It seems a bit early for a Spider-Man reboot, especially considering that Spider-Man 3 arrived a mere five years ago, but The Amazing Spider-Man (directed by Marc Webb) is a hyperactive thrill ride with solid performances. I have issues with some of the changes, but overall I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would, or should. As many fans probably know by now, the producers of the film tinkered with the origin story not only to make it fresh for audiences but also to take the series in a different direction than Sam Raimi’s trilogy. And they hit a lot of good notes.
Here are 10 things to love about The Amazing Spider-Man, which looks great in 3D. Be forewarned, there are some minor spoilers below.
1. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is slightly less of a pushover in this incarnation. Sure, he gets his ass kicked by Flash Thompson early on for defending a bullied kid — and the payback is fun — but it makes him more believable when he takes on the role of a costumed (if smart-alecky) do-gooder.
2. Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), another major character from the Spider-Man comic continuum and his actual first real love interest, is a smarter, stronger match for Peter than the famed Mary Jane Watson (at least as she was previously portrayed on film). Sure, she’s got that girl-next-door look and appeal, but Gwen is more confident and willing to brave danger in order to help out her web-slinging beau. The twosome also have great chemistry.
3. The Lizard (aka Dr. Curt Connors, played by Rhys Ifans) is a bad ass adversary. He chokes Spidey at one point, and it looks like our hero’s head might pop off. His ability to slither across ceilings makes him tough for our hero to pin down.
4. By coincidence (I think), the killer of Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) looks like Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger, especially on his wanted poster. Whether you love or loathe the band, it’s pretty funny if you know what he looks like.
5. Spidey has his identity revealed a few times in creative ways, so a few people know who he is. Who knows and might give it away? Who might die with the secret? I won’t say, but it’s an interesting and more realistic twist to the myth.
6. Two major characters from Raimi’s first movie and from the original tales do not appear, namely Norman Osborn (despite Oscorp being a major location) and J. Jonah Jameson (although a Daily Bugle headline makes an appearance). Perhaps they will appear in the sequel, but it’s not at all bad that they are absent here.
7. There are is an interesting evolution to Spider-Man’s costume, from when Peter first borrows his mask pattern from a Mexican wrestling poster to developing his web shooters.
8. The way Peter discovers that he doesn’t know his own spider strength nor that he now has sticky, web-producing palms is played for laughs. But whether accidentally pulling off a subway rider’s dress to inadvertently smashing his alarm clock and destroying his sink, the scenarios really are awkward and funny and would be in real life.
9. The fight scenes are intense, and Peter often shows up at home with cuts and bruises, much to the dismay of his bewildered Aunt May (Sally Field), who looks younger and less frail than her original character.
10. Spider-Man has a cell phone and uses it too. It’s funny to watch him talk to Aunt May while he’s sitting atop a skyscraper.