The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

at Amazon

Pros: Good special effects and some action

Cons: Very weak writing with various missteps

High School student Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) sneaks onto a science fair with hopes of meeting Dr. Curt Connors (Ryhs Ifans). He eventually breaks away from his group and begins snooping around until he comes into a lab filled with genetically altered spiders. He’s eventually bitten by one of them, and later learns that he has some how developed spider-like abilities. -summary

While many folks will credit Bryan Singer’s X-Men film (2000) as the actual film to jump start the superhero craze we now see today; I always saw Sam Raimi, whom brought the wall crawler to the big screen in 2002 as the true driving force behind it, and his first sequel Spider-Man 2 pretty much cemented this for me. Although the first two movies were very good and enjoyed great success, it was actually Sam Raimi’s second sequel Spider-Man 3 that pretty much sunk the franchise despite its success, and due to this Spider-Man 4 was scrapped. This lead to The Amazing Spider-Man directed by Marc Webb, which happens to be a complete reboot of the franchise. I’m among the group that felt starting from scratch was totally unnecessary because Raimi already laid out the ground work, and I felt no one else could have possibly pulled it off better. Webb did a damn good job proving me right with this lackluster effort. I found this film worse than Spider-Man 3; it’s so shallow, predictable, with some miserable characterization.

The only things about this film I enjoyed were the special effects and action; the CGI did a well enough job capturing Spider-Man’s lightening quick reflexes and movements. There were plenty of fun moments watching Parker learn how to use his athletic abilities, and the battles against the Lizard had its moments. For the most part, I think the fights delivered on the fisticuffs. If I have an issue with the fights then it lies in the lack of drama. There was a complete lack of urgency; they were all flash and didn’t really tell a good story. Comic fans will already know the reason why Spider-Man can’t always go toe to toe with the Lizard, but non fans will only believe the Lizard is that more powerful, when the truth is that they’re nearly equal in strength. Webb simply did a poor job at storytelling here.

I liked the designs for both characters though. Spider-Man felt like a cross between Spider-Man 2099 and the Scarlet Spider. While the Lizard had a half man, half reptile appearance and resembled the Dan Slott version of the character who’s very large and overly aggressive.

Had the action not delivered on some level I would totally hate this movie, and my aggravation is aimed directly towards the characterization. I get that this is a reimaging but there was too much altering of the source material. Peter Parker was brilliant enough to create his web shooters and webbing formula, yet he’s clumsy on an unbelievable level. He seemed too careless with his secret identity, by easily revealing it and removing his mask for no reason. It may seem like nitpicking but this is a character with 50 years of history behind him, and there’s just some things that really shouldn’t be tinkered with. On top of this, his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) couldn’t have felt anymore staged. The Lizard felt so 1963 with his mad scientist motivation; if you never read the comic then please take my word for it. He is not that one-dimensional. In addition, I couldn’t get into the plot at any point, which mainly followed Spider-Man trying to learn who the Lizard is and stop him. The plot was littered with unnecessary romance and interactions, and should have focused more on Spider-Man’s smarts.

It’s always nice to see these characters hit the big screen, and see material borrowed from Ultimate Marvel and Marvel 616; but solid acting and special effects aside, this movie is the reason I didn’t bother to see the recent sequel in theatres, and those who know me claim I made the right decision waiting for the DVD or Blu-Ray. I didn’t care for it much; however, I would still recommend it to fans of the character and the earlier movies. Plus the kids seem to love this movie a lot. The violence is pretty much on the tame side with nothing I would say to the be offensive. It’s definitely a family movie and that’s usually a good thing.

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