Cinemas in the UK get The Amazing Spider-Man the same date American movie theaters do (July 3), but film critics across the pond have gotten the jump on us as far as the first reviews go. Not that it matters if British (and other) reviewers build the initial buzz on this comic book adaptation. I don't see their reactions being too different from our own. And anyway, it's nice that they get to deliver the first praises on one export, Andrew Garfield (as Spider-Man/Peter Parker), as well as the first notes of disappointment with their other, Rhys Ifans (The Lizard/Curt Connors).
The consensus is that (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb nicely adapts his handle on romantic comedy to the superhero genre, though he doesn't appear to deliver a whole lot of great action or satisfying fight sequences to balance the high school movie elements and very strong chemistry between Garfield and Emma Stone (as Gwen Stacy). But the issues people have with the villains, including both The Lizard and Denis Leary as Stacy's police captain father, sound like lesser problems in a reboot that many are claiming is a worthwhile and surprisingly fresh take.
As usual, I've tried to not only offer another of many aggregated samplings of reviews but a discussion-formatted roundup that provides a complete sense of how critics, both professional and amateur, are responding to the movie. Hopefully it helps you make up your mind about seeing what otherwise merely looks like a rehash of Sam Raimi's previous Spider-Man movies. Especially if you were curious if this installment would make for a good double-feature with Magic Mike, as Robbie Collin makes it sound.
What are people saying about The Amazing Spider-Man? Here's The Conversation heard around the Internet:
An exciting adventure that spins together a great cast and amazing special effects. It doesn’t repeat too much of what we’ve seen before, but adds enough of its own to make it distinguishable and memorable. - Patrick Samuel, Static Mass Emporium
Entering the theatre absolutely sure that another retelling of the origin of Spider-Man was not needed, I gladly ate my words along with my popcorn as this was easily the best way that this story has ever been told [...] I'd go so far as to call it the best superhero origin film this side of Iron Man. - Richard Eisenbeis, Kotaku
It's clear that Webb is more interested in the story's human dimensions [...] the palpable rapport of Garfield and the ever-affable Stone in the pic's home stretch wows far more than the climactic webslinging antics. - Boyd Van Hoij, Variety
As such the web-slinging exploits are often a sideshow, the action boiling down to little more than a series of skirmishes between Spidey and The Lizard. [...] there’s something not quite right with a movie whose grace notes are stronger than its plot points, and whose flashes of soaring brilliance can never quite compensate for its frequent crushing superfluity. - Paul Greenwood, Alone in the Dark
It takes the high school bit of Raimi’s flick, expands it to three acts, then sutures in a scientist/green alter-ego thread [...] The Amazing Spider-Man is a rare comic-book flick that is better at examining relationships than superheroism. - Ian Freer, Empire
The scenes between Garfield and Stone have a witty and realistic edge to them that’s rare for a comic book romance.
Such moments, combined with Peter’s eternal quest for the father he never knew, help carry the narrative through the mandatory denouement of fights, chases, mutant transformations and a rather lengthy final showdown set - Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
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. - Andrew Pulver, The Guardian
Webb gives the Spider-Man story a distinctly light touch: even when Spider-Man and The Lizard are smashing their way through a school, he allows us momentarily to view the scene from the perspective of an oblivious, elderly librarian wearing headphones. We’re never far from romance or laughs, and at times ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ feels like a romcom upgraded to include 3D and industrial cobwebs. - Dave Calhoun, Time Out London
Webb has created the first superhero movie aimed primarily at women. [...] On paper Gwen might be the love interest, but in many ways she’s the main character, giving us a human perspective on the superhuman drama.[...] Raimi’s films were for the teenage boys who used to dress up in Spider-Man pyjamas; Webb’s is for girls whose other halves may soon be dressing up in Spider-Man pyjamas for their benefit. - Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
[Webb] dispenses with much of the character and sass that always made this character fun. It's not Garfield's fault: he is a convincingly troubled, inarticulate Peter Parker, a springily athletic Spider-Man, and has awesome hair. His greatest enemy is the script. That, and the rather wearisome 3D. - Nick Curtis, London Evening Standard
More confident than the last, this Parker is slick on a skateboard and not shy about standing up to Flash Thompson. The geek just got chic: who better to play him than the guy with the algorithms and rhythm from The Social Network? A young buck made testy by grief, a rebel without a comb, Garfield nails all bases here, star DNA aglow. Stare-y eyes melting, he’s winningly earnest; lithe of physique, he delivers in the dust-ups; blithely gatecrashing Gwen Stacy’s bedroom, he gives good dreamboat. - Kevin Harley, Total Film
Andrew Garfield is as perfectly cast as it could get. - Maahin, Blogomatic 3000
I am firm in the belief that Andrew Garfield puts in the finest comic-book movie performance since Heath Ledger’s Joker. - Ian Loring, Eat Sleep Live Film
Even when he’s hunting down villains, he’s still just a teenager, living in the real world, dealing with everyday problems, and the film captures that enduring Spidey spirit perfectly [...] Andrew Garfield is brilliant [...] Emma Stone is possibly even more impressive as Gwen Stacy [...] and as Captain Stacy, Denis Leary (just like his on-screen daughter) magnificently overcomes a part that’s little more than a stock comic trope (as the gruff sceptic who thinks Spidey is a public menace, he’s basically J Jonah Jameson with a badge). - Dave Golder, SFX
For those of us cursed with a memory, there’s an awful lot of deja vu [...] A particular disappointment is former comedian Denis Leary as the police chief who’s the leading lady’s dad; he’s nowhere near as entertaining a human opponent to Parker as J. K. Simmons’s irascible newspaper editor was in the original. - Chris Tookey, Daily Mail
The Lizard is another of the films issues, the CGI looks, well like CGI and never once does The Lizard actually look part. It’s especially ropey when The Lizard starts to talk, you can’t help but shake the fact that he looks almost identical to a Goombar from the Bob Hoskins “Super Mario Bros”. Rhys Ifans does his best with the voice acting but the overall effect feels rush and even cheap in parts. - Kobie, Down with Film
Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.