Plot: Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) was left in the care of other relatives when his father ran into some trouble and when he never returned, Peter wound up raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). While Parker is just in high school, he has shown tremendous affinity in scientific pursuits, but struggles with the social aspect of life. This leads to him being pushed around by bullies and unable to express himself to Gwen (Emma Stone), the girl who has captured his imagination. When he stumbles upon some documents that connect his estranged father to the science program at Oscorp, Peter sneaks in and instantly impresses the lead researcher, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). But Parker’s life soon takes an unexpected turn when he is bitten by an engineered spider during his lab visit and finds himself overwhelmed by changes that happen as a result.
Entertainment Value: Although I am not a fan of reboots and remakes in most cases, I was mildly optimistic about this one, as I always felt Spider-Man deserved better than the charisma void that is Tobey Maguire. As it turns out, this reboot offers a darker, more narrative driven experience than Sam Raimi’s series, but Andrew Garfield isn’t much of an upgrade as a lead. I did appreciate how this reboot made some changes and took things in a darker, more serious direction, but this still lacks of the comic feel and comes off like a generic action movie to me. I was never bored and the production values are impressive, but it just didn’t have the Spider-Man magic and felt like the character was forced into an action movie. The narrative is more intricate than most superhero movies, with a good amount of character development, while action scenes are solid, but plagued by low end CGI visuals. I am baffled how the effects on the Lizard were approved, as those scenes are just laughable, even by superhero CGI standards. But I can appreciate some elements of The Amazing Spider-Man, so if you’re a fan of superhero movies, you’ll likely have a decent time with this one.
I think Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series was well crafted for the most part, but I also thought Tobey Maguire was a huge casting mistake. Peter Parker’s signature wit and charisma were absent from that series and I hoped that would be remedied here, but that didn’t happen. Andrew Garfield has a little more presence and charm, but still lacks the likable persona and comic timing that Parker is known for. But the movie is able to compensate for that and given the darker, more serious tone, that flaw is covered by the material. I still found him to be a dull, forgettable lead, but at least the writing seems to be aware of that and makes adjustments. Emma Stone is good as Gwen, though she isn’t given a lot to do here, but she is a more active part of the narrative rather than Mary Jane’s passive presence in Raimi’s film. I also appreciated Martin Sheen and Sally Field, who turn in solid performances. The cast also includes Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans, and C. Thomas Howell.