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Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

July 4, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man – A Sony Pictures’ Release

Release Date: July 3rd, 2012

Rated PG for frightening scenes and violence

Running time: 136 minutes

Marc Webb (dir.)

James Vanderbilt (screenplay and story)

Alvin Sargent (screenplay)

Steve Kloves (screenplay)

Based on the Marvel comic books by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

James Horner (music)

Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy

Rhys Ifans as The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors

Denis Leary as Captain Stacy

Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben

Sally Field as Aunt May

Irrfan Khan as Rajit Ratha

Campbell Scott as Richard Parker


©Sony Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) in The Amazing Spider-Man.

Our reviews below:


The Amazing Spider-Man Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Although some might argue that we didn’t need a reboot only ten years after director Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire first brought the masked superhero to the big screen, The Amazing Spider-Man is a thrilling and emotionally resonant summer blockbuster.  Directed by the aptly named Marc Webb, this is a remake and a reboot that works quite well on its own.

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a high schooler, still grieving the death of his parents and living with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen).  Determined to solve the mystery of his late father Richard Parker’s (Campbell Scott) research, he sneaks into Oscorp Laboratories where Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) is working on an interspecies cure to regenerate missing limbs and cure weakness in society.  Bitten by a genetically enhanced spider, Peter Parker develops superpowers and becomes a masked superhero.  Peter also falls for his classmate Gwen (Emma Stone), who’s father NYPD Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) is less than pleased with Spider-Man’s vigilante justice.

The special effects are seamless as Spider-Man swings through the New York skyline, and the action sequences are dazzling, particularly a moving rescue on the edge of a bridge.  But an equal amount of time is spent developing the characters, who are brought to life by the strong performances.  Andrew Garfield is excellent in the leading role, perfectly displaying the humanity beneath the hero.  He is confidant on the outside but vulnerable on the inside, and shares a great on screen chemistry with the wonderful Emma Stone.  Rhys Ifans makes the perfect adversary, bringing slimy substance to his transformations into The Lizard.

I quite liked the first three Spider-Man films starring Tobey Maguire, particularly the second one which still stands as one of the best sequels of all time.  But The Amazing Spider-Man follows a different thread of the Marvel comics and offers a fresh take on the origin story, allowing it to stand proudly alongside the first three films as an exciting start to a very promising new franchise.


The Amazing Spider-Man Review by Erin V.  

**** (out of 4)

A new take on Spiderman is now in theatres.  This version, The Amazing Spider-Man, features an appropriately younger seeming Peter Parker played by Andrew Garfield.

When the film opens, we meet 4-year-old Peter (played at this age by Max Charles), playing hide and seek with his parents, when suddenly they are forced to flee their home and Peter is dropped off at his Aunt (Sally Field) and Uncle’s (Martin Sheen) place, never to see his parents again.  Cut forward to present day about 10 years later.  Still living with his Aunt and Uncle, Peter (now Andrew Garfield) is now finishing up high school, getting very good grades, but still filled with confusion and angst over the fact that his parents never came back for him.  After finding clues to his parents former life, the trail leads him to the scientific research facilities at Oscorp, where a tour is being held by his classmate and intern there, Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone).  While leaving the group to snoop around the facilities himself, he accidentally finds himself in a lab where modified spiders are being experimented on – and you can guess what happens here.

As you can see from the trailers, the villain here is The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who heads up the cross-species program at Oscorp.  The interesting thing is, his transformation doesn’t even come in until after an hour into the film.  The first hour of the two hour, seventeen minute film is mostly character development – of all the characters.  We get a hint at everyone’s motivation here, which makes it easier to become invested by the end.  I’m not going to tell too much more.

Garfield, despite being in his late twenties still passes off as a final year highschooler.  I think this is largely due to the way he played the character, with very teenage sensibilities coming through.  Garfield’s Parker is at the same time both vulnerable and confident – and he plays the part to perfection.  I found him to be very relatable and liked him a lot in this.  It is also clear from the way Parker’s character is written here, that even before his transformation to Spiderman, he may be quieter but he has no problems standing up for himself or others.  This made him taking on the Spidey role very believable.  His arc comes from realizing who he is Spiderman for, and why, and dealing with his own conflicted feelings along the way.  The rest of the actors also all worked very well, in particular Emma Stone, who’s Gwen Stacy is actually an interesting and strong character that has a real role to play right through to the climax.  The chemistry between Garfield and Stone on screen is also very believable.  Both have the teenage thing down pat and while look a little older can pass.

The special effects are very good here, and the suit design (by Cirque du Soleil) is very nice.  A lot of this film takes place at night or dark locations – in particular the climactic scenes, so I’m not sure how much the 3D that the film is also presented in would dim the picture (I saw this in 2D).  That being said though, there would probably be some nice moments with the extra dimension, although the film certainly more than holds up without it.  The score by James Horner is also well done, using interesting touches and times, and fitting the mood of the film, while not falling into ‘superhero clichés’ all the time.

I’d like to make a brief note that I liked all three of the other Spiderman films as well, and the second one is still one of the best sequels out there for a film.  For those worried that this will just be a rehashing of a story already told well – it’s not.  Instead, The Amazing Spider-Man works off of other threads in the Spidey universe to give us a fresh take.  The two film versions we’ve gotten also have very different takes on the same character.  There’s this, on top of the fact that Garfield makes Parker his own, so much so that we forget the character has been played before – for arguments sake, you could say that this character is the same in name and situations only.

