‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ Review

Posted: July 7, 2012 in Movies

When Sony announced nearly a year and a half ago that they would be rebooting the Spider-Man franchise after just four years after Spider-Man 3, and the disaster that it was, my first reaction was “NOOOO!” Then I took a deep breath and waited for casting announcements.  Once it was confirmed that Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)  was going to be playing Peter Parker/Spider-Man this reboot was instantly put on my “must watch” list.

Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man takes the story Sam Raimi told 10 years ago and basically rehashes it using a different villain and a different love interest but the same emotional story-telling.  The first hour of the film is spent with Andrew Garfield doing his best teen-angst impression (even though the actor is really 28 years old playing an 18 year old) and everyone else over-acting their parts.  There is a bunch of cliche sections in the film that will seriously test your eye-roll meter but once you get into the film’s second act things start to seriously pick up and it’s there that the film really gets good.

The jest of the movie is Peter Parker’s parents, who are involved in some questionable top-secret scientific studies, drop him off at his Uncle Ben’s and Aunt Mae’s house only to disappear out of his life forever.  After growing up in their house Parker discovers just what his parents were involved with in the notorious Oscorp owned by Norman Osbourne (who we never see but are told frequently he is very sick and might die if a certain serum isn’t concocted by Dr. Curt Connors.  It’s Connors who attracts Parker’s attention after Peter learns that Connors and his father, Richard Parker, were working together on cross-species integration before his parents disappeared.  Long story short, Connors is only worried about himself and regenerating the arm he lost in an unknown way.  Therefore Connor takes the cross-species serum that he concocted causing adverse effects, turning him into The Lizard, and terrorizing New York City in his attempt to turn everyone into a lizard just like himself.  The only one who can stop Connors is Spider-Man.  You already know how Parker gets his powers, and you already know why he takes it upon himself to fight crime, but it’s Gwen Stacey’s inclusion in this reboot that really makes it worth watching.  Stacey (Emma Stone) really glows as Parker’s love interest in a way that Kirsten Dunst never could as Mary-Jane Watson in Raimi’s Spider-Man series.  Stone has a way with how she looks at Garfield that makes you instantly fall in love with her and really care about Stacey in the movie.  She’s never really put in harm’s way like Watson was in nearly every film that Raimi directed but Marc Webb realizes that that was probably the weakest part of Raimi’s films.  You never want the love interest in your film to drag the movie down.  Emma Stone knows her character is but merely a stepping stone to the next film in the franchise and she acts it with charisma and grace.  She really is the perfect actress for the part.

Garfield is also the perfect choice (even though he is a bit old) for Parker in Marc Webb’s Spider-Man universe.  It’s a place where Parker is not the dorky outcast but just an intelligent loner who happens to fall for a girl.  Garfield’s Parker is a nerdy picture taking skateboarder who is really a home body.  By just looking at Andrew Garfield you can instantly relate to him as Peter Parker.  He’s an incredible actor as well showing real emotion in his scenes where tears were called for and really embodies the awkward moments with Emma Stone.  Remember watching Raimi’s Spider-Man films and seeing Tobey Macquire cry and tear up?  Remember it looking incredibly forced and out of place?  Yep, none of that here.

There are a few things in the film that really bugged me like the musical score whenever The Lizard was on screen.  There was one instance where The Lizard is in the Oscorp laboratories looking for a rocket launching device and Gwen Stacey is hiding in a closet and every time The Lizard would get closer to Stacey’s closet there would be this weird high-pitched piano accompaniment.  It felt incredibly out of place and ill timed.

The other thing I didn’t like was the use of the first-person view while Spider-Man is swinging through the city.  That view is fine and dandy in video games but it really doesn’t serve a purpose in a super-hero film.  Marc Webb also doesn’t know when to cut action scenes, one particular sequence where a bunch of construction workers line up high rise cranes for an injured Spider-Man to swing to the Oscorp building just dragged and dragged.

However, the positives in the film far out weigh the negatives and Webb has quite successfully washed the terrible taste of Spider-Man 3 out of mouths.  Garfield and Stone carry the film and allow the action to take a back seat all the while setting up a sequel rather nicely.

STARS – 3.5 (out of 5)

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