Directed by: Marc Webb Screenplay by: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Kloves Story by: James Vanderbilt Based on the Comic Book by: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Cinematography by: John Schwartzman Original Music by: James Horner
Premise: When Peter Parker stumbles across and old leather briefcase that once belonged to his father, he finds an old newspaper picture of a colleague and decides to go to Oscorp and see what more he can find. While there, he illegally enters a lab and accidentally picks up a hitchhiker - a modified spider which later bites him in the back of the neck. As Peter tries to deal with his new found powers, high school problems, and budding affections for Gwen, he also inadvertently gives away a secret his father may have died to protect and opens the door for huge problems for New York City. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Andrew Garfield, with his great acting skills and thin, almost gawky build, was a great choice for Peter Parker. Emma Stone was vibrant as Gwen Stacy. Rhys Ifans gave us a multi layered Curt Connors. Denis Leary oozed protective parent and added a bit of fun and seriousness to his role as Captain Stacy.
2) Special Effects - Thumbs Up: While all the effects and CGI were well done, there was nothing spectacular presented. Following behind the awesome special effects in movies like "Prometheus", "John Carter", and others, "The Amazing Spider-man" appeared almost blase in comparison. Sadly, it made the higher expense of seeing it in IMAX 3D not worthwhile. Sadder still, there were several instances where they had an opportunity of doing so much more but didn't and it showed. (And most of the good ones were given away in the previews!)
But like I said, what was there was very well done - the room with the spiders and fibers was very cool. There just should have been more. And for the fans, they did incorporate several "classic moves" for the costumed vigilante that could have been pulled straight from the comic book pages. Those were a lot of fun. (They even sneaked in the traditional look of Dr. Connors' lizard form with the torn lab coat in there. Though the look of the lizard's face itself was not.)
3) Plot/Story - Neutral: To be honest, story wise, while replacing Mary Jane with Gwen, the Green Goblin with Dr. Connors, and adding a touch of mystery to what happened to Peter's parents and why, there was little that was different or all that new with regards to the story when compared to the 2002 "Spider-man" film. Not only that, but the way the story was set up added its own set of issues to trip it up without any new twists or real surprises.
Gwen is a high school student, yet she is not only working at Oscorp but has tremendous amounts of both training on very high tech equipment and security clearances. Also the means by which Peter picked up the spider didn't match the intelligence and cunning he showed in just getting to that section of the building. So it made it very difficult to believe it. More so was the fact no alarm was raised by his interference in the smooth running of the particular room. The major 'about face' by Flash with regards to Peter, just had me shaking my head.
Another big issue was Spider-man's web. He got the idea from a commercial of an Oscorp product and when we saw him build the wrist mechanisms, he used the containers we'd seen at the lab (which implied he was using their product in his machine). Logic dictates that not only would he not be able to afford to buy the stuff, the government would have seen the commercials and figured out what he was using and used that knowledge to try to track him down. (In the comics he'd come up with the formulas for the webbing and the mechanism on his own.)
But I must definitely give kudos for the writers' attempts to show Peter could not save New York alone, that everyone could do their part to help.
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Whether real, CGI, or a mix of the two, the stunts for the film were great. The fight scenes were smooth and believable. Stan Lee's cameo during the high school combat was particularly fun.
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Cool shifting points of view, a couple even done through Peter's eyes to try to give the audience an idea of what it would feel like to swing around from building to building in downtown New York. There were several great span shots and even overhead shots of the city. Several cool views of the bridge during combat were taken as well.
Conclusion: The movie is worth seeing for the great acting and watching Peter cope with his new found powers. Aside from trying to sow seeds for mysteries to explore in further films, the basic story of the web slinger remains much the same as previously shown. There were not enough cool things to make it worth the higher price of IMAX 3D, which was a pity.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Matinee Price)