The Amazing Spider-Man reboots the Spider-Man film franchise with a new director and a star-studded cast. But does having an all-new, all-different Spider-Man really make it amazing?

Directed by: Marc Webb
Written by: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field
Edited by: Alan Edward Bell, Pietro Scalia
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Produced by: Avi Arad, Laura Ziskin, Matt Tolmach
Rated PG-13

Previously, in Spider-Man movies: Reboots are all the rage these days. What a drag the James Bond films would have been if the writers had to redo an origin story every time 007’s shoes were filled by a different actor. Rather than trying to avoid this trap, The Amazing Spider-Man takes the origin story to the hilt, taking up seemingly half of the 2 hour and 16 minute runtime. The result is a mostly competent, but sometimes unsatisfying, superhero story.


If you’re going to reboot a franchise, there had better be a convincing reason (Batman & Robin, I’m looking at you). In The Amazing Spider-Man, there are a few variations on the theme played in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film – the time go-around, Peter Parker builds his webshooters, Uncle Ben’s death is a little less random (owing more to Peter’s teen petulance), and we actually get to briefly meet the Parker parents. But so many of these beats are expected and familiar that it would have been better if the origin had been disposed of in fifteen minutes rather than fifty. Half of the movie is given over to a story that rehashes a film barely a decade old, while the back half is a paint-by-numbers actioner with an unengaging antagonist. The Lizard is too predictable a villain. His change from distracted scientist to evil megalomaniac carries little drama, even as his vile plot is telegraphed from the first moment he appears on screen. The script even lampshades a device that has no other possible purpose than to serve as the focal point for a supervillainous plot. What kind of guy keeps that in his lab? Curt Connors should be a tragic figure; in this script, he is merely another supercilious mad scientist. Even the dramatic twist at the end recapitulates the “Hey, we’re all Noo Yawkers” bit from the first film. The Amazing Spider-Man’s script does not distinguish itself from its predecessor to separate itself from what came prior to justify a reboot.

Clocking in over 2 hours, The Amazing Spider-Man also suffers from slack editing and an unbalanced tone. With the classic character of Spider-Man, there needs to be a balance between the angst and the joy, between the problems of everyday existence and the exultation of a heroic life. Andrew Garfield’s cocky interpretation of Peter Parker never matches the sublime geekiness of Tobey Maguire’s portrayal, trending as it does towards petulance and whininess. This version of Peter Parker comes off almost like a bully at times, missing the nerdy everyman that is core to the character. There is an attempt to massage these factors into a compelling character arc, but by dwelling too much on the darkness, the film ends up feeling leaden and dour. I was similarly unenamored with Rhys Ifans’ Curt Connors, who exuded too much menace from the start to engender much sympathy as a tortured villain. Guy just creeped me out, what can I say?


Appropriately named director Marc Webb (har!) is best known for (500) Days of Summer, but the dude can direct action. The fight scenes were exciting, comprehensible, and imaginative – the way the webshooters are used throughout the film is fantastic. Some of the best parts of the film consist of Peter Parker learning how to deal with his super strength and spider grip; it humorously makes super-powers actually look unappealing. Emma Stone adds to an impressive resume of work with her portrayal of Gwen Stacy. She plays Stacy smart yet vulnerable, emotionally relatable and full of depth. In the comics, I’ve always been a Mary Jane man, but when compared to the Raimi films, it’s Stone’s Gwen Stacy all the way. Denis Leary is also excellent in a key role as Gwen’s police captain father. He brings a necessary energy to a part that could’ve easily been a hectoring, one-note character. Martin Sheen and Sally Field round out the field of great actors doing great jobs as Uncle Ben and Aunt May. If these talents were coupled to a better script and tighter storytelling, The Amazing Spider-Man could have been a five star film.


