Friday, August 17, 2012


I saw the trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight
when I went to see The Avengers.  Neither impressed me and,
after enjoying the best super-hero movie of all time, I had more or
less decided to wait to watch the other two movies when they were
released on Blu-ray.  That changed after the Aurora shootings when
I decided to see at least one movie a month at our local multi-plex

My daughter Kelly and I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man earlier
this week.  She had seen it in 3-D when it opened, but she wanted
to see it with me in 2-D.  There were less than a dozen people at
the 12:35 pm showing, which was fine by us.  The only annoyance was
the flashlight-wielding theater employee who checked the exit door
every twenty minutes or so.  I understand why the theater did this,
but it was still an annoyance, albeit one I can live with.


The Amazing Spider-Man is a fine updating of the character for new
generations.  Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is not the completely
nerdy and impossibly clean-cut teen of the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
comic books.  But he’s a good kid with believable abandonment and
anger issues.  That he makes bad decisions with tragic consequences
is realistic, that he builds on those decisions and consequences to
become a hero is the heart of Spider-Man, both in the better comic
books and in this movie.

Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy looks like she stepped out of John Romita-
drawn comic book pages.  She’s also believable and so damned cute
that, were I a hormonal teenage boy, I’d have eaten a radioactive
spider to get a date with her.  She’s a strong young woman and as
heroic as Spider-Man.  They were meant for each other.

For villains, Rhys Ifans (Curt Connors/The Lizard) and Irrfan Khan
(as a sinister Oscorp executive) fit the bill nicely.  Ifans gave
a solid performance as the tortured Connors while hamming it up a
tad too much as the Lizard.  The Lizard moved across the screen in
usually terrific fashion and that added to the creature’s physical
confrontations with Spider-Man.  The battle between the two foes in
Peter Parker’s high school is especially wonderful and features an
amusing cameo by Stan Lee.

Denis Leary’s interpretation of Captain George Stacy was extremely
different from the comic-book version of the character, but I loved
it!  This George Stacy was a fit match for both Spider-Man and the
Lizard.  I wish the character had survived this movie, if only to
see how he and Peter would have gone forward from his discovery of
Peter’s identity and their subsequent battlefield alliance.

I thought Martin Sheen and Sally Field were terrific as Ben and May
Parker.  Sheen portrayed Uncle Ben as a working man with a strong
sense of morality and a touch of the imp.  Field, who can blow just
about any actor off the screen, subdued her star quality to give
us an Aunt May who was loving, confused, and frail without seeming
hopelessly weak. 

Also notable were the performances of Chris Zylka as Flash Thompson
and the always fun C. Thomas Howell as a construction worker whose
son is rescued by Spider-Man.  Zylka shows there is more to Flash
than the bullying jock and makes it convincing.  Howell’s character
shows the toughness of New Yorkers in times of crisis. 

Did these great actors add to the writing or did the writing demand
their great performances?  That’s not a question I can answer.  I
can say the movie flowed very well with a nice balance of action,
character play, humor, and suspense. 

The special effects were dizzying to behold and made me glad I did
not see the 3-D version of the movie.  When it comes to movies, I
definitely have a 2-D brain.

A few more quick notes...

The spider-skateboarding scenes ran too long.  Maybe it’s because
I don’t see too many skateboards in my neighborhood.  I don’t know
enough about skateboards to be sure, but I got the sense some sort
of product placement deal was going on.

While it may seem sacrilegious that the film didn’t use the classic
“with great power” line verbatim, I thought Martin Sheen conveyed
that moral very well and in a more natural manner.

No J. Jonah Jameson?  I was incredibly good with that.  The current
Spider-Man comics have made the character a tiresome cliche.  Time
to retire him for good.

No Norman Osborn.  Likewise plus, though the shadowy Oscorp offers
possibilities for the sequel.

I was, of course, disappointed by the lack of recognition given to
John Romita and Don Heck in the end-credits.  They were the first
artists to draw Captain Stacy, even if their version is different
from the movie version.  And Emma Stone could have stepped from a
Romita model sheet of Gwen Stacy. 

For that matter, who coined the company name “Oscorp” in the comic
books?  I can’t remember if it was used during Stan Lee’s long run
on the title.  If it came along later, then the writer who came up
with it should have received credit as well.

Who was the mystery man at the end?  I haven’t a clue.  My initial
thought was Doctor Octopus, but, given my preference, it would be
a brand-new villain. 

The Amazing Spider-Man was an entertaining effort.  It successfully
rebooted the film franchise.  If there’s a sequel, I’ll go see it.
Consider that my strong recommendation of this movie. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with more reviews.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. "No J. Jonah Jameson? I was incredibly good with that. The current
    Spider-Man comics have made the character a tiresome cliche. Time
    to retire him for good."

    I don't think there's ever a time to retire a character like J. Jonah Jameson (or Aunt May) "for good." You can write him out of the series for a while, but a future writer should always have the opportunity to take him off the shelf and do something new and innovative with him.

    The death of Aunt May was a FANTASTIC story by J.M. DeMatteis, but when it was over, an important element of the series was gone and couldn't be replaced. While I hated the storyline that brought her back (I was actually supposed to be one of the writers of that storyline but ultimately backed out), I never opposed the idea of bringing her back.

    In recent years, I've come to the conclusion that the same applies to Gwen Stacy. It would have been better for the Spider-Man series overall--and perhaps comics in general--had she never been killed off. (Though that would have deprived us of the great WHAT IF issue you wrote!)

    So I hope we see JJJ in the next movie--and if they don't bring back J.K. Simmons to play him, I hope they'll consider Ted Levine, who would be perfect.

  2. I also enjoyed the movie. I agree that Stone's protrayal of Gwen was perfect. But the best part was after the movie.

    I went to see it with the whole family - wife Sharon, and three boys, Erez aged 15.5, Doron aged 14 (it was his birthday) and Ofer aged 8.5.

    The thing is, Ofer wore a red shirt and blue pants, while Erez wore green. After the movie they were fooling around, with the eldest chasing the youngest. The colors of thier cloths fit Spider-man / Lizard to a tee, which was so reminicient of the movie chase scene, it made us all laugh.

    Harry Tzvi Keusch

  3. As with the first Spider-Man movie, I enjoyed the scenes with Peter out-of-mask more than I did the super-heroics. I'm still not entirely sure why the studio decided to retell Spider-Man's origin with this film, but it was enjoyable enough.

  4. It takes practically a stick of dynamite to get me into a movie theater (even The Avengers couldn't light that fuse, though the temptation to see it in the theater pummeled me relentlessly), so I'll probably catch this flick when it's released on BD. I can't say the thought of seeing another Spider-Man movie makes me sit up in anticipation--but Sally Field, and yet another delightful Stan Lee cameo, are definitely feathers in its cap. :)