I will be the first to admit that it seemed a little too early in my mind for a reboot of Ol' Web-Head's tale. I wondered how much would change, how much would have to be done a second time and how much time I would spend comparing the new Spidey to the old Spidey. But in the end, the question became one of how I could sleep at night knowing that I had denied myself the chance to see one of my favorite Marvel icons on the big screen? The answer: I couldn't.
So, on a hot, humid Thursday afternoon, my family and I and a few extra kids who were told explicitly that I was not to be bothered during the middle of the film for something as inconsequential as bathroom breaks (why do you think we bought you that large drink cup?) hit the theater to see how the Web Slinger's new origin story would fare.
The Plus Side: To start with, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone looked their parts. It was as if Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy had been extracted from the pages of the comic book and placed on the screen through some sort of hokey pseudo-comic-science. Call it corny, but such little details and homages to the original comic characters go a long way in my book.
This reverence to the original tale carries into the story as well. Peter Parker is a geek with purpose again. In Raimi's films, Peter was a science nerd, but it didn't much effect the original story. Webb's version of the tale has Parker making his own web shooters again and battling with the two sides of Dr. Curt Conner's. His ability to think and problem solve and his love of science have a direct relation to the story line. As they should.
Webb also did a better job with the action. There's no plethora of fight scenes, due to the need for character development (the shortcoming of all first in the series films, get used to it) but when Spider-Man does engage with nefarious evil-doers in fisticuffs, it scores big. He uses the webs more, his moves are more acrobatic, he dodges, he jumps. I was reminded of the quality over quantity fight scenes in the original Iron Man. The action doesn't interrupt the story, it enhances it.
And Garfield's Spider-Man is a far bigger smart ass than Maquire's, which is as it should be. For those who read the comics, you know how often Spidey's mouth frustrates friend and foe alike.
Finally, not to be a spoiler but Stan Lee's cameo appearance in this film (you knew he would be in it, right?) is his best yet. That's all I will say.
The Down Side: It's a reboot. What's more it's a a reboot only ten years after the last series began. A lot of the story is stuff you have already watched. You know what happens (for the most part) with Uncle Ben. You know Peter's parents are out of the picture. You know he struggles to use his power for good. Still, the filmmaker cannot just glance over all these details. They have to be done again. So, you sit there watching, comparing in your head how it was done last time. "Do I like this better? Is this more believable?" you ask yourself. You can almost feel the characters avoiding saying the words, "With great power comes great responsibility," and it can be somewhat distracting. Granted all this is more an issue of the timing of the production of the film than anything, but it's there.
Also, be mindful of your kids if you take them to see this. Some of the scenes get a little scary. The group of eight and nine-year-olds I had in tow handled it with hand to their mouths and deep breaths, but more sensitive children may get a bit upset. There is also some language. Not enough to get an R rating, but enough that your kids might react to it, depending upon how strict you are with those sorts of things.
Finally, the extra scene after some of the end credits was one of the more confusing I had ever seen. I like there to be a very specific reveal. At the end of Iron Man 2 you knew Thor was coming. At the end of Thor, you knew Loki was looking to gain control of the cosmic cube. At the end of Iron Man, they already mentioned The Avengers. At the end of The Amazing Spider-Man, I don't know what the hell happened.
The Wrap-Up: Here comes my bold statement. Are you ready? I liked The Amazing Spider-Man better than Sam Raimi's Spider-Man of 2002. There, I said it. Disagree if you will, but it seemed a bit more gritty, dark and real than the older version. The two sit side by side in my mind like Tim Burton's Batman and Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. They each are enjoyable, but in hindsight one seems more like a Hollywood interpretation of a character and the other seems like a legitimate story.
Thinking of spending a few more bucks for the 3D? You'll enjoy the movie without it, but there are several moments, particularly during the action scenes (duh) where it will feel worth it. God ahead and treat yourself.
Thanks for taking the time to read my opinion. Go out and enjoy, true believers.
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