The Amazing Spider-Man

Posted By Brie Austin In Category: Film , Reviews

The Amazing Spider-Man we see a reboot of the Marvel Comics Spider-Man franchise, where the director Marc Webb strives for a more serious and edgy look to distinguish it from its predecessor [that starred Toby McGuire]. To that end, other than Spider-Man and his nemesis (The Lizard), there are no other cartoonish characters in this version — like the former film’s Editor In Chief of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jamison, for example.

The attempt wasn’t unlike the approach Batman Begins (starring Christian Bale) employed to differentiate itself from the earlier more cartoonish versions of Batman (starring Michael Keaton, and later, Val Kilmer and George Clooney).

However, despite some good performances, slight twists in the Spider-Man storyline, and good special effects, there wasn’t anything strong enough in The Amazing Spider-Man to prop up an anemic script that lacked character development, depth and engaging dialogue.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Moreover, it often seemed a bit helter-skelter: little if any evolution of Peter Parker’s perception occured regarding what has happened to him; the relationship between Parker and his love-interest Gwen Stacy seemed to just appear — it was rushed and automatic, making the whole affair seem like an undesired task that the script wanted to just get out of the way.

The story begins with Peter as a boy playing hide-n-seek. He enters his fathers study to find it tossed. When his father enters moments later, he quickly checks to make sure his secret files are safe; then collects them, his wife and son and dashes off to his father’s blue-collar attached home in the Queens borough of New York City. In a short scene, he leaves Peter — and his briefcase — with his father for safe-keeping. Then he and his wife leave, never to be heard from again.

Fast-forward about eight years and Peter is now in high-school. We see him toting his camera, though no storyline ever develops around his photography. In the school yard he tries to intervene on behalf of another nerd being picked on by the school jock/bully and takes a beating, gaining Gwen’s admiration and interest for the effort.

The big mystery about the documents that his dad hid at his fathers, which Peter now finds in the basement in a briefcase — after a water leak forces him and uncle Ben to move everything upstairs –, revolves around an equation regarding cross-species experiments that he and his partner had been working on.

In his quest to learn more about the disappearance of his parents, Peter tracks down his dad’s former lab partner, the one-armed Dr. Curtis Connors, who is working at Ozcorp. Conveniently, Peter’s new love interest Gwen just happens to be Dr. Connors lead intern. Despite heavy security, Peter strolls around following an employee who enters a room with the same symbol outside it that Peter saw on his father’s papers. When the employee leaves, Peter manages to duplicate the complicated password. We’re left to assume his “Spidey senses” helped him achieve this, but its pure conjecture as the scene races by without explanation. Inside, he finds a room full of spiders and webs in some type of process or experiment. Before leaving the premises, yes, he gets bit by a spider that found its way into his shirt.

His transformation happens rather suddenly while he is napping on the subway en-route to home. Unlike the previous Spider-Man story (2002) — that had Peter battling sickness, dizziness, and confusion through the night while his body is transforming metabolically –, the Amazing Spider-Man is awakened from his short train nap fit and able, after a drop of water falls on his forehead startling him. He seems only mildly mystified as to why his hands are sticking to things (most notably a girls top that he accidentally pulls off her). He ends up fighting off her enraged boyfriend and others in a mildly humorous Keystone Cop-ish comedy of errors.

After Peter appears at the home of Dr. Connors to reveal that he is his fathers son, the doctor invites him in and proceeds to explain what he and Peter’s father had worked on years before, cross-species experimentation that they believed could cure human ills. Peter provides the doctor with the equation he retrieved from his dads briefcase, but without disclosing from where it originated.

The doctor believes the equation to be the missing link to the success of his cross-species experiments. Pressured by the henchmen to find a cure for the dying Norman Ozgood (the Green Goblin in the 2002 film), and with the partial success of test rat subjects that grew back missing limbs, he injects himself with the hope that the serum would provide him the ability to regrow the missing lower half of his own arm, and save his career.

He emerges as The Lizard, which Spider-Man has to battle to protect the city.

Andrew Garfield was excellent casting as Peter Parker, delivering a terrific performance as the conflicted and somber high-school nerd turned web-slinging super-hero; the only other bright star was Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, his love interest — who Parker doesn’t just admire from afar in this rendition, but actually connects with.

With the possible exception of Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curtis Connors and the Lizard, the script doesn’t provide anything for the other characters to do; there is no meaningful sub-plots beyond the police captain being Gwen’s father, no interplay or memorable dialogue, or anything for the audience to love, hate, be inspired by, or feel empathy for.

When Spider-Man [starring Toby Mcguire] made its big screen debut in 2002, it was arguably the best super-hero film to date, with several successful sequels to follow, leaving one to wonder what the point of this new recycled version by Marvel is.

With the exception of replacing MJ (the elusive girl Peter pines for, eventually gets the interest of, but ultimately avoids a relationship with to keep her safe in the 2002 film) with Gwen Stacy (a girl who sees him as a love interest from the start, from whom he can’t stay away from in the current film), the absence of the Daily Bugle Editor In Chief, and the addition of the no-nonsense police captain (Denis Leary), there’s nothing of note new here.

It was a mildly entertaining film with good special effects and a few laugh lines. But lets not call it Amazing.

2 1/2 Stars

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About Brie Austin

Co-author of I'd Do It Again, he is a columnist/reporter for a variety of magazines in the areas of music, lifestyle, nightlife, travel and business. He also writes business documents and creates copy for websites.

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