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Wick's Review

Created Jul 04, 2012 05:07PM PST • Edited Jul 21, 2019 02:10AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Imagine there’s no Spider-Man. It’s easy if you try.
    No web below us, above us only sky.

    Imagine Spider-Man as if Toby Maguire never wore the suit and James Franco were still a sensitive nobody. Seen thusly, The Amazing Spider-Man is a great movie, notwithstanding a treacly story that’s often tinny.

    Did Columbia & Marvel need to reboot Spider-Man just a decade after its first big screen incarnation? No, but they’ve done a creditable job, in part by locating the story when Peter Parker was still a school kid. This makes it a nifty high school romp on top of everything else. So what if it doesn’t always ring true and never strikes the major chords that other Marvel masterpieces have. Fun is fun, especially when it’s really cute.

    How cute is it? It’s got the cutest couple who meet in the cutest ways and who are a real-life item off-screen, which makes them even cuter. And yet with all this beaucoup cuteness, they’re not the saccharine in the treacle. They’re the honey in the rock, the treasure that elevates this Marvel trove.

    The saccharine stems from Peter Parker’s pronounced self-pity, the tinniness from the supernatural scenes. With great power comes great responsibility, Uncle Ben said. By that, TASM’s reach exceeds its grasp.
    Reviewer’s Note: Apologies to John Lennon for bowdlerizing the lyric from Imagine.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Emma Stone & Andrew Garfield make movie magic together, blowing through the Howard Hawks good-movie-test of “three great scenes, no bad ones.” Emma & Andrew are probably in ten great scenes. They’re so far beyond good, they’re in Hollywood pantheon territory. Talk about a super-power couple.

    Gwen Stacy is the greatest girlfriend ever — smart, strong, sexy, sassy. And Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy. The fact that she and Andrew Garfield are a couple in real life makes their chemistry real, even if most of the evidence comes from her. Put it this way, he emotes like Keanu Reeves if Keanu Reeves could emote. She’s Girlfriend of the Century – smart, strong, sexy, sassy. Did I mention that she’s also cute as a button?

    The fact that they’re closer to 30 than 20 and get to play high-school kids again is a classic Hollywood gyp. Who else gets to do that? OK, it’s like this: you get to come back to high-school ten years after you graduated, only this time you’ve got like a dozen people working on your hair and makeup. And you get the girl. Oops, I mean you get the guy. Whatever. Moviemakers love playing this 21 Jump Street game.

    Strong supporting cast:

    • Martin Sheen as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, the role played by Cliff Robertson in the first series: Sheen plays a great paternal figure, plus there’s an added frisson from visualizing him delivering his shape-up speeches not to Peter Parker, but to Charlie Sheen.
    • Sally Field as Peter’s Aunt Mae: A lovely turn by the ever lovely Sally Field. It’s comforting to anticipate Field’s maternal presence in the sequels, as she’s less prominent in this origin story.
    • Rhys Ifans as the inadvertent super-villain known as The Lizard: He’s not great, which holds down how high a superhero movie can rise. That said, he delivers a Shakespearean-like soliloquy in the third reel that has real gravitas.
    • Denis Leary as NYPD Captain Stacy, father of the Greatest Girlfriend and Spider-Man’s biggest critic: Leary’s a natural hardass, making this a perfect role for him.
    • Irrfan Khan as a slimy senior executive who gets what’s coming to him.
    • Campbell Scott in brief flashbacks as Richard Parker, Peter Parker’s mysteriously missing Dad. Will we see more of him in the sequels? Embeth Davidtz cameos as Mary Parker, Peter’s Mom.
    • C. Thomas Howell as a crane operator who gets a chance to repay Spider-Man for saving his son.
    • Chris Zylka as Flash, the high school bully. Now that Zylka’s had his moment of mainstream fame, he can return to his lair in movies like Piranha 3DD.

    Stan Lee’s cameo comes as Spidey and the Lizard crash through the high school library. Lee’s cheerful librarian – grooving to classical music – is oblivious to the massive destruction right behind his back. Sweet!

  4. Male Stars Great 4.0


  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0


  6. Female Costars Great 4.0

    Sally Field

  7. Male Costars Great 4.0

    Martin Sheen and Dennis Leary great. Ifans very good.

  8. Very Good 3.5

    Marc Webb directed just one feature film prior to The Amazing Spider-Man. Perhaps his perfect last name helped him win the commission. In any case, he does a great job, especially with the non-supernatural scenes. The supernatural scenes, not so much. Seamless FX notwithstanding, you won’t always believe a man can swing up Fifth Avenue.

    Let’s also quibble with the poor title. Amazing is a little off for such a slickly self-effacing movie. Plus The Amazing Spider-Man is so long and generic, will anyone remember this other than as The New Spider-Man, The One With Andrew Garfield? Just asking.

  9. Direction Great 4.0

    500 Days of Summer, Marc Webb’s debut feature film, showed off a charming inventiveness that is well exercised here.

  10. Play Good 3.0

    Spider-Man is an all-time great comik story, yet is essayed just OK here, thus averages out to good. Part of the problem is that Peter Parker’s self-pity seems more pronounced than before. Self-pity is rarely attractive and it seems to lead to more than little treacle.

  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Great 4.0

    Loved how Spidey’s suit was shown in more detail, especially the web-shooters.

    The Lizard’s appearance was also notable, in that it was a remarkably lifelike massive humanoid creature, the best one yet in a Marvel movie. They’ve been getting much better at this, considering the progression from the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk, to the Hulk in The Avengers, to the Lizard.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.7

    Comik edginess makes it OK for all but the smallest kids.

    That said, the story imagines people, high school kids especially, as living in a near Hobbesian state of nature that only Spider-Man can police. Harsh

  15. Sex Titillating 1.6
  16. Violence Fierce 2.0
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.6
  18. Supernatural 4.0

    The Supernatural rFactor comes from complete biological fantasy, supernatural physioreality and surreal circoreality. As always in superhero movies, Conservation of Energy gets no respect.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 3.0
  20. Biological Fantasy 5.0
  21. Physical Supernatural 4.0


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Jul 6, 2012 11:30AM

Regarding BrianSez’s Review
Fair enough Bri. I wavered between Very Good and Great, tipping over to the higher rating because Emma Stone was definitely to my taste. Lucky guy, that Andrew Garfield.