While The Amazing Spider-Man may have lost some people in its dramatic start and the mysterious truth behind the disappearance of Peter Parker’s parents, it quickly makes up for it with the charismatic Andrew Garfield showing us what a loner, lanky nerd is really like in the new millennium.
It doesn’t rely on stereotypes and everyone in the high school doesn’t look like a thirty-year-old’s wearing a backpack. The Amazing Spider-Man did a remarkable job in updating and adapting the classic story into our current day, making Peter Parker more relatable than he’s ever been before. If Parker existed in 2012, he’d be an awkward hipster kid in middle-school who gets asked by the pretty girl to take pictures for her boyfriend’s birthday (despite having the perfect Bieber-cut).
Also, the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey (Spidey’s less famous but technically first, love) is undeniable right off the bat. The audience is rooting for them to kiss during the playful flirtation between these two iconic characters, making us quickly forget about the gorgeous red-head who melted our hearts ten years ago. It’s especially fantastic that we don’t have to wait for the sequel for the love interest to figure out that her man is Spider-Man, because the guy is just way too excited and smitten that he just tells her the second they’re alone on a rooftop.
The scene where Garfield discovers his powers on a train may be a little heavy on the slapstick, but it was a fun shake-up from the now-cliché test-my-new-found-abilities-in-an-alley-jumping-off-rooftops. One of the biggest reasons I like this reboot of Spider-Man so much, is due to the creators’ constant efforts to try new things with a character we know so well, to make something new. It’s great that this Peter Parker actually creates his own web-shooters just like in the comics, that this teenager has an Einstein poster on his wall and scrawls down scientific formulas – it’s not an easy sell but Garfield pulls it off with the clever writing he’s been given (technically he repurposes an already existing material from a high-tech company for his webbing, but still).
Once he’s got those bright-red flashing web-shooters on his wrists and suits up in the spandex, the writing and acting reinforces this smart-alec superhero who plays with his prey, insulting his enemies – exactly what all the nerds were expecting after decades of bad jokes were thrown at octopus-men and giant lizards in the comics; not only to show he’s a teenager who’s having fun, but also as a fighting technique to throw them off-guard. Speaking of overgrown reptiles, the villain of this story is portrayed pretty well by Rhys Ifans. Almost everyone pales in comparison to Dafoe as the villain in Spider-Man (2002), but it’s a solid performance, with wonderful CGI that makes a one-armed scientist mutating into a big, green, mutant-dinosaur, believable next to these fun-loving characters.
It’s just a shame that unlike the incredible follow-up Sam Raimi had in Spider-Man 2 (2004), which some say surpassed the original, Webb failed to create a powerful sequel that kept this creativity and energy going, and save for one or two scenes, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) was critically inferior in so many ways.
Honourable mentions: The fun-banter between Sally Field and Martin Sheen gives fresh new life to Peter Parker’s Aunt and Uncle characters, and whoever came up with the idea to have Garfield googling spider-abilities until all the keys on his computer got stuck to his fingers.
Budget: $230 million
Box Office: $757.9 million
To prepare for his role as Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield studied the movements of spiders and tried to incorporate them as much as he could: “Parker is a boy/spider in terms of how he moves, and not just in the suit.”
Read on for part 1 of Kurt’s retrospective review of Spider-Man (2002).