The Amazing Spider-Man is the latest entry in a long line of Hollywood reboots. While the tradition of retelling great stories is certainly nothing new, it can be a little fatiguing when it is as front and center as it is in the film industry. This film is very much a reboot. It is another origin story that takes a new direction with a new cast and a (somewhat) new approach to the character.
Reboots are neither inherently good or bad. Studios decide to retell and retool an existing property for a number of reasons, most of them financial. However, we as a movie-going public continue to see them because they are wonderful stories with beloved characters. The story will often change in the details with each retelling, but the moral center continues to speak to each new generation.
As far as Spider-Man films go, I think Amazing Spider-Man is my favorite Spider-Man film to date. I do admit that I am definitely not a fan of Sam Raimi or Toby Maguire; therefore, this film had two legs up for me right away by replacing my two biggest problems with the last iteration.
Andrew Garfield plays the lead role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man very well. Garfield gives the character a refreshing youth that didn’t come across when Toby Maguire wore the mask last decade. To me, that particular bit of acting and direction is essential. Spider-Man has always been a kid struggling to be a kid and struggling to be a hero. Many 17 year-olds have more than enough trouble just dealing with being 17. The Amazing Spider-Man sells the idea of one of those 17 year-olds being given the safety of New York City to bear as a responsibility and watching him very admirably rise to the challenge.
Emma Stone and Denis Leary are great additions to the cast, and Rhys Ifans does a good job of bringing the Lizard to life. Speaking of the Lizard, I was never sold on the choice of villain until I saw the movie. The animation and level of detail on the character are fantastic and really add to the credible threat presented to Spider-Man. The 'evil plan' of the film is a bit out there, but, for me at least, still fell in the realm of believability. By believability I am, of course, referring to believability within the context of the world, not reality.
This outing into Spidey’s world sets a darker tone than its predecessors; which I felt was very appropriate. The film provides the seeds to set up other villains and plots within the Spider-man world. I'm very much looking forward to further installments in this iteration. I wouldn't go so far as to say this is a Batman Begins or Star Trek (2009) level reboot, but it probably lands somewhere around the X-Men: First Class adaptation and the Daniel Craig James Bond films.
My initial impression is that The Amazing Spider-Man has supplanted the original Spider-Man as my favorite depiction of the character, and it very easily trounces the second and third installments of the Raimi trilogy. This film is second only to The Avengers in my ‘favorite films of summer 2012 ranking,’ which is indeed high praise, although it may slip to third after Dark Knight Rises comes out tomorrow.
Any readers out there that prefer Spider-Man to Batman? I'm a Bat guy myself, but there are bound to be some die hard Spidey fans.