Favorite

Spider bites: The Amazing Spider-Man 

The Amazing Spider-Man (PG-13)

I'm sure people will argue that The Amazing Spider-Man should be evaluated on its own merits, as a work separate from the legacy of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films over the last decade. And I respectfully ask — after I catch my breath from the hysterical laughter — "You're joking, right?"

Leave aside for a moment the cynical reality that Sony had to make this movie sooner rather than later, in order to preserve its rights to the character after Disney's deal to buy Marvel Comics. The fact remains that we are not even a generation removed from one of the great pop-culture one-two punches in blockbuster history (I'm pretending that Spider-Man 3 never happened). We saw what a pretty-close-to-perfect Spider-Man movie looks like. We know that it's possible. And because we know these things, how is it possible to look at The Amazing Spider-Man and not recognize how much it lacks?

In the first place, it was borderline nuts to start all over with another origin of the character. Nerdy high school student Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) once again is bitten by a mutant spider that bestows upon him strength, agility and the ability to climb up walls; once again, he learns the importance of taking responsibility when his self-absorption indirectly results in the death of his beloved Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen).

Other details get a tweaking: a return to the comic books' mechanical web shooters created by Peter; details about secret research work by Peter's father (Campbell Scott) that may have led to his death; Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) taking over the romantic interest role; Aunt May (Sally Field) having far too little gray hair.

But it's not about the details, however many of them seem like minor improvements versus minor steps backward. It's about the big things, like the casting of your hero. Garfield never once feels remotely right as Peter Parker, whose evolution — from bully-bait, to cocky bully himself, to hero who views his powers as bearing a burden — defines the character.

He simply seems lost most of the time, unable to convey the way Tobey Maguire could the exuberance of discovering his powers or the naked adoration for his lady love that could be his undoing. While Stone's characteristic charms make her a welcome addition, she's playing a relationship with one confused partner.

In both Garfield and Stone's defense, that's probably because The Amazing Spider-Man feels as though its three credited editors were working on separate movies without talking to one another. Chunks of crucial exposition appear to be missing, providing no true anchor to the relationships and no natural build-up to the big action sequences.

Good film performances are often found in the editing room as much as they're found on camera, and there are precious few moments here when director Marc Webb allows his performances to breathe long enough for any emotional connections to develop. The one notable exception — a lovely scene in which Peter struggles with whether or not to tell Gwen his secret — only serves to emphasize how miserably the rest of the film fails in the same regard.

The greatest concern of many fanboys coming into Amazing Spider-Man was that Webb was a director whose only previous feature, 2009's charming (500) Days of Summer, provided no indication that he could handle large-scale action sequences. Surprisingly, that's one of the few things the film actually gets right, providing a few nifty battles between Spider-Man and his nemesis, a scientist named Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), whose experimental serum transforms him into The Lizard.

But however memorable Raimi's battle scenes may have been, his Spider-Man movies weren't brilliant because of what they achieved technically. They were case studies in perfect tone: understanding how to give a story full of digital effects a huge human heart and an understanding of something being at stake for its characters.

By the time The Amazing Spider-Man reaches its excruciating final line of dialogue — one that suggests Peter has learned absolutely nothing and renders all that has gone before, a consequence-free trifle — it's clear that nobody here really grasped why those Raimi Spider-Man tales were great. They gave you something that stuck with you, not something the studio is hoping you've forgotten by the time they decide to make another one.

scene@csindy.com

Film Details

The Amazing Spider-Man
Rated PG-13 · 136 min. · 2012
Official Site: www.theamazingspiderman.com/site
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Steve Ditko, Stan Lee and James Vanderbilt
Producer: Avi Arad, Todd Black and Grant Curtis
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen and Sally Field
The Amazing Spider-Man: The IMAX Experience
Rated PG-13 · 136 min. · 2012
Official Site: www.theamazingspiderman.com/site
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Steve Ditko, Stan Lee and James Vanderbilt
Producer: Avi Arad, Todd Black and Grant Curtis
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen and Sally Field
The Amazing Spider-Man 3D
Rated PG-13 · 136 min. · 2012
Official Site: www.theamazingspiderman.com/site
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Steve Ditko, Stan Lee and James Vanderbilt
Producer: Avi Arad, Todd Black and Grant Curtis
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen and Sally Field
The Amazing Spider-Man in IMAX 3D
Rated PG-13 · 136 min. · 2012
Official Site: www.theamazingspiderman.com/site
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Steve Ditko, Stan Lee and James Vanderbilt
Producer: Avi Arad, Todd Black and Grant Curtis
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen and Sally Field

Trailer


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for The Amazing Spider-Man

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Reviews

Readers also liked…

  • Childhood lost

    Trade of Innocents producer Laurie Bolthouse on sex trafficking and the 'weight of silence'
    • Mar 4, 2015

Popular Events

  • HPCUU Movie Screening @ High Plains Unitarian Universalist Church

    • Sat., Sept. 24, 5-8 p.m. Free
  • Now is the Time: Healthcare for Everyone @ Library 21c

    • Wed., Sept. 28, 7-8:30 p.m.
  • Movie Night at Rooted @ Rooted Studio

  • Apparition Hill @ Stargazers

    • Wed., Sept. 28, 7 p.m. $10
  • Reel Rock Film Tour @ Kathryn Mohrman Theatre in CC's Armstrong Hall

    • Wed., Sept. 28, 7 p.m. $18
    • Buy Tickets

More by Scott Renshaw

All content © Copyright 2016, The Colorado Springs Independent   |   Website powered by Foundation