After a great start to the summer season with The Avengers (also based on a Marvel Comic), and DC’s The Dark Knight Rises coming out later this month, it looks like we could easily be going three for three in terms of these blockbuster comic book movies.  The Amazing Spider-Man is definitely worth seeing and will be enjoyed by those 11-12 onward.  It looks great on the big screen and has a well told story to boot.  I actually really loved this film.  It’s a solid piece of work through and through.


The Amazing Spider-Man Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Rebooting the excellent Spider-Man trilogy from a few years back, The Amazing Spider-Man gives a fresh new take on the masked hero’s origins.  Everyone is familiar with the story of how Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is an orphan raised by his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen).  He gets bitten by a genetically modified spider and winds up with superpowers.

However, The Amazing Spider-Man is not a copy of the original.  Andrew Garfield is perfect as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, capturing every complex emotion perfectly.  In this version, he falls in love with classmate Gwen Stacy (wonderfully played by Emma Stone), who along with being the head of the school science team, is also the daughter of police captain George Stacy (Denis Leary), who misinterprets Spider-Man’s community service.

The villain this time is Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans), whose efforts to remove his disability involves injecting himself with lizard DNA, resulting in disaster.  In an age of “designer babies” and “cure autism” movements, I really liked the message of accepting differences.  I appreciated the bioethical debates this film presents about nimble testing, the creation of chimera, genetic engineering and the drive to bioengineer a “perfect” society.

The special effects are quite realistic, from the smallest spider to the largest chase sequences.  Cirque du Soleil created the Spider-Man suit, which looks great.  The whole film is a lot of fun, with some sombre and sweet moments as well.  The Amazing Spider-Man is definitely worth seeing.


The Amazing Spider-Man Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Filmmakers always take a chance when a fan favourite like the Spider-man series is made into yet another movie.  Director Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man does justice to Stan Lee and Marvel’s original story.

The story remains essentially the same with teenager Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) losing his scientist parents at an early age and growing up with his beloved Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field).  Peter tragically loses Uncle Ben and  gets bitten by a genetically altered spider, developing superpowers and transforming into the crime fighting Spider-Man.

What’s different about The Amazing Spider-Man from the previous movies is the decision to focus on Peter Parker as a teenager still in high school.  Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of the awkward, vulnerable and angry teen exploring the limits of his new powers is completely believable.  He is Spider-Man.  His love interest this time is fellow high schooler Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), daughter of the police chief George Stacy (Denis Leary).  The on-screen chemistry between Peter and Gwen feels genuine and sweet.

Oscorp Laboratories head scientist, Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans) is an interesting character to watch as he moves into mad scientist territory with his quest to eliminate imperfections and regenerate his own missing arm.  His transformation into The Lizard is nicely done is terms of special effects.  The subsequent battles between Spider-man and The Lizard are really fun to watch.  The visual effects in this movie are excellent.

The Amazing Spider-Man is a well told story.  There is a lot of character development along with the excellent action scenes.  There is a sense of fun along with the drama.  The acting is strong, especially from Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.  This Spider-Man has a different feel from previous ones.  With striking visual effects, a strong score by james Horner and a fun cameo by the one and only Stan Lee, The Amazing Spider-Man is a strong addition to the Marvel movie collection.  Stay through the end credits for a hint at a sequel.


The Amazing Spider-Man Review by Tony

**** (out of 4)

The Amazing Spider-Man is a reboot of the franchise starring Andrew Garfield in the title role (Peter Parker) and Emma Stone as his sweetheart Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) who happens to be the daughter of the New York police captain (Denis Leary) trying to catch him. The back story shows how little Peter was left with his aunt and uncle (Sally Field and Martin Sheen) by his parents who were then reported killed in a plane crash.

Now in high school, Peter discovers notes hidden by his father Richard (Campbell Scott) that could make interspecies genetic transplants possible. Richard’s former colleague Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) at the Oscorp company has continued the research, with Gwen as his intern, under the supervision of his boss (Irrfan Khan). While snooping around Oscorp, Peter is bitten by a spider that gives him his powers. Meanwhile, Connors injects lizard DNA into himself to regenerate his lost right arm, turning into a fierce lizard wreaking havoc on the city.

Compared with the previous trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, The Amazing Spider-Man generally has a better cast, a more human story and updated special effects, maintaining a high level of interest and suspense throughout its 136 minute running time while taking the franchise in a new direction. Watch for the usual Marvel cameo of Stan Lee (in headphones) and a teaser for the sequel during the closing credits (after most of the audience has left).


Consensus: Thrilling and emotionally engaging, director Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man is anchored by excellent leading performances from Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as well as impressive special effects.  ***3/4 (Out of 4)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather Von Zuben permalink
    July 4, 2012 9:41 am

    We all loved this movie and thought that the Stan Lee cameo was very funny. We have learned from you to stay through the credits so we did see the teaser for the nest film and now are all trying to figure out who will be the next villan. Excellent movie!!!


    • July 4, 2012 1:53 pm

      So glad you liked it as much as we did! Have to agree that the Stan Lee cameo is easily one of the best yet and the end credits scene is such an intriguing set up to the sequel…

      As always, thanks for reading and sharing you thoughts!

      -John C.


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