Peter, don’t make promises you can’t keep.
But those are the best kind.
I decided to revisit the two Amazing Spider-Man movies in the run-up to Spider-Man: Homecoming for some reason or other. The wheels definitely come off in the second movie, but more about that later. My reaction to this first film in the reboot remains essentially the same as it was when I first saw it in theaters. I think it’s quite good actually and pretty underrated. Andrew Garfield is charismatic and compelling as Peter Parker; he’s at his best doing his twitchy nerd thing, but he nails the dramatic moments as well. Emma Stone is fetching in the extreme and perhaps the biggest draw of the film is the chemistry between Garfield & Stone. Two of the best scenes in the film are simple conversations between them, one in a school hallway, the other on an apartment rooftop. Rhys Ifans is very good as Curt Conners; he gives his character a real tragic journey and his final scene (not counting a pointless credits scene) is really moving. Denis Leary is wonderful in his supporting role. He’s minimal and imposing and, as the film progresses, his character goes through a really nice arc. It’s honestly just a really emotionally evocative movie. The character writing is really sharp and the movie manages to get a solid four characters through actual emotional journeys when a lot of movies, even non-comic book movies, struggle to get one or two through. That said, the movie has problems. The CGI is probably the biggest one. Some of the scenes are pretty good and some are actually creative, like a great sequence on a bridge when the Lizard first appears. But the Lizard looks stupid; it’s just a poor design that feels painfully cartoonish, particularly when he’s talking. The film is also too long; we all know where the Uncle Ben thing is going, but the film takes a long time to get there. Still, the pleasures of Peter discovering his abilities and learning how to use them in creative ways are undeniable. There’s a great confrontation between Peter and a bully on the basketball court and a later scene where Peter uses his web to, well, to create an actual web in order to use the vibrations on the strands to tell him where the Lizard is are cool and creative and funny. Despite its flaws, I like the movie a lot. It’s not great, but it’s good and, when I first saw it, I was super-pumped for a new franchise. That didn’t go so well, but luckily, this one still stands up. 3 stars.
tl;dr – comic-book reboot is underrated and surprisingly character based; some dodgy CGI detracts, but this one actually had charm and serious potential for a new franchise. 3 stars.