The Amazing Spider-Man.
Living with his aunt and uncle for years after his parents disappeared, nerdy teenager Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has long struggled with who he is and what he should be as he grows up. One day in search of answers about his father, Peter stumbles across some of his paperwork, some of it about cross-breeding DNA brands. He follows the information and meets Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's old partner. It is at Connors' office that Peter is bit on the neck by a genetically mutated spider, and almost immediately he feels the effects. With a power that he can at first barely harness, much less believe, Peter becomes Spiderman. But as his name becomes known, some look to him as a hero, other as a cowardly masked vigilante.
I'll get part of this rant out early. A line in the recent 21 Jump Street rings truer and truer with each new movie. It goes "The people behind this lack creativity and they've run out of ideas, so
what they do now is just recycle shit from the past and hope that nobody
will notice." Yes, I realize that fans go out to see these movies, but seriously. Is there no original idea at all out there? We're already doing a reboot of a franchise that was started exactly 10 years ago. From director Marc Webb, 'Amazing' tweaks the Spiderman universe back toward the more accurate, but is that enough reasoning to justify starting a franchise over again? We JUST saw Spiderman in 2002 explain how Peter becomes the superhero.Strike while the iron is hot I suppose, but still. Originality is so overrated anyways I suppose.
Onto the actual movie though. The rant wouldn't have been as severe if this movie wasn't....well....dull. With a movie that runs 136 minutes, I was bored and bored quickly. The origin story of a superhero is fine. Seeing that character background is almost always interesting. But here? I never felt like I was brought into the movie. The story has the been-there, done-that quality which is unfortunate because in quick snippets, little glimpses in certain scenes, there is energy and potential for an interesting, worthwhile story. Instead we get a teen angst riddled Peter struggling with being a teenager like something out of an after school special. There are no truly memorable set pieces, nothing that stands out from the rest, and the lack of a great villain certainly handicaps the story even if Ifans is a big positive in the cast. A little on the side, 'Amazing' could have been more memorable with just a little energy.
Through four movies -- three with Maguire and one with Garfield -- I think a key issue is casting Spiderman. What's so hard about it? Christian Bale is an ideal Batman. Robert Downey Jr. the same for Iron Man. Why not Spiderman? Is it the teen aspect? A 28-year old, Garfield certainly looks the part of a somewhat nerdy but highly intelligent high school student. As an actor though, I wasn't impressed. Yes, he's Spiderman. He's cool, but I wasn't interested in the character at all. Garfield uses a series of awkward glances, twitches and flinching to develop(?) the character of Spiderman. Making it worse, when he becomes the superhero, he becomes cocky and spits out one-liners left and right, making a dull character tough to watch on-screen. He is a better choice than Maguire was (just never seemed like an ideal choice), but if there's little interest in the story or him, that's kind of a major problem.
Not surprisingly, some of the supporting parts help make the slow-moving story worthwhile at different points. I'm noticing that more and more in certain superhero movies. Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy, the smart, beautiful and funny teenager that just about every high school boy dreams of dating. Ifans is the best supporting part as Dr. Connors who eventually turns into the Lizard after a specimen reacts in an unforeseen way. A villain who's motives are pure, but how he intends to do it ends up vilifying him. Denis Leary too has some fun as Capt. Stacy, a NYPD officer and Gwen's father who butts heads with Peter. Martin Sheen and Sally Field are underused but make the most of their screentime as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, Peter's long-time guardians who've looked after him since his parents disappeared years earlier.
As 'Amazing' nears the two-hour mark, it is saved to a point by the finale; Spiderman trying to prevent the Lizard's means of creating a 'super race' of men by unleashing a toxin all over New York City. The action up to that point felt repetitious to me, but this final showdown has that energy that so much of the rest of the movie was missing. There's also a small but solid part for C. Thomas Howell in the finale, a link to an earlier scene when he meets Spiderman. As a moderate fan of the original Spiderman movies, I didn't have high expectations for this 2012 reboot. Still, I came away empty. It's not an awful movie, but it never rises above even average unfortunately.
The Amazing Spider Man <---trailer (2012): **/****