Durf Reviews: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
“The Amazing Spider-Man” is a reboot that many, myself included, felt was happening too soon. However, the trailers and TV spots got us hyped and many were excited to see it. But was it good, or was it a disappointing and pointless reboot? Read on to find out…
So, did it live up the hype? Read and find out..(It's a little late, but it was requested...)
(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!)
Let’s start by discussing the cast of the movie. The cast is fantastic here. Martin Sheen and Sally Field do a great job as Uncle Ben and Aunt May respectively, despite a lack of much to do in the movie. Chris Zylka does a good job as Flash Thompson, and actually adds a little depth to the character in the small amount of time he is on screen. Captain Stacy is played brilliantly by Denis Leary. Leary plays Stacy with some humor, but also makes him very convincing as a both a father and police officer. It really is too bad we won’t be seeing him in any sequels. Rhys Ifans does a very good job as Curtis Connors/Lizard. You actually believe watching this movie that Ifans is a brilliant scientist that believes in what he is doing. Also you see that Connors is compassionate and caring at times, mostly when he is dealing Peter and talking with him about his parents. He is also brilliant in his portrayal of Connors process of slipping into madness and does a great job of hinting at The Lizard taking over with his little twitches and movements. It is very nuanced and fantastic. The biggest strength of the cast however is the two leads. Andrew Garfield is brilliant as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Garfield does a great job of giving Peter emotional depth and showing us the anguish he goes through after finding out about his parents and after Ben’s death. You can really see the pain he goes through and you feel for him. The genius aspect of Peter is done well here and Garfield is believable as someone who would be that incredibly smart, as well as the nerd/social outcast. As Spider-Man he does a great job delivering the trademark quips of Spider-Man and overall is fantastic. However the best member of this cast is Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Stone is fantastic in everything she is in, but I think she really ratchets it up a notch here. Not only does she look like Gwen brought to life from the comic, but she also nails all of her character traits. She is more than believable as a genius and actually is very vital to the plot in that regard. The trademark “I’m hot, but don’t really know it” aspect of Gwen is nailed by Stone. Also Stone does a fantastic job of making Gwen friendly and nice, as well as sort of shy and madly in love with Peter. The relationship she has Peter is brilliantly done. Unlike the female leads in the previous Spider-Man movies, Gwen is strong and independent in this movie, and it is refreshing. There really aren’t enough words for me to describe how much I loved this performance.
There are some other great things about this movie besides the cast. Once again, Gwen is done well and is actually more important to the plot than the usual love interest just there for Peter to save. The action is pretty good, especially the fight in the school between Spider-Man and The Lizard. That scene is also where we get the greatest Stan Lee cameo yet. Spider-Man has all the defining traits from the comics here. Everything from being a genius to his wisecracks during fights is here. Also, it is great to finally get the web-shooters in this movie. The Lizard is finally used as a villain in a Spider-Man, which is fantastic. I really liked how they made him very intelligent, but also very savage. The story, although not really original, is pretty good and The Lizard’s plan is something right out of the comics.
However, there are several things that don’t work here. The Lizard’s look, although not as bad as I originally thought, is not very good. He does occasionally, and I hate to say this, look like a Goomba from “Super Mario Bros.”, and a lot of times when he talked it just looked silly. Connors’ family is noticeably absent here, which is disappointing because they would have added another interesting dynamic to the character. Also Connors relationship with Peter isn’t very strong. Another thing wrong with The Lizard here is his motivations. He just suddenly wants to turn everybody into lizards without much explanation as to why. Peter’s parents and Uncle Ben’s death are glossed over pretty quick, and don’t have much payoff for the storylines they spawn. Speaking of Uncle Ben, why didn’t we get the “Great Power” line? Peter at times is also kind of a jerk, especially to Ben, May, and Flash. It is completely out of character for him to act that way. Peter having the web-shooters is fantastic, but how did he never run out of web? Even in the comics he ran out of web at really bad times, so why not here? In this movie we get the “Death of Captain Stacy” storyline in a way, but it felt like it was too soon and a waste of a good character. One thing I absolutely hated was the crane scene. That might be the cheesiest and stupidest thing I have ever seen in a movie. There are three other things that need further discussion though: the after credits scene, Dr. Ratha and the numerous dropped plotlines of the movie.
Where to start with the after credits scene? Well, it makes no sense. We get Connors in prison and a man shows up in his cell and asks him if he told Peter about his father. Ok, but how did this guy get in the cell? Was he there before Connors was put in there? It’s not really addressed. And what is it that he didn’t want Connors to tell Peter? Who is this guy? Why does he suddenly disappear? Is he a figment of Connors’ imagination, or is he actually another villain? None of these questions are addressed. Most after credits scenes are designed to be something fun, an easter egg, or a teaser for the next movie(s). They usually make sense though and have a point. This one doesn’t make sense or have an obvious point. Also, no one can tell whether this was an easter egg, a tease, or something fun. My guess is that this guy is some other villain like Electro or Norman Osborn, but can’t be sure. This is not a good after credits scene.
Speaking of characters that make no sense, what was the point of Dr. Ratha? He’s played up as important in the ads for the movie, and in the first half of the film is built up as important. Then after Connors becomes The Lizard for the first time and he pursues Ratha to the bridge, poof! Ratha disappears. Ok, but where did he go? Did Connors kill him? Did he get away? Did he go on vacation to The Bahamas? We get no such answers! He just suddenly up and disappears from the rest of the movie. This just makes his character completely pointless and makes all the build up for his character a waste. Well, I guess it could start a new meme and game called “Where is Ratha?”, but that’s about it. It is just baffling. Also, he constantly references Norman Osborn, but we never see Osborn. So instead of getting Osborn, a very important character to Spider-Man, we get a throwaway character that only references him? That is just stupid. Oh, and Ratha trying to get a cure for Osborn (for what?) is dropped, thus further cementing Ratha as pointless.
Including the Ratha and Osborn stories, there are a ton of dropped storylines and plot pieces. Probably the biggest one is the “Untold Story” involving Peter’s parents. They introduce the storyline with Peter’s parents early on and make it seem really important, especially Richard Parker’s research. Then suddenly the story is dropped. Why put anything in the movie about it then? Without it, the “Untold Story” is just the same origin story that has been told already, so it ceases to be an “Untold Story.” Another big storyline dropping is the Uncle Ben’s killer story. Early on in the movie when Peter first becomes Spider-Man we get a storyline where Peter searches for his uncle’s killer. That is fine, but he doesn’t find him and the storyline is dropped. What was the point of this? Nothing, it’s just another pointless storyline to be dropped at will. One more plot point that is dropped is the Lizard’s Cop Army. The Lizard makes an army by turning the cops into giant lizards like him and this is focused on. It teases that maybe Peter will have to fight them, but unfortunately he doesn’t. In fact, we don’t even see them again until the cure is dispersed and they revert back to human. Why focus on them then, if you aren’t going anywhere with them? The dropped storylines and plot points are extremely frustrating and are the thing that hurts this movie the most. They make the movie feel rushed and unfinished.
So, what are my final thoughts? I do enjoy the film despite its flaws, although it’s not as good as it could have been. It has lots of flaws, and the dropped storylines and plot points make it feel unfinished. The movie is definitely saved by the cast (especially Stone) and by the fact that Spider-Man himself is very faithful (for the most part) to the comics. Even though the reboot happened too soon, it’s pretty good as far as reboots go. I would say it’s better than Spider-Man 3, but not on the same level Spider-Man 1 or 2. Overall, it’s not a bad start to a new series and the sequel will hopefully improve upon this one.
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