Home Reviews We review AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3D – Not quite so amazing after all

We review AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3D – Not quite so amazing after all

5 min read

It’s now almost 1 am and I’ve just restarted this review for about the 8th time. Normally I would have hammered out some scalding but pithy one liner or adulatory hyperbole hours ago, but unfortunately I’ve encountered a problem. See, it’s easy to tear a horrible movie limb from bad tasting limb or to just look up synonyms for “awesome” in the thesaurus when it comes to a great film. But just an average film? No, that’s a whole lot harder.

And as luck would have it, that’s the conundrum I have to solve tonight with Amazing Spider-Man.

When greeted with news of a Spider-Man franchise reboot, just a mere 5 years after the last entry, most people respond with “Why?”. (Usually followed up with “Oh, yeah. Spider-Man 3.”) It’s question that I was hoping that new director Marc Webb would at least answer with this film. Unfortunately, by once again treading a lot of the same ground covered by Sam Raimi’s original trilogy, Webb breeds far too much familiarity for this to be truly justified.

We already know all about the story of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) aka Spider-Man: the high school nobody, the irradiated spider bite, the sudden and inexplicable affinity for contact sports, the untimely death of an uncle, great power, great responsibility, yadda yadda. Hell, even newcomer villain Dr Curt Connors aka The Lizard (Rhys Ifans), is essentially just another scientist who when placed under pressure to deliver turns himself into a monster with the help of various experimental chemicals (that’s always neon green for some reason). Sound familiar?

What makes this rehashing even more ho-hum, is that Webb chooses to play it far more straight faced and grounded than Raimi ever did, resulting in a huge loss of that sense of wonder as Spidey discovers his powers for the first time. The reboot’s biggest story change, the inclusion of Peter’s parents and the mystery surrounding their disappearance, which I was eagerly looking forward to to stir things up a bit, is also relegated to footnote status almost immediately, presumably to be picked up in the subsequent sequels.

Even the superheroic action sequences of the film, while wonderfully realized from a technical standpoint, mostly have a “been there, done that” feel to them. Spidey is certainly more spritely when engaging in one-on-one fisticuffs, using his web shooters to maximum devastating effect, but the moment the action zooms out again, it’s back to same ol’, same ol’.

And I would have hoped that after all the hoopla made over it, that Webb would have at least leveraged the maximum added benefit of the 3D in these sequences, but alas it was not to be. It’s not as if the 3D is badly done, it’s actually done rather well, it’s just done so infrequently that I spent large portions of the movie with my 3D glasses perched on my forehead without noticing any real difference in picture.

But it’s not all bad news though. As Peter and his masked alter ego, Andrew Garfield is just about perfectly cast. His Peter is less comic book nerd and just more socially awkward teenager, who Mr Hyde’s up the moment he puts on the mask to become a self-confident, wise cracking motormouth that feels like he’s been lifted straight from the comics page, complete with signature chiropractic nightmare poses. Peter’s scientific smarts, which Raimi almost all but ignored, is also finally pushed to the forefront, most notably in the tech-based web-shooters Spidey wears on his wrists.

And he’s also finally given a worthy partner in Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy, a combination of brains, beauty and sass, that can actually do more for herself than just lie tied to the train tracks until Spider-Man finds time in his schedule to rescue her *COUGH*mary-jane*COUGH*.

It’s this blossoming relationship between Peter and Gwen that is undoubtedly the strongest aspect of the film. Whereas Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire’s relationship in Raimi’s trilogy was essentially nothing but a non-music montage of cheesy cliches (let’s be honest here), this feels like two real people truly falling in love. And this relationship is given all the more dramatic heft by the fact that we already know what Gwen Stacy’s grim fate is going to be. (Well, at least us comic book geeks do.)

It’s no coincidence that Webb’s only other feature film directorial gig is the highly praised romantic drama 500 Days of Summer. The man undoubtedly possesses a talent for getting to the heart of characters, and his touch shows everywhere.

