Not quite amazing…BUT
There’s a new Spider-Man in town, but unless you’ve been held captive in a cave like a certain other ironclad Marvel superhero you’ll have seen at least one if not all three of the Spidey films directed by Sam Raimi. The question everyone will ask is, why do we need this one? The cynic will say corporate greed is the only possible answer. Still, both the “Batman” and “Star Trek” films were re-booted to both critical and commercial acclaim. Why not the friendly neighborhood web-slinger?
While “The Amazing Spider-Man” is not a bad piece of moviemaking, it remains unclear why this film was required other than to demonstrate the significant improvements in CGI technology since the first Raimi installment 10 years ago. And this version, especially in 3D, is a wonder to look at.
But the previous Spider-Man films cast a large shadow over the proceedings, and while there are some different storylines, the origin story, which makes up the first half of the film, feels a lot like deja-vu.
Some will like the casting of Andrew Garfield as the affable Peter Parker, who gets on his inner-arachnid after being bitten by a test lab specimen. He’s a wiry skateboarder and taller than Tobey Maguire, but he lacks the latter’s boyish charm. Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy, the police Captain’s (played by Dennis Leary) daughter who’s cute and convincing as ever, and the film features plenty of the two in sincere relationship building. There’s chemistry there for sure, but that was never a problem in previous iterations.
The villain is Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a mad scientist of sorts who was once a partner of Peter’s father. Wanting to regenerate growth in an amputated limb, Connors is part of a research team hoping to find the perfect algorithm for cross species genetics mixing – until some lizard formula he self-injects goes awry.
There are enough differences in plot that this film can’t be seen as a retread, and director Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”) has taken full advantage of current technology. Witness the vertigo-inducing NYC skyscraper sequences and tons of Spidey POV shots that are occasionally downright thrilling.
Along for the ride are veterans Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, who are always reliable but don’t really eclipse any previous interpretations of their characters.
And there’s the rub. “The Amazing Spider-Man” is a decent movie by any measurement, even with its flaws. (It could’ve used more humor, for example.) But it can’t avoid being compared to the previous films, and by that standard it isn’t a game changer. Webb shows considerable promise however, and it’s possible that the second installment could strike sequel gold in the same way as the previous trilogy.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence.