I hope it’s not too late to post a review right now. Most likely it is. Before I begin, let me say that Spider-Man is my favorite comic-book superhero and Spider-Man 2 is one of my favorite movies, so part of me was excited to watch this film.
Peter Parker is a high-school outcast when suddenly he’s bitten by a genetically engineered spider. He eventually becomes Manhattan’s vigilante: Spider-Man. I feel the need to primarily make comparisons with the first Spider-Man (2002), because it feels like you can’t talk about this film without mentioning the previous one, so I’ll mainly talk about this film in terms of a reboot. Even as a stand-alone film, there are comparisons to the previous franchise (especially the first movie) that I can’t overlook.
One of the first notable differences is the two Peter Parkers. Let’s see both old and new Peter side-by-side. Toby Maguire’s Peter focused on the more vulnerable and slightly sensitive side of Peter. Aunt May was played by an older woman in that film (around her 70s), so taking care of his aunt was almost like taking care of a grandmother and gave him more stress in his double life. Even if he had less time as Spidey and enough time for himself, he also needed that time to look after his aunt’s well being and make sure she didn’t feel alone. Andrew Garfield’s Peter focused more on the geeky side of Peter: he’s a very intelligent but socially awkward teenager at the same time. Because Aunt May’s played by a woman around her 60s (though she acts as if she’s around her 50s), she acts more like an over-protective mother. Especially after Uncle Ben’s recent death, she’s worries about where Peter is and what he’s doing late at night, so Peter struggles even more by trying to keep a secret from her without her getting preoccupied. Both of these Peter’s are great. These are two different sides of Peter Parker, but it’s still Peter Parker, and as long as we’re able to understand the stress this character’s going through, we’ll sympathize and understand him even more. As Spidey himself, Garfield’s performance is closer to the original comic-book: giving out funny one-liners, serious but funny when he needs to be. In terms of movement, the old Spidey felt more spider-like (the movements in the first movie was done a bit poorly because of the special effects, but the second one improved that a lot), but the new Spidey was still very agile and fast in contrast to the bulky Lizard. Although the update I really liked with the new Peter was that they emphasised his brainy and scientific side much more than the previous Peter (except Spider-Man 2 showed his scientific side a bit more than the original film). I am glad they emphasized his love for science much more and that they established that he has a good experience with science and technology. That also includes using technology slightly more (the internet, a cell phone, etc) and knowing how to build a few gadgets, including his web-shooters. But even with that difference, both Peters are very good and I like the both equally. If I had to pick a favorite Peter Parker in any adaptation, I’d pick the Peter from The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series (in my opinion the best Spider-Man TV adaptation). He keeps a perfect balance between these two Peters/Spider-Mans.
Speaking of which, the first Spider-Man’s first act was Peter’s origin story, so the origin was slightly rushed and was probably one of the reasons why his web-shooters were replaced with organic web. In that case, The Amazing Spider-Man is the origin story as a whole, so the film not only takes its time for Peter to develop his web-shooters, but we actually see how he develops his physical skills as well. At first it takes a while for him to get a grasp of his own super-strength but gets the hang of it later. I liked that it took advantage of its pace, and in a clever way. As part of the story and its pace, at first Peter wants revenge from the guy who killed his uncle, but eventually his thirst for revenge shifts from an act of protecting people. In that sense, the origin story was done better than the first film, but I still like how both films handled the origins slightly differently. This film took a bit of the Batman Begins approach in its story. Thematically and in respect to the original source material both films are equally strong. Both these films focus on the idea of vulnerability and what one does when they receive a certain new power or become much stronger than others.
Anything else? I prefer the love interest in the new film. Gwen Stacey’s a more supportive and a much more developed character, and the romance is very believable and cute (near perfect). I really liked Emma Stone in that role, and it helped that Garfield and Stone were dating in real life. Just to bring up, Mary Jane from the old film and her romance with Peter wasn’t really developed enough in the first film, but it was far improved in the second one. If there’s anything the Sam Rami trilogy definitely did far better than the reboot is the music. Danny Elfman’s score is outstanding and I honestly didn’t like the music in The Amazing Spider-Man. It was a mess for me.
Oh! One last thing! I prefer the costume from the old movie. The material and whole texture just looks fantastic and the design is exactly like the costume from the original comics. I liked how in the old version Peter was inspired by comic-books and how he designed his costume to look like a superhero (but how did he manage to make such a perfect costume? Or get the right materials?) while the new version also has a clever way of explaining Peter’s costume, but I didn’t like the material and I didn’t like the lenses, even though it’s more realistic and a more practical suit. Though I did like the web-shooters and how they glowed red in the dark whenever shot. It was really cool. But generally speaking, where exactly does Peter Parker get all the materials to make his costume? Oh well. To wrap-up, Spider-Man felt like a comic book brought to life, while The Amazing Spider-Man took its tone a bit more realistically (except the Lizard’s evil plot was a bit Saturday-morning-cartoony). Enough comparing.
Something that no other Spider-Man adaptation had ever done (if I’m wrong, please tell me) was to bring up Peter’s parents. I prefer it to not have Peter’s parents revealed, as it’s more of a mystery floating in the background, but this films turns it into a mystery essential to the main plot. I think the mystery will be stretched much further in the second film and it did grab my attention in that respect. Although the mystery’s more about the father than it is about the mother, so why include both? I know the father left Peter, but the mother came along? Why did she leave as well if it’s only about the father and HIS experiments? I guess it’ll be explained in the next film. What else did I like? I liked the action scenes. They were ok.
Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man is an entertaining movie. I don’t want to decide which of the two Spider-Man films I prefer because I like both, but if someone forced me to make a decision, I think I’d go with the new version: looking at the first Spider-Man on its own, it has a lot of flaws story-wise, while The Amazing Spider-Man has a few elements much improved from the first film. I won’t get to all that stuff or else the review will become too long. Still, Spider-Man 2 is the best Spidey film. Would I watch the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man? Sure. With a good set-up and good writing, they’ll probably make a good sequel. I’m just gonna have to wait and see for myself. One thing I hope is that in the next film J.K. Simmons reprises his role as J. Jonah Jameson! He’s the best character in the Rami films! At least I hope they find someone as good as him, but I’d be really surprised and happy if he played Jameson again!