The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man

Marc Webb, 2012, USA

New on DVD is The Amazing Spider-Man, this summer’s third highest grossing film after The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.  I recently saw this on an airplane and while I didn’t get the full cinematic effect by doing so, I’m glad I didn’t spend money on it in the theaters.  It’s not a bad film, but it is an inferior re-make of a far better movie (Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002)).

Don’t get me wrong – there are worthwhile remakes out there.  However, most of the time the best remakes have a different location (Seven Samurai (1954) /The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Departed (2006) /Infernal Affairs (2002)), a different time period (Ocean’s Eleven (1960/2001), Father of the Bride (1950/1991)), or a dramatically different plot (Scarface (1932/1983)) than the original. The Amazing Spider-Man has none of these differences.  Just like the original, we find Peter Parker in high school, figuring out his new powers, and trying to stop a villain who attacks bridges.

First of all, Spider-Man absolutely nailed the comic book origins of Spider-Man, indeed it may be the most accurate adaptation of a comic book ever committed to celluloid.  The Amazing Spider-Man dumps large swaths of the Spider-Man mythos (I know newspapers aren’t doing so hot but c’mon, no Daily Bugle?), demonstrates Peter using his powers in public and in the open on at least two occasions (in the original he beats up Flash Thompson sure, but in this one he fights like 10 people on the subway), and contains an uninspiring villain (I’ve never been a big fan of the Lizard). And for what?  So we can see Peter Parker/Spider-Man as a text-happy, mopey, teenager?

Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is 0ff base, although he does his best with the material he’s given.  His Peter Parker is written as motivated by vengeance and showing off more than Parker’s actual reason for being Spider-Man in the first place – an overwhelming sense of guilt and responsibility.  Tobey Macguire’s Peter Parker/Spider-man (at least in the first two Spider-Man films) is far superior in this regard, as well as generally more likeable.

I know why they made The Amazing Spider-Man – Sony needed to make another film or the rights to Spider-Man would have reverted back to Marvel/Disney – but I don’t think an inferior re-make of the original film was the right way to go.  After all, the young adult, 30ish Spider-Man of the 80’s and 90’s had to navigate a troubled marriage, increasingly powerful enemies, and the enormous fatigue that resulted from him having been Spider-Man for a decade.  Why do a below average job of telling the same story a second time when there are so many more interesting stories to be told?

You might like the Amazing Spider-Man if: You wish Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films were more like Christopher Nolan’s Batman films.

You might not like the Amazing Spider-Man if: You thought the Sam Raimi Spider-Man nailed Spider-Man’s origin story so well that you see no reason to tell the same story again.

(c) 2012 D.G. McCabe