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The Amazing Spider-Man is solid, yet unnecessary

The Amazing Spider-Man - Theater Review
Release Date: 7/3/2012 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 3 Clacks

'The Amazing Spider-Man' is a complete reboot of the successful Sony franchise. If you are interested in seeing a very similar story play out with better performances, this is your flick.

For the last decade, Sony has produced a three-picture Spider-Man franchise that made the studio hundreds of millions of dollars. As we enter the 2010’s, executives decided to reboot the franchise, setting aside stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst as well as director Sam Raimi in an attempt to take the franchise – and the superhero – younger. The Amazing Spider-Man kicks off with the origin story – with several tweaks – that audiences are familiar with; and thus might be a little bored with.

Chances are you know the broad strokes of the story. Andrew Garfield plays Peter Parker, doing a much better job of capturing the essence of the character than Maguire ever did. Emma Stone replaces Dunst as the lead’s love interest, as the story shifts the character back to Gwen Stacy – more accurate to the storylines of the comics. Martin Sheen and Sally Field do an admirable job taking over as Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Rhys Ifans is Curt Connors/The Lizard, an antagonist I couldn’t get behind at all.

My biggest problem with The Amazing Spider-Man was that I enjoyed nearly everything but the story. There’s no way that anyone can spin this flick that makes me believe it was necessary to do another origin story. I spent the entire first half of the movie listening to kids asking their mommies where Spider-Man was. I found it difficult to argue with them – though I did wish said mommies would have kept their kids quiet. There were differences between this and Raimi’s version to be sure, but not enough to feel like I was watching something new. I know it would have been weird, but I would have much rather the film crafted a story not unlike Superman Returns, jumping back into the story at an undefined point.

My “enjoyed nearly everything else” referred to The Lizard. There was little about the character I liked. The CGI – especially of the fully formed Lizard – was rough. The new backstory between Connors and Peter’s father felt forced and manufactured. I never really believed his final turn to evil … nothing about the character worked for me.

I hate that those two things impacted the film so much for me, because Garfield was nearly perfect as our friendly neighborhood webslinger. I also found Stone completely adorable as Gwen Stacy. The two leads had better chemistry than Maguire and Dunst had in their films respectively. Dennis Leary was also very good as Gwen’s police captain father, who had a wonderful dynamic with both Peter Parker and Spider-Man.

At the end of the day, I’m pleased with what The Amazing Spider-Man created; a new universe to expand upon, and the ability to bring in familiar characters – Norman Osborn’s name was mentioned several times – in future installments. I’m also looking forward to where Garfield and Stone are going to take their characters and their relationship. I just wish I didn’t have to sit through this story to see what happens next.

*Editor’s note: As with nearly all Marvel superhero movies, everyone wants to know if there is something to sit through the credits for. The answer is yes, although you don’t have to wait all the way to the end.


Photo Credit: Sony

3 Responses to “The Amazing Spider-Man is solid, yet unnecessary”

July 3, 2012 at 4:05 AM

I haven’t seen it yet, but I would argue against a Superman Returns type of continuation. The Rami series is over. We don’t need a continuation of that just later in the future. Spider-man needed a reboot. Sony doesn’t want to lose the IP so they had to make a film. I would have argued that Spider-man’s origins is something that doesn’t need to be put to film again, especially if the writers have nothing new to add. The Lizard and Spidey’s parentage are old stories that can stand on their own, and really don’t need to be a part of an origin story. I would argue that the new Ultimate Spider-man series did one thing right by setting itself one year after Spidey’s origin. I still argue, Spider-man 3 should have been Lizard rather then Venom, since the Lizard had 2 movies of build up by that time, and Venom is really a Left-Field type of villain. However, I just get the feeling that this is them wanting to give that classic Lizard story based from the build-up of the previous trilogy without any of the work. I actually have high-hopes with this movie having a really good portrayal of Spider-man, but it really looks like the plot and overall story is going to be weak.

July 3, 2012 at 2:38 PM

I agree with Ivey that the origin story does not need to be retold again. It seems like an hour before we finally advance from that set-up and it’s tedious for anyone who already knows how Peter got his powers (even if it is tweaked a bit, it still involves a spider bite). I wasn’t happy with The Lizard at all. Something about the look of it was just off. I think the real reason for a complete reboot was not to introduce The Lizard, but to bring Norman Osbourne back to life to set-up Green Goblin’s return. Picking up the series after the Raimi trilogy (or at least after the second film) would have made that plot development impossible. And based on the credits teaser, I’m pretty sure we will be seeing Osbourne in the next movie. The biggest change they need to make is to lighten it up. Spidey is known for his wisecracks and he rarely gets to show any sense of humor, save for the scenes with Gwen (and Garfield and Stone have excellent chemistry, so at least that’s one thing they got right). There are other plot points that come and go and never seem to be resolved or make no sense, so that’s an issue as well. The studio needs to let the writers do their thing and stop giving them notes on how to “make it better” (see Spider-Man III). It’s not awful, and it has glimmers of good stuff, but it could have and should have been a lot better.

July 3, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Like I said, we did not need an origin story. The Rami series pushed Spider-man so fast that they ran out of problems for him to have. We went from High School to out of College in the blink of an eye. The reason for the reboot is to allow the writers to be freed from what took place in Rami’s series. Movies based on Comic Books have changed a lot since the first Spider-man. Those old movies would take the property and write it’s stories into a more conventional film format. It was a clean and clear-cut, but left everything in the universe very flat and 2-dimentional. Since, more comic book movies have left drawing inspiration from the comic book stories, and more on telling the best stories from the print. Most of the current Marvel Universe is like this, and the Nolan saga is really taking story elements from 5 or more different batman comics and then combining them into epics. Comparing Rami to these modern series is brutal. The series needed a reboot. The Osborns’ is one of Spidey’s best villains and character falls. One of the other great dynamics is the Lizard. But like I said, part of what makes him tragic and effective is that we get to know him before his fall. It had proper setup in the Rami series, but we were left hanging. In this new series, his fall is weaker because he won’t have the setup. Yes, everyone was aching for seeing the Lizard, but not in a reboot. To sum up, Sony would lose the franchise if a movie wasn’t made. A reboot and origin story is the simplest way to start. The reboot was necessary, the origin story is not. They try to capitalize on the Lizard build up from Rami, by giving the story that was wanted, but it won’t be a satisfying fall. If you have to do an Origin, Spider-man has a large rogues gallery that could easily fit into a genetic mutation story base including Rhino and Scorpion. They are easy villains that could be played off an origin story. Use that as a setup to the lizard, and Green Goblin. Never let them die, have them foiled so that it doesn’t seem like the universe only has 3 stories to tell.

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