.
Raimi delivered good old-fashioned popcorn entertainment. It was goofy but we loved it. Now comes The Amazing Spider-Man, a reboot with a brand new cast, a brand new approach and brand new everything. This time, we concern ourselves a bit more with Peter Parker's backstory, his parents' death etc. It's an origins story (AGAIN?!) but we're going at it a different way (oh good...). The love interest this time is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and clearly some efforts were made to ensure this character would not just be yet another Mary Jane-style damsel in distress. Andrew Garfield's Parker is much less whiny than Tobey Maguire, that's a given, but I do find the guy a tad overrated. That corny grin coupled with that put-on New York accent and those Woody Allen-style stutterings make him a tad grating at times but on the whole he does really well, especially in the action scenes, and handles the more dramatic scenes convincingly.
Except for the crying.
Never make him cry again please.
You've got a good supporting cast with Martin Sheen as the best Uncle Ben you could ever hope for and Rhys Ifans as our villainous Lizard (aka Curt Connors). The latter doing a great job despite his monster's character design being pretty unimaginative. Frankly, I liked Connors in this but I really didn't like The Lizard's portrayal. It's great to see the character taking center stage for the first time in a live-action movie, don't get me wrong, but I just wish they'd put a tiny bit more effort into making his transformation more of a tragic Jekyll & Hyde event and making him look more like what he's supposed to and less like a super-muscly Goomba from the Super Mario Bros. movie.
The plot is also a bit too macguffin-based, something about some doomsday device which could be used both for good or evil and yet is just sitting there in the bad guy's lab ready to blow at any moment. Shockingly, The Lizard gets his hands on it and plans to turn everyone in New York into lizard mutants. Because why not?
What's with all these doomsday machine scenarios these days, by the way? Spidey (doomsday tubes), The Avengers (doomsday cube), The Dark Knight Rises (doomsday ball)...
Anyway, the film admittedly does get a lot of things right.
The effects are a vast improvement on the original trilogy, the whole thing looking far more polished than previous efforts. The darker elements to the story are welcome and give Spidey's story a bit more depth. Spider-Man himself is more of a piss-taker, toying around with criminals before apprehending them, which is actually much closer to the spirit of the comics. Finally, the film takes itself a tad more seriously and this new, more sensible approach to the source material really helps to make this both a fun and involving comic-book movie.
Sadly, by avoiding a lot of the cliched traps the original films fell into, The Amazing Spider-Man tends to fall into new ones: the doomsday machine thing, random New Yorkers helping Spidey out (crane operators this time lol), some clunky Norman Osborn references, side characters purely there to churn out exposition, mini plot holes here and there, random lizards. All those little things do add up and tend to distract from the action at hand. Also, I gotta say I didn't really care about that teen-romance and the film really wasn't funny when it was trying to be. At least when Raimi wanted a laugh he got a laugh!
Remember James Franco's bump-on-the-head subplot in Spider-Man 3?
Sure you do.
Wait, that was intentionally funny, right?
The humour here just felt forced and the whole film honestly barely got a chuckle out of me.
Overall, I'd actually place The Amazing Spider-Man in between Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. Slightly better than the former but not as creative and fun as the latter. I enjoyed it and I do recommend the movie but I have a feeling that a sequel, which should produce a much better villain and iron out some of the minor flaws, will be the real deal.
A good Summer blockbuster, well worth a look.