One of the most seminal nights of my life was May 3, 2002. I was 9 years old. It was a Friday, and me and my dad went to the nearby theater to see Spider-Man. It was so full, we had to sit in the very front row, the first time I had ever done so. But I didn’t care about having to look up all the time; from the moment the movie started, I was spellbound.
I remember thinking nothing but “WOW” the whole time, amazed at what director Sam Raimi and the cast–especially Tobey Maguire–were able to pull off. But the absolute best part was afterwards. Leaving the theater on what it turns out was Free Comic Book Day, I was handed a free copy of Ultimate Spider-Man #1. For the record, that comic–the start of a 21st-century universe of the same Marvel heroes but without the years of back-story, at least at the start–is one of my favorite comic books of all time and certainly one of the most influential on me. That movie, that moment, is part of the foundation of why I am who I am today. I’m a nerd through and through, folks. And that movie’s part of the reason why.
So how did I feel, a decade later, seeing The Amazing Spider-Man in theaters yesterday?
Well, I liked it a lot. And I feel that kids seeing this today will probably have the same reaction I did to the original film. I think this is really gonna bring kids into the comics-reading fold; well, those kids The Avengers didn’t reach…
The film is a marvel, especially in terms of CGI. The webslinging is good, the action is well-staged, and the new costume didn’t bug me like I thought it would. Marc Webb–who only directed ONE MOVIE before this (500 Days of Summer)–has a good handle on this world and while I was annoyed at the way certain characters and subplots tended to just get shoved aside for a while or disappeared altogether, his direction doesn’t make you notice that.
James Vanderbilt’s screenplay–which, according to the credits, was touched up by Harry Potter film scribe Steve Kloves–is rather good, changing up exactly what needs to be changed up and nothing beyond that, although the death of Uncle Ben was handled in an odd way for my taste.
If I had any overarching problem with this movie, it’s the way Peter Parker was handled. The film never seems to settle on just what he is–he’s either a nerd, a hipster,or a skate punk depending on the scene–and as good as Andrew Garfield is in this movie, I got really annoyed really fast at how he kept stuttering and stammering all of his lines. It was just irritating.
Apart from that, he was great. Emma Stone is amazing as Gwen Stacy, Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May were solid, and Rhys Ifans made a pretty effective Lizard, and Denis Leary KILLED as Captain Stacy.
So yeah, is this the best Spider-Man movie ever? No; Spider-Man 2 still looms large in that regard. But is this a good Spidey movie in its own right? Absolutely; check it out.