When The Amazing Spider-Man was announced many people out there wondered why the Spider-Man franchise was being revamped with an entirely new cast.  The first two movies with Tobey Maguire were good, with the second one of the two being great.  The third movie in that franchise though wound up killing it altogether.  Blame it on the studio, or whomever you want, it was necessary to reboot the franchise and bring back our web slinger to the silver screen.  But does this version of Spider-Man live up to expectations?

First let me say that it is impossible to watch this version without comparing it to Sam Raimi’s versions of Spider-Man.  Director Marc Webb takes the helm this time and aims to change things up a bit.  This time the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man is played by Andrew Garfield and he does a good job as our hero.  He’s got a sense of wit and sarcasm to him that works well on-screen.  The usual origin story of Peter’s lost parents, his radioactive spider bite, dealing with his new super spider-like powers, and of course the natural life of an everyday teenager are touched on.

And in this version we get Peter’s first love, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) who has much more appeal as a girl for Spidey than Mary Jane Watson.  Gwen is sexier and has more intensity onscreen with Parker than Watson ever did.  And of course the chemistry between Garfield and Stone is intensified considering their real life romance taking place off-screen.

Where the film misses the mark though is its lack of characters and a mediocre villain.  Our villain in this film is Rhys Ifans’ Dr. Curt Connors who we come to find out worked with Peter’s father before he mysteriously vanished.  Connors will soon become a threatening Lizard character who never really seems all that threatening to be an equal match to Spider-Man though.

Also in this version of the film, Peter is not working for the newspaper so we don’t get to see Peter’s boss at the Daily Bugle newspaper, J. Jonah Jameson, who in Raimi’s versions provided us with all sorts of onscreen chemistry between the two characters.  Rumor has it that this may be rectified in the sequel though.

One of the things that I really liked in this was the action sequences.  When Peter is learning how to use his new-found abilities and is swinging around through the balconies of the buildings, we get to see from his point of view just how he’s choosing where he grabs on to.  The special effects were quite good and up to par with the effects of Raimi’s version.

The film is playing in theaters across the country in 3D, and I have to say that while I am no advocate of 3D as far as feature films go, the 3D here is not going to get in the way or ruin the experience.  It’s quite acceptable and if you’re given the opportunity to see the film in IMAX 3D, it’s worth taking a look at.

Certainly better than Spider-Man 3, the revamping of the Spider-Man franchise was something that was probably needed.  Things could have been better, and unfortunately comparisons to Sam Raimi’s versions are inevitable.  But when all is said and done, The Amazing Spider-Man is worth checking out in the theaters.


Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres

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