Picking from where ex-Spider Man director Sam Raimi left off, Marc Webb seems to have passed the critics' test of expectations from a Spidey franchise. The clear winner, unanimously, is Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Spider Man.
Film: The Amazing Spider-Man
Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, Martin Sheen, Denis Leary, Irrfan Khan
Synopsis: Peter Parker finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His path puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors, his father's former partner.
Andrew Pulver, The Guardian
The gear-shift in the superhero movie is now unmistakeable. Where once they aimed to essentially replicate the experience of reading a comic book, they now strive to be edgy, risk-taking dramas that do more than simply pay lip-service to their characters' emotional lives.
Be that as it may, Webb successfully treads a fine line between keeping the hardcore superhero-movie fans happy and injecting a dose of meaningful affect. Parker is generally reckoned to be the most "relatable" figure in the superhero canon, but the pastel-bright synthetics of the earlier movies did little to dispel the sense that the comic-book world could only construct its characters out of clunking great blocks of melodrama.
In re-engineering Parker into the introspective, uncertain male more typical of his previous film, Webb is aided by a terrific performance from Andrew Garfield, who brings a genial unflappability that allows him to negotiate the often-ludicrous demands of the superhero plotline. At the same time, Webb also shows an unarguable facility for the more traditional action elements of the story, and the 3D certainly helps: he pulls off some properly nauseating shots as Parker dives off skyscrapers, rescues kids from falling, and the like.
It's the successul synthesis of the two – action and emotion – that means this Spider-Man is as enjoyable as it is impressive: Webb's control of mood and texture is near faultless as his film switches from teenage sulks to exhilarating airborne pyrotechnics. It's only towards the end, when there is no choice but to revert to CGI – as Rhys Ifans' Lizard goes on the rampage – that The Amazing Spider-Man gets a little less amazing: cartoony reptilian carnage has just lost its power to enthral if it's rather obviously happening inside a computer.
Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
So for Spider-Man to register in today’s superhero-saturated market, he has to do something more than pull on a candy-wrapper costume, swing from the same skyscrapers and pander to the geeks in the cheap seats. Fortunately, Sony and director Marc Webb have come up with a very creditable, very marketable alternative, and it owes more to the recent success of Twilight than anyone in a costume and cape.
Simply put, The Amazing Spider-Man is the first superhero movie aimed primarily at women. The new Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is no goofy teenage geek in the Tobey Maguire mould; he’s a bright, introverted young man with a furrowed brow, a Tintin quiff and a pasty Home Counties complexion. Garfield seems to be playing him as a half-gangly, half-graceful riff on Eduardo Saverin, his character from David Fincher’s Facebook chronicle, The Social Network.
In fact, if Webb’s film has a weak suit, it’s the supervillainy: Ifans’s character is underdeveloped, and his putative tragic fall is more of a gloomy tumble. Some comic-book fans have also criticised the “unconvincing” special effects employed to bring Ifans’s scaly alter ego to life, although I can’t say I’m entirely clear what a convincing rendering of a giant angry lizard in torn purple trousers and a lab coat might look like.
But that’s not to say The Amazing Spider-Man is short on blockbuster testosterone, and the film’s second half offers more than enough bungee-swinging through Manhattan’s concrete canyons, immaculately rendered in vertiginous, silky-smooth 3D, to satisfy thrill-seekers of either sex.What’s refreshing is the way Webb makes those action sequences count – with a plot that rests almost entirely on the plausibly tingly romance between his two leads.
Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
A friskier, sweeter-natured variation on the story Sam Raimi told in his recent trilogy, with greater emphasis on human relations than on special effects, this Spidey reboot refreshes an old story through the on-trend notion of making a Marvel superhero less...super-heroic. With an effortlessly winning Andrew Garfield now in the title role and the irresistible Emma Stone by his side as Gwen Stacy, the most delicious high school girlfriend a bug- and love-bitten young man could hope to woo, The Amazing Spider-Man may be the first big-ticket, big-budget, big-action-sequence comic-book movie that also doubles as a lilting coming-of-age indie. I mean an indie at its very best, with smart attention paid to coming-of-age issues, including the prickly shyness of a social outsider who's an easy target for bullies, the sexual and romantic awkwardness of a first-timer in love, the run-amok emotions of adolescence, and the unrest of a teenager who feels abandoned by his father. Of course, attention is also paid to a supervillain: the Lizard, a giant, destructive reptile played with impressive commitment to scaliness by Notting Hill's Rhys Ifans.
Through it all, Garfield fills both his slackerish Peter Parker identity as well as his Spider-Man rubberwear with star-quality confidence. Mixing self-effacing sweetness with believable teen boy arrogance, then adding a wee drop of snark, the exciting British-American actor with the JFK Jr. dark good looks defies anyone to hate him because he's beautiful — or because he's not Tobey Maguire. And any time the actor shares a scene with the radiant Ms. Stone...well, the two are a chemistry experiment gone as blindingly right as reptilian Dr. Curt Connors' little lab test goes terribly wrong. What's most amazing in The Amazing Spider-Man turns out to be not the shared sensations of blockbuster wow! the picture elicits, but rather the shared satisfactions of intimate awww.
Mark Adams, Mirror
That web-slinging superhero Spider-Man is back - again – and against all of the odds this 3D reboot is an engagingly action-packed and freewheeling affair, blessed with perfect chemistry between Brit Andrew Garfield and Hollywood star Emma Stone and some grandstanding special effects moments.
Young British actor Andrew Garfield is excellent as the smart but mild-mannered Peter Parker – combining awkward nerdyness with an underlying strength – and gives the film a reliable backbone.
There are some changes naturally enough – love interest this time comes in the blonde form of Gwen Stacy (played with charm to spare by the wonderful Emma Stone) and for some reason The Daily Bugle, where Peter sold snaps of Spider-Man in the original films (and the comic book series) is gone – but this re-telling is breezily watchable, despite a hefty running time.
The 3D works extremely well when it comes to his swinging his way around the Big Apple, though loses impact when it comes to old-fashioned dialogue and simple one-on-one scenes. Luckily the film is blessed with the delightfully confident and vibrant Emma Stone…she may be a little old to be playing high-schoolers (she is 22 later this year), but has such grace and poise – as well as perfect comedy timing – that oddly she ends up being the real beating heart of the film, with Garfield on hand to balance the geekiness with the superhero wisecracking.The villain this time round is Oscorp scientist Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) who gets transformed into the scaly beastie The Lizard. Yes he is powerful and vicious and green-skinned and has a tail, but somehow lacks the sheer villainous of other of Spider-Man’s usual enemies. Rest easy though…the post credits point to a new villain waiting in the wings.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
That being said, The Amazing Spider-Man has its virtues, chief among them its two stars: Andrew Garfield as Peter, the nerd turned crimefighter, and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, the daughter of a police chief (Denis Leary) who can't help being drawn into Peter's web. Garfield, so good in The Social Network and onstage in Death of a Salesman, puts his own stamp on Peter and his drive to solve the mystery of his parents' death. And Stone just jumps to life onscreen. Gwen was played by Stone's The Help costar Bryce Dallas Howard in Spider-Man 3, but her take on the role is distinctly her own. The Amazing Spider-Man delivers in its action and flying scenes as Spidey fights the villain, a.k.a. The Lizard (Rhys Ifans). But that's due diligence. The core of the new movie is the love story. It's no accident that Marc Webb was chosen to direct. Webb is the man behind (500) Days of Summer, the 2009 hit with Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt that is one of the best movie romances of the decade. Webb never loses touch with the film's emotional through line. And he allows time and space for Garfield and Stone, both stellar, to turn a high-flying adventure into something impassioned and moving. A Spider-Man that touches the heart. Now that really is amazing.