Movie Review: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

Is it sacrilegious to remake a Sam Raimi film? The question isn’t as ridiculous as it might first sound. Imagine if some upstart filmmaker tried his hand at Evil Dead: II, Rebooted. Such audacity would surely be met with righteous indignation the world over, and a handful of us might even issue a fatwa, forcing said blasphemer into a Rushdie-style hiatus from public life. But that’s obviously an extreme example.  Putting This is Spinal Tap to one side, Evil Dead II might be the greatest artistic creation of the 20th Century. And of course, Raimi’s follow-up Armies of Darkness was pure dreck – nevermind what all you loser fanboys have to say about it – so we know that Raimi’s oeuvre doesn’t quite deserve a presumption of divine perfection.

With respect to Raimi’s “Spiderman” trilogy, we are dealing with, well, just “Spiderman”. So the stakes are surely lower. And of course, Spiderman was Marvel’s creation, not Raimi’s.  Sam was hired as the director. So you put all these pieces together and conclude that yes, it is theoretically possible to remake Spiderman without offending the cosmos.  Sony and Marc Webb have given it a try.

But is it too soon? We did digest 3 different incarnations of the film in the first decade of this century. Wouldn’t it have been better to wait another decade or two? The only way to answer this question is to review Raimi’s product from the last 10 years. And here, dear reader, I run into a problem. For to be totally honest, I simply don’t remember the earlier films all that well. I vaguely recall that one of the first two films was pretty good, and the other was sort of blah. (I never saw the 3rd, which I’m told was the worst). I know I hated the Green Goblin – particularly his dialogue, but not only that – and I have this vivid memory of Kirsten Dunst’s giant mug on the big screen, and me observing, “Boy, she sure has bad teeth”. So I’m thinking I disliked the first installment, and liked the second. But who really knows? (I tried to jog my memory by watching some of the first two films again, but since AppleTV wanted to charge me $9.99 to “buy” instead of $3.99 to “rent”, and Netflix won’t stream them, I was out of luck.  Suck it Apple and Netflix!!).

What I do know is this: I really, really liked The Amazing Spider-Man. Truly, I did. More than I expected to. More than many other critics did. This is surprising, for I pride myself on holding opinions that track the median critic’s views, or that are an order of magnitude more critical than everybody else’s. Yet here, my enjoyment seemed to exceed that of many others who saw this film.  The reason is clear — the cast.  I thought Andrew Garfield (who played the Saverin character in The Social Network) was magnificent:  nerdy, brooding, clever, emotional, in just the right combination.  And I almost think Emma Stone walks on water.  (She was magnificent in Easy-A, easily the best high school comedy since Mean Girls (yes, that’s a complement)).  So I’m biased, but I just really bought into both these characters, as well as their relationship.  I also felt the emotional drama of the film worked really well, just as intended, and I rarely say that about a movie.

I could talk about the plot, but why bother? It’s a formulaic Spiderman story from 30,000 feet, but with certain differences from the earlier incarnations. Do you really need to know the details of the story in order to decide whether to go see it? Of course you don’t.  Just go see this movie.

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12 thoughts on “Movie Review: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

  1. You’ve got to admit that the public would be correct to feel a certain hostility to the idea of another Spiderman origin movie. I mean, whatever your feelings about the Toby Maguire version, it’s not like it failed miserably or anything. I personally have reached a bit of a Spiderman saturation point, honestly, and have no desire to see this movie. If it is spectacular, and gets raves from every quarter, I might be convinced to watch it, under protest. I love Emma Stone, and Denis Leary’s presence can’t be bad. But other than that, I can’t muster up any interest at all.

  2. What is this madness? Who on earth would love Evil Dead II but hate Army of Darkness? Only a deranged person. Army of Darkness is like Evil Dead II ‘s funnier, goofier cousin. The cousin with even more quotable lines.

    Anyhow, I found the Raimi Spiderman installments lacking too so I will probably agree with you on this one. It looks good. This new kid seems much more Peter Parker-ish than the Pleasantville kid ever could be.

  3. MCQ, I understand the saturation. Truth be told, I don’t really care for Marvel, or any comic-related movies generally. I’m not a fanboy of the genre. But occasionally I’ll see one that pleases me, so I often give them a try.

    Geoff, which flick did you see first, Evil Dead II or Army of Darkness? I’m willing to bet my left kidney it was the latter. How do I know? Because it’s basically a cliche: Long-time Evil Dead 2 fans often dislike the 3rd installment, as I do. Those who came late to the party and caught the 3rd film first, fall in love with it (inexplicably) and then watch the 2nd one, only to be inevitably disappointed. The feel of the two films is very different, notwithstanding their commonalities, and the one feels like a betrayal of what was good about the other. That said, I and my tribe can beat up you and your tribe.

  4. I like both Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, Aaron. Evil Dead II was a horror flick that couldn’t keep those pesky comedy bits from popping up. Army of Darkness was a comedy that used a little scary-ish action as a backdrop. Both are cool. I see no reason to not appreciate both (other than pathetic Comic Book Guy “I liked it before it was popular” vanity/pouting of course).

  5. Marvel has been printing Spiderman comics every month for half a century, so there might as well be another movie.

  6. From what I understand, making another Spiderman movie was a legal requirement for Sony keeping it’s rights to the franchise. The only question is why we needed yet another origin story.

    I’ll probably see this one, but I’m coming at it from a skeptical point of view. I don’t think Andrew Garfield is right for this role at all. I’m an Emma Stone skeptic. And I also thought this director’s work in (500) Days of Summer was highly overrated.

    But who knows? Maybe I’ll end up loving this movie as much as I love Army of Darkness.

  7. I think my biggest problem is that I like Spider-man and Mary Jane and don’t give a crap about Gwen Stacy. She is just back story.

  8. Really, John? That’s awful. We need a remake of Evil Dead like about as much as we needed new versions of The Omen or The Shining.

  9. I thought Army of Darkness was “meh.”

    BTW – they are remaking the Evil Dead and replacing Ash with a girl.

    I loved the first two Spiderman films and though Rami got screwed by management on the third. I really thought he should have been allowed to make a 4th film the way he wanted. (John Malcovitch as The Vulture) Instead we get what’s basically a remake of the first one.

    Best line on the John Stewart interview of Denis Leary. “Do you think audiences will accept you as the police officer when you played Osborn in the first film?”

  10. Saw The Amazing Spiderman last night. Solid effort. Spidey seemed more like Spidey to me this time and there was good chemistry between the leads. I liked it better than the last go rendition of Spiderman (but not as much as the Iron Man flicks).

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