The Film (3.5/5)
Did Spider-Man really need another origin story? Since 1963 the story of Spider Man's origin has been told so many time it should be committed to almost anyone with a passing familiarity with superheroes or popular fiction. It was only a little over 10 years ago that Sam Raimi brought Spider Man's origin story to life with spectacular results, but it appears that Hollywood is all about franchise reboots these days even if the franchise being rebooted is still fresh in mainstream consciousness, thus we have the Marc Webb directed, Andrew Garfield starring The Amazing Spider-Man.
The Amazing Spider-Man if you couldn't tell from my opening tirade is the origin of Spider-Man. It tells the story of awkward science loving high school student Peter Parker, his bite from a radioactive spider, which subsequently ends up giving him super-strength, and the ability to stick to and crawl and walls and ceilings. The film hits all the familiar beats, Spider-Man acquires his powers, adjust to having the powers, and loses his Uncle Ben to a robber he let get away. In the comics and in the prior trilogy of films this leaves him with a certain sense of guilt, and it does in this film too. In all variations this drives him to become the crime-fighter he eventually becomes, however, in this version he ends up hunting down every single criminal who bares a passing resemblance to the man who killed his Uncle essentially playing the Charlie Bronson version of Spider Man for the first part of the movie. That is until the Lizard shows up, and things get a little more real for the bourgeoning superhero.
Normally, I wouldn't compare a remake/reboot against the original unless the film seemed to call for me to do so. However, due to the close proximity in time between the two films it seems only natural that comparisons will be drawn between the Webb film and the Raimi film. Personally, I do like a number of things that Webb's film did in relation to the Spider-Man mythology and chronology, his use of Gwen Stacy as Spider-Man's early love interest rather than the more well-known and popular Mary Jane Watson was certainly appreciated. Also, well I can understand on a story telling level why Raimi chose to allow Spider-Man's webbing to come directly from his wrist in a biological way. I do prefer the comic book method of the mechanical web shooters much more.
That being said Raimi's film tonally felt more like Spider-Man from the comic book atmosphere, action sequences, character development, direction, and even the casting. When Toby Maguire was announced as Spider-Man I was unsure of how he would be as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, but he took on the role quite well during his tenure. I do give Andrew Garfield credit for an admirable job with what he is given here, and honestly there is a lot more emphasis on character in Amazing Spider-Man than on action, but there were little things in the performance and look of the character that put me off.
Peter Parker in the comics, in the movies was an awkward nerd with an interest in photography and a love for science. These elements are certainly in the character here, but it feels like this version was created more in a Hollywood boardroom than with an eye to detail. His hair came from Twilight, they gave him a cosmetic love of skateboarding. This is in contrast to the Raimi film where they took an actor (who admittedly looks very Hollywood) like Toby Maguire and portrayed as a simple awkward nerd with a passion for science and made it at least somewhat believable. I will say Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy was much better casting than the Raimi version of Bryce Dallas Howard in 3 (which felt like a name-check cameo anyway), and felt like her comic character. That being said the Uncle Ben and Aunt May of the earlier Raimi film were more in line with how they appeared in the books.
I understand quite a bit of this is nitpicking, and a lot of this can be put into the same boat as those people who are opposed to a black Johnny Storm. This is Webb's vision of Spider-Man and during the first half of the movie (mostly the establishing story) I simply did not find myself agreeing with that particular vision. That being said once Spider-Man's powers were established the film begins to find it's footing, it gets quite good. The real turning point for me was the dinner at the Stacy's which is quite an awkward and defining character moment, and definitely makes you feel for the young Peter Parker as you can see him struggle with his new Spider-Man identity and trying to fit in with his new girlfriend's family.
This is where Spider-Man really finds it's comfort zone. Sam Raimi had a very distinct and over the top visual style that is quite suited for genre movies like horror or action. Bringing Marc Webb whose prior experience is in more character oriented fare like 500 Days of Summer, brings that experience over to the Spider-Man universe.
I feel like making a new origin story for Spider-Man may have been a mistake so soon after the Raimi film. In certain circumstances such as Ang Lee's Hulk to the recent Incredible Hulk it is understandable. However, I feel like the road best traveled would have been to simply continue the Raimi series with a new actor and director rather than tread a path so frequently, and recently traveled. That being said the Amazing Spider Man does have it's own distinctive style that certainly separates itself from Raimi's vision of the webslinger, and really takes off in it's second half. It's just unfortunate that it didn't get to those highs much sooner.
Did you expect anything less from the latest big budget Spider Man extravaganza than a 5/5? the Amazing Spider Man, comes to Blu-ray in this "Mastered in 4k" edition with a beautifully rendered 1080p transfer preserving the films original theatrical aspect ratio. The film looks absolutely flawless in it's presenation, colors pop from the screen, detail is fantastic, and black levels are inky and deep.
The audio is presented with an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. The track is fantastic, music and FX burst from your speakers without even being overwhelming, while the dialogue comes through clean and clear throughout the entire presentation. I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
The Amazing Spider-Man takes the Spider Man story back to the beginning, before getting into a second half that is a lot of fun. The A/V on this mastered in 4K Blu-ray is incredible, but to get that extra bit rate out of the disc, Sony has dropped the extra features from the prior edition. The Amazing Spider-Man for the A/V and the fun 2nd half comes Recommended.