Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Every superhero movie (or any movie), needs to do only one thing: Don’t be boring. It doesn’t necessarily need to have balls-to-the-wall action, and it doesn’t matter if it is telling a story that we’ve seen a billion times over; you just have to keep it interesting. For that reason alone, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN goes splat.
After his parents mysteriously vanish, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Despite being a science nerd and wimp, he gains the attention of fellow science-enthusiast Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who also happens to work at the Oscorp Corporation, where Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) is conducting genetic experiments, and may or may not be connected to the Parker family mystery.

The tone of SPIDER-MAN is very grounded and dark. Parker is a boy dealing with abandonment issues, wimp issues, and girl issues. His desire to seek out the truth behind his parents’ disappearance is supposed to be his ultimate motivation, but the emotional connection just never hits home. Even when the tragedy of Uncle Ben occurs, an essential happening in Parker’s life, it feels clumsy and intrusive, and the whole desire to seek out the Parker family secret is left behind (and not answered…evidently saved for a sequel).
A few sparks tend to flare up when Parker and Gwen Stacy begin their teenage romance. The chemistry between Garfield and Stone is very good, and the film is nearly enjoyable when the two of them are on the screen together, even if it is a bit rushed.  Eventually the run-of-the-mill story of Spider-man needs to come back around, and the eventual happenings of The Lizard and Gwen’s police-chief dad (Denis Leary) feel very paint-by-numbers. Again, it’s no great sin for an old story to be re-told, but the dressing needs to make it feel fresh. Here, the dressing is stale and ultimately boring.

Director Marc Webb might as well have been absent during the film’s production, as it is clear that Sony was pulling all the strings here. The battles between Spidey and The Lizard are visually stunning, but they don’t give you anything more than what you would expect from such a fight. The first-person perspective of Spidey as he flies around the city adds nothing to the story and just comes off as a gimmick. All this is backed by a very unremarkable score.
Concerning The Lizard; it’s neat to see the big green lug finally get his due, and the design of the creature works and is cool to look at. However, with so many efforts established to make this SPIDER-MAN a grounded piece, the presence of a man-lizard sticks out like a sore thumb. And Spidey loses his goddamn mask so many times it’s laughable. It’s a studio-decision; they think we’re all too dumb to remember who is under the mask.  

Garfield and Stone really have the bulk of the film on their shoulders and are very good together; good enough that you almost find yourself wishing you weren’t watching them in a SPIDER-MAN film. It doesn’t take long to buy into Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, or Sally Field as Aunt May, even if Ben doesn’t do much other than yell at Peter while May stands around and cries. Rhys Ifans’ villainous turn is about as interesting as a doorknob.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is clearly a studio-influenced production from head to tail, as it has no real artistic quality and doesn’t give a fresh spin on the story. It’s a movie designed only make money off the name, and worst of all, it’s a joyless ride. Spider-man should never be boring.


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