Captain Obvious' Review: The Amazing Spider-Man
Spidey has returned to the big screen and everybody is on their way to see it. Does this reboot of Marvel's most popular character have legs? Or does it get tangled in its own web? Stop reading the puns and hit the jump for my take on our favorite wall crawler. [POSSIBLE MINOR SPOILERS]
Ever since Sony pulled the plug on Spider-Man 4, all eyes have been on the reboot of Marvel's most iconic character. Does the film deliver? Sort of.
At a young age, Peter Parker was abandoned by his parents and left in the care of his aunt and uncle. Years later, Peter discovers his father's briefcase which leads him to Oscorp. There, he meets hid father's old partner Dr. Conners and is bitten by a radioactive spider. As Peter grapples with his new found powers, Connors transforms into the Lizard in an attempt to regrow his lost arm. Soon, Peter and Conners are put on a collision course in which their alter-egos, Spider-Man and the Lizard, clash.
This movie is coming off 5 years after Spider-Man 3. While just about everyone has expressed their disappointment with that film, the first two are highly revered and helped kick-start the onslaught of superhero movies. So naturally, this film not only has to live up to that legacy, but it also must find a way to stand on its own. That't quite a huge problem considering that almost every character and plot beat is identical to Sam Raimi's 2002 film. Peter is a loner who is bullied. Peter tries to get close to his crush. Peter is bitten by a spider. Peter experiments with his powers in a comedic fashion. Uncle Ben is murdered. Peter becomes Spider-Man. Ambitious scientist wants to improve humanity. Said scientist experiemnts on himself and becomes villain. Villain believes he is helping people when he is really endangering people. Hero and villain must fight.
While the film has plenty of similarities, there are new and promising faces. Andrew Garfield takes over the role of the wall crawler and shows that he was borns for this role. While I still like Tobey Maguire, it's clear that Garfield poured his heart and soul into this role. Playing a much more tortured, yet resiliant Parker. I was never worried about his casting and neither should you.
One improvement over Raimi's films is how the love interests are handled. Gwen Stacy is certainly no damsel in distress who needs to be saved every 20 minutes. Emma Stone portays her as independent, smart, and not some prize for the hero. Not to mention that Garfield and Stone have great chemistry and the best parts of the movie are when these two are together. It's no surprise that the actors formed a relationship behind the scenes.
As for the supporting cast, Martin Sheen and Sally Field are suitable for the roles of Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Denis Leary gets some of the best lines in the film as Captain Stacy. Rhys Ifans, despite given recycled villain material from previous Spidey films, does a competent job as Dr. Connors. The only forgettable performance is Irrfan Khan, who plays a shady corporate figure at Oscorp.
However, outside of the spectacular casting and well-written characters, the film doesn't have much going for it. As pointed out before, the film is too familiar to what we saw 10 years ago. The scripts over-reliance on similarities makes it too predictable, leaving no surprises and offers nothing we haven't seen in a Spider-Man film, let alone a superhero film, before. Even if Raimi's trilogy didn't exist, the script would still fall flat because nothing is properly developed.
The film has been marketed as "the untold story" which happens to involve the mystery surrounding Peter's parents. The film focuses on it for some of the first act, then completely abandons it after Uncle Ben dies only for it to be brought again in a mid-credits scene, which has the worst sequel baiting since Green Lantern. If the movie doesn't care much about the Peter's parents, then why should the audience care? I'm not even going to get into a few plot holes that are so big, Spider-Man could swing through them.
My biggest concern with this movie was the director Marc Webb. I loved his debut feature (500) Days of Summer and knew he could deliver on character. But could he deliver on spectacle? Sadly, not quite. While there is impressive imagery to be found (the shot of Spidey swinging in front of the moon is pretty awesome), Webb isn't experienced enough to direct large scale actions sequences that Raimi was able to pulled off with ease. Not only does action lack awe, they are all poorly strung together. Most just come and go and nobody talks about them for the rest of the film. The fight between Spidey and Lizard in the school comes out of nowhere and has no impact on the plot.
It doesn't help that some of the CGI is less than stellar, particulary the goofy Lizard design, which people chuckled at in the theater. Finally, the film brings up many mysteries, but never resolves them. It's like watching a Spider-Man version of Prometheus.
The bottom line is The Amazing Spider-Man has great characters and interactions along with stunning imagery, but it's difficult to forgive the similarities to Sam Raimi's first Spidey flick, the near-soulless set pieces, and a downright sloppy screenplay. Whether or not this reboot needs to exist is debatable. But if you're tired of The Avengers and want to pass the time to The Dark Knight Rises, than it's worth checking out. Just don't expect to be amazed.
*If you miss the mid credits scene, don't worry. There's nothing worth seeing anyway.
Final Score: 7 of out 10.
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