Comic book movies reached their apex with The Avengers this spring. There are enough films adapted from comics these days that fans can easily pick and choose, forcing super hero filmmakers to elevate their game that much more. Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man does not reach the dizzying heights of The Avengers, The Dark Knight, or X-Men: First Class. It entertains, but does not quite earn the “amazing” descriptor. Lastly, a note about the 3D gimmickry. I elected to see this film in 3D since I hoped there might be a few exhilarating web-slinging sequences that would make the upgrade worthwhile. While those sequences did exist, they were few and woefully short and there was little else to necessitate the 3D experience. I suggest enjoying the film with your regular, human eyes. The Amazing Spider-Man swings its way to a respectable, if not stellar, three out of five stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆


About Author

George Chimples comes from the far future, where comics are outlawed and only outlaws read comics. In an effort to prevent that horrible dystopia from ever coming into being, he has bravely traveled to the past in an attempt to change the future by ensuring that comics are good. Please do not talk to him about grandfather paradoxes. He likes his comics to be witty, trashy fun with slightly less pulp than a freshly squeezed glass of OJ. George’s favorite comic writers are Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison, while his preferred artists are Guy Davis and Chris Bachalo, He loves superheroes, but also enjoys horror, science fiction, and war comics. You can follow him @TheChimples on Twitter for his ramblings regarding comics, Cleveland sports, and nonsense.


  1. Very good review. The only other movie that you mentioned at the end as being stellar that I disagree with is “X-Men: First Class” which I am probably in the minority of fan boys that didn’t like it. Based on the reviews I’ve heard so far I’ll end up getting this on DVD and skipping the first hour to go right to the action scenes. I’ll save my pennies for “The Dark Knight Rises” and anxiously await the series sequels to “The Avengers” (Iron Man III, Thor II, Avengers II and hopefully Captain America II). At least part of this film looks more promising than the atrocity that seems to be coming in the new “Superman” movie.

  2. I feel that Sam Raimi made such a mess of the third movie in the previous trilogy that a reboot was necessary. Yes, this is another origin story in part, but done very well. If Raimi had stayed on for a 4th movie, I would not have gone to see it. Amazing Spiderman is definitely worth seeing in the theater.

  3. I concur with TaZ about the “X-Men: First Class” not being all that stellar. The acting from James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender was great, but overall I was unthrilled by it.

    The 3D on the film was quite lackluster. I ended up getting free 3D tickets to a showing on the 4th due to the movie that my girlfriend and I wanted to see being cancelled (stupid AC in that one auditorium crapping out). After the film, we counted only three instances where we really noticed the 3D effects, and one of those was while the camera was panning over rooftops. An antenna on top of one of the buildings jumped out at you for no apparent reason other than to say, “Look! 3D!”

    As I said in the talkback post, I think the cast was what really pulled this movie through. While I liked Garfield’s Parker more than Maguire’s, I think it was the supporting cast that really made this movie.

  4. Origin stories should probably just be left out of movie adaption of comics. The suspension of disbelief required for the superpowers should be enough to overcome their absence. Just start the film with a fight that demos the power set and establishes his personality and move on to the major story.

  5. I saw it last night with Mrs. It was just dull. I did like the characters alot. I kinda dug the childish Peter Parker. I really liked The Lizard. He seemed messed up from the get go and it felt right. It was just another Origin we saw a few years back. Nothing really new. Just dull. It would have been better if there was alot more action and we see “The Origin” in 4-5 min flashbacks. See the Oz Corp jacket and have a quickflash back of him going there and getting bit. Have him piece together who The Lizard is…then piece together what the Spider was based on what he Knows about Doc Conners. Instead we get the same ole same ole of testing powers, hero being confused, and making costumes. It had some parts that was REALLY good (Scene with Kid during the Lizards first attack and how that helps him later was Epic and sooo Spider Man), but over all it was just so dull.

  6. j_Michael_t on

    3 out of 5 is exactly where it should be. It was enjoyable but didnt break new ground; it was fun but not awesome; it had good lines but wasn’t powerfully scripted; the way Spidey used the webshooters was indeed fantastic but that’s about all that was ‘amazing’… I sort of understand the need for a recap of the hero’s origin for a new generation of moviegoers, but it really hurts to have to watch that all over again (especially when, as pointed out in the review, the retelling takes up a significant part of the movie).

    I would recommend you go watch it (and absolutely not in 3D) if you have the money and time to spend. Otherwise, wait for it to come out on DVD :)

    • j_Michael_t on


      Stan Lee’s cameo was funny as usual. And who these days leaves a superhero movie before the credits roll???

  7. finally had a chance to go see it. I agree with nearly everything you said. But will add that the aforementioned I[heart]NY scene was THE WORST!

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