But it’s not just Peter’s romantic relationships that get some levelling up, as all the support cast, such as Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), Aunt May (Sally Field) and Capt. Jack Stacy (Dennis Leary), are not only also perfectly cast but through a combination of more dramatic acting and the script adding much more meat to them than previously seen on screen, all now feel a lot more like three dimensional characters instead of just walking plot points.

What all of this ultimately boils down to though, is that what Marc Webb has produced is a great romantic story and human drama, dressed in the skintight spandex of a middle of the road superhero movie. As the film has already been confirmed to be getting another two sequels, it could be that Webb and co are playing the long game and that this opening act is just that, an opening act. And if so I’m hopeful, seeing as how spot-on the all-around casting and characterization was and how well they captured the voice of Spider-Man. Maybe the sequels, now freed from the shackles of the origin story, will finally be able to step out from under Raimi’s shadow and hopefully live up to its title and be “Amazing”.

Unfortunately though, this film isn’t quite there yet.

Last Updated: July 5, 2012


  1. Geoffrey Tim

    July 5, 2012 at 09:42

    Webb.Spider-Man. Hah.


    • Kervyn Cloete

      July 5, 2012 at 09:47

      Ha, I know. It took every fiber of my being to not just keep the puns flowing.


  2. Sonny Bonds

    July 5, 2012 at 09:52

    I really enjoyed this movie. Look it’s not Batman quality but it’s not Batman. The problem here is the previous Spiderman movies. If this was the first Spiderman movie people would have flipped, but like the review stated “been there, done that”. Don’t compare this to the other Spiderman movies and go in there with a fresh look. This movie should do good at the box office… Andrew Garfield is the perfect Pieter Parker…. I hate 3D but this was decent.


    • Valshen

      July 5, 2012 at 09:58

      Sadly, no fan could do anything but compare. I think it is part of our base instinct to compare things. Why else would simile and metaphor work so well?


    • Nick de Bruyne

      July 5, 2012 at 09:59

      lol… ‘Pieter’ Parker. 


      • Sonny Bonds

        July 5, 2012 at 10:04

        🙂 There were a few Pieter Parker’s in the cinema last night. Eating popcorn wearing a spidey mask, oh it’s true.


    • Kervyn Cloete

      July 5, 2012 at 10:32

      Unfortunately, when you remake a movie so so soon after the original, you’re just inviting comparison. There’s just no way around it.

      In a perfect world, we’d have this movie’s cast with Webb’s character work, combined with Raimi’s flair for spectacle. That would have been the perfect movie.


  3. Nick de Bruyne

    July 5, 2012 at 09:58

    Interesting, I didn’t know that two sequels were already approved. I have big hopes for them then, I really really love Garfield and Stone, so I’m looking forward to seeing this. I didn’t actually know Gwen Stacy’s fate, and now you have me worried, although I’m more worried about losing Stone than anything else… Kirsten Dunst just absolutely murdered any attraction to Mary Jane that I would ever be able to muster up.

    But looking at the casting of this, I have high hopes that Mary Jane will be cast well. Can’t they just like, change Emma Stones make-up and hair colour a little and call her Mary Jane? That would work, right?



  4. Nick de Bruyne

    July 5, 2012 at 09:59

    I can’t delete this post, only edit it. So err. IGNORE THIS.


  5. DarthofZA

    July 5, 2012 at 10:21

    Ok, I haven’t watched the movie yet, so this might not be fair, but I have spoken to many many people who have watched and read countless conversations about the movie. But Raimi’s Spider-Man movies were fail at best. Even though 2 was a decent movie on its own, it was fail as far as representing Peter Parker from the comics. For those, who like me, have read all of Spider-Man from the very beginning (yes, closing onto 2000 comics now), we like to pretend that Raimi’s films didn’t exist. All my geek friends that walked into this expecting it to start over from the start, can’t stop raving to me about how true to the comics this is. And especially, the tone of the movie. Spider-Man comics have always been more drama than action movie. He has always been more average scrawny “emo” kid than geek that got picked on (he just didn’t wear black, but that personality). Like one of my friends who also grew up reading Spider-Man said to me yesterday, “I grew up with Spider-Man as my favourite hero, then after Raimi’s films, he gave up. This reminded me why I loved Spider-Man. This reminded me why Spider-Man is my favourite again.” I think for there to be decent true Spider-Man movies, they needed to completely get rid of everything Raimi established, and it sounds like this movie has done that. I’m still excited to see this!


