Almost. It was so close. I did like it and although there are many positive points, The Amazing Spider-Man also has a few negative aspects that doesn’t allow it to reach “amazing” status. So close and it could have been the little reboot that could.
First of all, I should start with the fact that I was one of the many that did not understand the need to reboot this franchise. (It really boils down to Marvel rights and money, but…) I loved Raimi‘s vision of Spider-Man (minus 3 which we all know failed miserably–I was brokenhearted ). And I was a fan of Tobey Maguire‘s Peter Parker. Right before I watched the new version, I was still skeptical. If not for the lure of the cast and director Marc Webb (love-love 500 Days of Summer) I would have stayed away.
Then surprisingly I did not hate it! I enjoyed most of it, but overall it failed to totally impress me. The best way, for me, to break this down is comparing them side by side (like the picture below ). It may seem unfair, but I can not help comparing the two. Here are my 10 items of interest.
1. The origin story is more organic in TASM. Andrew Garfield‘s Peter Parker is more awkward (kind of Asperger-like), than Maguire’s nerd-dorky version. And because of that, there is more of a stark contrast between Peter and his alter ego in TASM. Starting as a kid and incorporating his parents’ mysterious death is also a good move.
2. Uncle Ben and Aunt May get an upgrade in TASM. Sorry, Robertson and Harris, but Martin Sheen and Sally Field are awesome.
3. TASM has given Parker more realistic motivations to pursue super skills. SM1 Parker just wanted a sports car to impress Mary Jane, while in TASM he is pursuing justice/revenge that he eventually never achieves (nice touch). I also like that TASM returns to the comic book version of created mechanical web spinners–it adds more obstacles for our web-slinger.
4. SM1 had unrequited love with popular girl, Mary Jane–who then falls for Spider-Man first. TASM has a real, mutual attraction between two kind of geeky kids and Gwen Stacy notices and falls for Peter Parker first. **One of my favorite things about reboot!** It helps that my female crush, Emma Stone, is wonderful and the chemistry between her and Garfield is electric. (No wonder they’re a real couple now.)
5. Director Webb succeeds in creating an intimate, character based narrative that is richer than Raimi’s version. But where Webb falters, in action and scope, Raimi out shines him.
6. SM1 does not forget that New York City is an integral part of the Spider-Man lore. NYC is a character in Raimi’s version, as it should be. I never felt like NYC was a part of TASM–it all felt too generic. There was only one part that showed New Yorker’s love for Spidey, but it was too little of a gesture. (Shout out to Denis Leary for bringing some authentic NY to the screen.)
7. When it come to action sequences, Raimi wins–hands down. Webb is able to create some realistic fight scenes, with some creative moves, but overall it feels small (again, intimate). Raimi was able to reach grand heights–bold, incredible sequences. Sorry, but in a superhero movie that is essential. You want to be impressed! Unfortunately, TASM never reaches that level.
8. The villain. A villain can make or break a film. An awesome villain can save a mediocre film and a weak villain can destroy a strong film. For TASM, the Lizard fails to add the needed awesomeness. I like Rhys Ifans and his performance is okay–but not great. But, the real problem is the plausibility of his character’s arch. I have major issues with how and mostly, why, his story takes the path it does. It must also be mentioned that the CGI effects on the Lizard were a bit cheesy. **Sigh.** At least in SM1, the Green Goblin’s evolution feels real and Willem Dafoe is amazing.
9. What is up with the backpack? Sorry, just had to ask because it was a bit distracting. And other major plot holes–what happen to the evil Oscorp dude? Left on the bridge? And WTF with the after credit scene? Pointless.
(PS I did like the new look of the Spidey suit.)
10. Sequels. Well, let us be honest. SM2 is one of the best superhero movies ever–with one of the best villains ever. Whether TASM 2 can top SM2 is yet to be seen. But maybe…with all the positive aspects it does have and… if they can score a director with a wider scope for action and…they introduce a strong villain–maybe…just maybe they can truly impress me–completely. And this time I will be looking forward to it.