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Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

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The Amazing Spider-Man is exactly what it says on the tin – amazing. From the tight plot (the nearly two and a half hours fly by) to the chemistry of the two leads, this movie is almost a textbook example of how to do great blockbusters, so it’s not surprising it’s doing really well at the box office.

Peter Parker (very strong Andrew Garfield) loses his parents abruptly, left to live with his aunt (Sally Field, beautiful) and uncle (Martin Sheen, big-hearted), forever questioning his origins and why he was abandoned.

High school sucks for him because handsome hulky types beat him up and scoop up the most brainy and beautiful chicks like Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) from under his nose. Because he is curious about the papers discovered in his late father’s suitcase, he ends up at the office of disturbed one-armed Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s former partner, who is trying to overcome his disability by endangering the rest of humanity.

The outcome of his experiments is a cross between Godzilla and Hulk running around NYC. The police are typically useless and blame some of the mayhem on Spider-Man, with Gwen’s Daddy Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) being the lead critic of the spandex-donning vigilante as seen in the trailer. But that’s as much as I will spoil it for you.

The Amazing Spider-Man is an origin story, a reboot of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002), and like all origin stories it is intriguing and fun to watch. Some critics have argued that it may be a cop-out, as the beginnings of stories are always easier to write and film (it’s the continuous interest of the public that is difficult to sustain in a film franchise, unlike TV for which successful examples abound, The Walking Dead among them). But I don’t think it’s only the ‘birth of the hero’ shebang that makes The Amazing Spider-Man so watchable and so fulfilling.

Just like many other superhero flicks, The Amazing Spider-Man is a perfect lesson is self improvement, but this time without boring moralizations. Peter Parker is the perfect example of powerful thinking. Of course he gets his strength from the radioactive spider but it’s his transition into his alter ego self, his belief that he can be someone bigger than a bullied teen, that makes him do the beautiful leaps and jumps that we get to see here via his point of view.

The mask and the costume are skin-deep (but of course they are indispensable like the brave leotard on Sacha Fierce as opposed to a demure dress on Beyonce); 90 percent of his strength is in his will to make a change. In a climactic scene Peter teaches this power of thought (also can be compared to the placebo effect) to a little boy in a very dangerous situation. It’s an old lesson, but it’s so good that no matter how many times it is repeated, it doesn’t lose its potency – and that’s the true power of The Amazing Spider-Man. The score by James Horner adds to the marvellous spectacle of expertly paced CGI tricks. And of course it’s impossible to take your eyes off Emma Stone.

Movie going is not always a walk in the park. The two young men next to me did not stop laughing and talking for a second during the first two thirds of The Amazing Spider-Man. They were so arrogant and cocky, so unapologetic and loud it was difficult to concentrate. Every plot twist, scene and emotional close-up was just hilariously stupid to them. But by the climax something happened: they fell silent, faces frozen with tension, forgetting their haughtiness and losing themselves completely – the best compliment to the makers of this movie who managed to turn bitter sceptics into wonder-struck spectators. Because yes, in the words of Albert Einstein, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’, and sometimes the best things happen when you ditch reason and let magic engulf you.

Verdict: The Amazing Spider-Man is a must-see movie of summer 2012.

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About Sviatlana Piatakova

  • Thanks for your comment, Robyn. I thought this movie about Spiderman was really great.

  • Robyn

    I found it quite entertaining, had a good pace, & the chemistry between Emma and Andrew was amazing. Movies are an escape for many. If you want life-changing, go watch Food Matters. If you want deep, don’t pick a movie based on a comic book. and Yet, there are still good messages, if you can climb down from your Oscorp tower for a moment and allow yourself to be engulfed…

  • Malcolm, I agree with you on your judgment of this Spider-man. especially after Ice Age 4 – such a waste of time…

  • Malcolm

    Great movie, didn’t seem to last long makes those other 3 movies look like the first 4 Bat man movies prior to the Dark Knight series. Paul I don’t know what bug crawled up your butt and died but you are full of shit!

  • 500 Days of Summer was a refreshing movie, imho. and what is wrong with video directing? good music videos are rare and a form of art in their own right… and I totally agree with Sherry that many components play a part in the end product, including profit-driven studio machinations as opposed to the pure vision of directors, writers, composers, etc.

  • Wow Paul – I didn’t love the movie, but I didn’t think it was that bad. It just didn’t really break any new ground. Yes, the director directed music videos, but he also directed 500 Days of Summer – I wasn’t in love with that movie either, but it was critically respected.

    Besides not all directors are auteurs – he was hired to direct the script the studio wanted to make. I’m sure he didn’t make all the decisions. I thought the directing seemed competent – it was the script I found lackluster – I blame the studio for not being very creative.

  • I think you are overreacting, Paul. what i find disturbing is that the highest rated film on Metacritic at the moment is Magic Mike. it is just bizarre.

  • paul

    Just look up the director on IMDb. Go ahead, do it. You’ll see that all he has done in the past, as a director, were a few music videos. The whole origin plot is half assed and assumes you already know what happens so it merely goes through the motions. I was truely excited for this movie. Now if I could only get my $20 and two hours back. I didn’t even stick around for the after credits BS. I had enough by that point. I tossed my 3D glasses into the bin and walked out of the theatre.

  • paul

    You couldn’t be more right. This truly is the must see film of the summer. It’s stinks of bad writing and is filled with plots holes. A classic example of a over hyped reheated turd of a blockbuster. I JUST left the theatre and I am in awe of how so many critics are giving this movie rave reviews. It provides some charming scenes here and there but over all it fails at story telling. Big time. It’s as if everyone lost few IQ points during the movie and forgot how to critically analyze a story; or recognize a plot hole when they see it.

  • I don’t know. I was just stunned when I realized how long it was and I thought it was like 40 minutes. agree to disagree ))

  • Are you sure those two kids weren’t just stoned, and maybe the high had worn off by act three?

    I couldn’t disagree more about this movie. I didn’t think it was awful – just uninspired in almost every way. Rhys Ifans made for a totally underwhelming villian. It all felt very by-the-numbers, lacking in any real emotional conviction. I even enjoyed the much maligned Spider-Man 3 better than this.