As soon as the clock hit 12:01 AM July 3rd, Andrew Garfield swung into theaters everywhere as The Amazing Spider-Man. My buddy Nate Fischer and I are here to breakdown our likes/dislikes regarding the newest Spidey flick.
Here are two miscellaneous tidbits about us:
1 – IMO: The success of the first Spider-Man is the biggest reason why we now can go to the theater and see our favorite superheroes multiple times a summer.
2 – Warning: Fischer is a strong Spidey 3 enthusiast.
Now, I will let my guest have the floor. Take it away Fish!
NF – On its own Spiderman was yet another awesome Marvel movie, and if I hadn’t seen the others I would probably have loved it even more; certainly I would’ve been more excited about it. But having seen the others, I can’t help but compare it to them, especially since to me it feels like they’re still fairly new. When I first heard about the new Spiderman, my first thought wasn’t excitement; it was that it’s too soon to do it, and that weighs on my opinion. On the other hand, the story was truer to what I know, my knowledge being based mostly on the 90’s cartoon (as I was never a comic book junkie) which remains one of my favorite cartoons of all time. (You can watch it all on YouTube, which I did last year, along with all 65 episodes of Conan the Adventurer!)
But enough of that. I’m supposed to be actually reviewing something here… I’ll start with the tone, the mood, the general feel of it. This one was much more serious, more adult, and had better comic relief, all of which was more in tune with what makes a non-comic book movie great. The first Spiderman was quirkier and sillier and definitely more comic bookish, which does have its own charm, and which may be why I consider it at least as good as the new one, if not slightly better. The first better appealed to my inner sense of fantasy, and to my emotions, more so than the new one—at least I remember it as such. The first felt grander and more important. It also felt less real. It’s a fine line to walk between the two. Much like the fine line that separates Defoe and Leary: I like both in their own ways, but Defoe slightly more…even if they are the same person to so many… (Had to get that joke in some where—I can’t believe Horn said he doesn’t see it!)
Beyond how they made me feel, the new movie had a lot going for it. Compared to Mcguire, Garfield has a slightly better look: the lankiness that is Spiderman (which Horn said to me and I agree). His character was also less whiny, less self-pitying (although Spidey has always been those things, but let’s face it: that gets annoying). Garfield’s Spidey has a wit and a fun-factor far beyond Mcguire’s, and Garfield’s Spidey’s general approach to facing the world is simply less painful to watch. The movie may be more serious, but his character is less serious, and not completely bogged down by responsibility to the point where he can’t have fun. Speaking of fun and character differences, the whole relationship with Stone’s Gwen is way more gratifying than Mcguire’s Spiderman to Dunst’s Mary Jane. In general, Stone’s Gwen was a cool character: smart, fun, capable. Dunst’s MJ was none of those things, and she generally brought more problems to Spiderman’s life than good. Dunst’s MJ had nothing going for her, beyond the fact that Spiderman was always in love with her. I look forward to seeing the new relationship move forward, or more likely end in Gwen’s death at the hands of the Green Goblin. I mistakenly told Riggleman at the movie that she becomes Black Cat—what was I thinking? But that brings me to my next and final words.
I hope to see Black Cat, certainly more than seeing MJ in the sequels. And more than anything I hope to see more of Dr. Connors in his role in helping Spiderman. Because of where the story might go from here, I have high hopes that the newer Spiderman movies will outshine the old ones overall, and for those reasons believe that in the end I’ll come to prefer the new ones. Most of all I’d like to see Spiderman mutate into the 8-legged monster, after which Dr. Connors helps to cure him.
MH – I was not in the camp that believed it was “too soon” for a reboot of the Spidey series, and thank god the people in charge of this project didn’t feel that way either, because The Amazing Spider-Man was simply that: Amazing. Sony has the rights to Spidey and they were never going to just sit on Marvel’s most recognizable property during this boom of superhero movie madness. So let’s get down to business!
To give a quick synopsis, here are the ratings I gave each of the first three Spidey films on IMDb:
Spidey 1 – 9
Spidey 2 – 8
Spidey 3 – 5
This Spidey cut the nerdy/corky and kept the comedy, which I feel enhanced the film. Throughout the Sam Raimi films, there are multiple scenes that are unneeded and lengthy that try to convey Peter’s corniness/incredibly bad luck, and PLEASE let’s not dive into the whole Spidey 3 emo disaster. To Marc Webb’s credit, he didn’t stray from the plot and avoided such scenes. It’s basic math really – when you take away the negatives, all you have left are the positives.
Simply put, the cast for the Amazing Spider-Man was just better than the cast for the previous series, and they executed every aspect of this movie to a T.
Not wanting to give away my immense delight to everyone I went with, I had a very difficult time leaving the theater with a straight face. I wanted to gauge how everyone else felt before I gave it huge props. One of my closest friends – Matt Riggleman, is notoriously hard to please at the movies, and he even immediately acknowledged The Amazing Spider-Man with high praise.
Like I said, every aspect of this movie was great. From the tone, to the chemistry between all of the characters. Everything had a purpose, and nothing detracted away from the plot. One of my favorite parts of the film was Peter’s realization of having great power, and how that came with the greater responsibilities without Uncle Ben having to actually having to state it. Slowly escalating from stopping random criminals and car thieves searching for Uncle Ben’s killer, to his first encounter with The Lizard on the bridge. Even though it took the disagreement with Gwen’s father over dinner right before his encounter with the Lizard to help him realize and fully understand his path.
The allure of this movie compared to the other 3 is the key for any great story – believable characters, not over the top exaggerations. Acknowledging that Peter longed to find out something, anything about his father, that there was an unsolved tension with his parents leaving him with his aunt and uncle. Not just starting the story with Peter living with his very nice aunt and uncle who are model guardians. It spoke volumes immediately about where this story is headed. Not just a kid who got bit by a spider. For me, the whole premise was set up perfectly. That being said, maybe the producers had to go through Spider-Man 1, 2, and 3 to realize that?
Bottom line: The Amazing Spider-Man now sits along side The Avengers and The Dark Knight – 1a, 1b, and 1c. It is almost a crime to actually sit down, split hairs, and place one above the other. I give the new Spidey two thumbs up, 5 out of 5, however you want to put it. I have rated 987 movies on IMDb and only rated 20 movies 10 out of 10 stars. The Amazing Spider-Man has now pushed that total to 21.