‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ – Andrew Garfield spins his web on Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+

Barely a decade after Sam Raimi first launched the “Spider-Man” film series and helped ignite the superhero big screen bonanza, the comic book hero’s story is rebooted and retold in a universe far from The Avengers in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).

Andrew Garfield takes on Peter Parker, this time as a decidedly hipper high school nerd, and Emma Stone is spunky girlfriend Gwen Stacy. They are a pair of bubbly personalities that help buoy this second run through the same basic origin story (high school boy bitten by radioactive spider, sudden powers, death of beloved Uncle Ben, yadda yadda yadda).

Spider-Man was a different kind of hero when he spun his first web in 1962. He was the first comic book super-hero that its young readers could actually identify with, the regular high school kid who feels powerless and is then suddenly empowered and then burdened with the tremendous responsibility that comes along with it. He can’t tell his secret to anyone, and he can’t use his power without the mask, so he continues to live as the meek, bullied kid to protect his identity and his loved ones.

Director Marc Webb attempts to retool the whole thing with a more authentic (or at least contemporary) cliché of high school culture and the screenwriters add a conspiratorial twist to the death of Peter’s parents that leads to a potential ally, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), and the film’s new villain, The Lizard. (Fans of the comic book expected The Lizard to scramble out in the first series, what with Dylan Baker appearing as Connors back Spider-Man 2, but that’s another issue.)

None of this approaches the exhilaration of the first thrilling swings through New York City or the rush, the angst, the responsibility, the emotional teenage life that Raimi brought to the first “Spider-Man” origin. Webb brings momentum and splash to the film without actually pulling us into the charge of Peter’s new power and tosses us into yet another showdown between plucky misfit hero and monstrous supervillain with a personal stake in the fight.

Five years after Raimi closed the original trilogy, the superhero movie changed the big screen landscape and it’s no longer enough to pretend it’s all happening for the first time in a world where superheroes don’t exist. Give Webb credit for the terrific chemistry between Garfield and Stone, but otherwise this rehash that adds nothing new to what is fast becoming a familiar formula.

Denis Leary costars as Gwen’s father, NYDP Captain Stacy, Martin Sheen and Sally Field take over the roles of Uncle Ben and Aunt May, and Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz play Peter’s deceased parents.

It was followed by a sequel but the proposed trilogy was never completed. Garfield’s Spider-Man did return, however, in the 2021 multiverse movie Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Rated PG-13

Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
The Amazon Spider-Man [Blu-ray + DVD]
The Amazon Spider-Man [4K UHD + Blu-ray]
The Amazon Spider-Man [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD]
The Amazon Spider-Man [DVD]

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The Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, $K UHD, and DVD releases all feature commentary by director Marc Webb and producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, 11 deleted scenes, footage from the stunt rehearsals, and a gallery of production art labeled “The Oscorp Archives.”

The Blu-ray edition offers the 109-minute documentary “Rite of Passage: The Amazing Spider-Man Reborn” and the Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack features an “Interactive 3D School with Director Marc Webb” and a 3D progression reel.


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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