    • Kervyn Cloete

      July 5, 2012 at 10:44

      I’d actually be the first one to agree with you that while I enjoyed Raimi’s movies at the time, in retrospect they were heavily flawed. And yes, I am a huge comic book geek, so I know exactly what your friends were talking about.

      Those core Spider-Man elements that you mention were done perfectly here by Webb, it’s the other stuff, the action and villainy stuff that you would think would be the easier parts that he just drops the ball on a bit.


      • DarthofZA

        July 5, 2012 at 10:51

         Hopefully then, someone steps in to help with those areas then for the next movie.


  6. Andre116

    July 5, 2012 at 10:25

    Seems to confirm what I suspected when I saw the trailer.  Very much just a clone of the first Spider-man movie. Think I’ll wait for the DVD.


  7. Wtf101

    July 5, 2012 at 11:00

    Hey, a 3 star Spidey doesn’t sound too bad.  Can’t wait to swing by the local cinema to watch this.  It just bugs me that this is in 3d again…


    • Kervyn Cloete

      July 5, 2012 at 11:03

      “…swing by…”

      Just couldn’t resist, could ya? 🙂


      • Wtf101

        July 5, 2012 at 11:08

        I tried.  Really I did…

        Just do me a huge favor… please tell me if I need to prepare myself to see Peter Parker all teary eyed because his girlfriend dumped him again?

        I just cannot stand it to see superheroes cry…


        • Kervyn Cloete

          July 5, 2012 at 11:17

          ….Erm, yeah… I can say that, but then I’d be lying a bit. Don’t worry, it’s not emo-Tobey level. Done very well actually.


          • Wtf101

            July 5, 2012 at 12:06

            That I should be able to live with…

  8. Wtf101

    July 5, 2012 at 11:01

    All together now…

    Rabobi… Rabobi…


  9. TireloMabetoa

    July 5, 2012 at 12:36

    As long as Tobey Maguire is nowhere to be seen, I think I’ll be reasonably happy.


  10. James Lenoir

    July 5, 2012 at 14:55

    Aw that’s a real pity. I had high hopes for this one, because the trailers peaked my interest….


  11. MrGrammer

    July 5, 2012 at 15:16




  12. grant nicol

    July 16, 2012 at 14:26

    WoW this review and most of the comments have brought a tear to my eye.

    Last year when First Class came out every body was saying we arent sure if this is connected to the other x-men movies that came out. Heck not even many people complained that Havok is actually Cyclops’ younger brother, yet there he was in the 60’s.

    AMS the film compares almost perfectly with the current arc’s in the AMS comics. I am a huge Spidey fan and AMS is my favourite comic title, I think it all started with the cartoons that we saw on KTV in the 90’s. In my opinion Peter Parker’s struggles as a normal civilian and his struggles with how to fit that into his life as Spidey are just as important as his adventures as Spider Man.

    The film portrays the relationships with Aunt May perfectly(and for the short time uncle ben), his relationship with the citizens of NY was portrayed perfectly, his spidey persona was just about there imo, we get to see that he is quite the science mind and not just a wet blanket like tobey was.

    To me there was just the right amount of action. After all doesnt romance play quite a big part in the ASM comics. When I tell people that this was film was better than the avengers I’m probably going to be laughed at, dont get me wrong the last hour and a half of avengers was full of amazing action but the 1st bit of getting the avengers together was boring.

    Sadly I think one of Marvel’s best films to date, is being overlooked because not so long ago we saw an origin story of Spider Man, never mind that it was an utter horror show.


    • Kervyn Cloete

      July 16, 2012 at 16:18

      You do realize that you just agreed with 90% of my review, right? 😀


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