Reviewed by Ian Forbes, Sobering Conclusion
It’s been 5 years since Spider-Man 3 stunk up movie theaters worldwide. That’s a fairly decent amount of time (in Hollywood years) before a franchise gets rebooted. Still, I’ve yet to find one person who sees the need for it in this case; though I haven’t polled Sony stockholders so there have to be some people who can’t wait to see this make a tidy profit this summer.
Going into the theater, I was cautiously optimistic. Marc Webb did a great job helming (500) Days of Summer, the cast is a better fit on paper for the roles (especially with Kirsten Dunst out of the way), and CGI always gets better over time.
All of those statements are factually true with The Amazing Spider-Man. None of it changes the fact that while general audiences will find it lives up to the Mendoza line of summer entertainment, the more hardcore fans will find themselves scratching their heads … or in my case, wanting to pull out my hair for basically the last half of the TWO HOUR & FIFTEEN MINUTES this will run before mercifully letting people out of the theater.
Where to start? … Spider-Man’s probably a good place. Andrew Garfield is a talented actor and fit the wise-cracking superhero side of the webslinger just fine. His Peter Parker needs a lot of work, however, and came off far more of a social pariah than a classic nerd. In that department, Tobey Maguire has him beat hands down and it’s a struggle to watch Garfield essentially mimic Hayden Christensen circa Jumper whenever he’s not in red tights. (And we’re not going to start my rant on the number of people who discover the SECRET alter ego of Spider-Man in the course of a few days.)
Then there’s Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Sure, Martin Sheen is great; It’s Martin Sheen after all. But Sally Field? If Peter Parker were a mentally challenged Southerner with aspirations of captaining a shrimp boat, this casting would make sense. Last time I checked, he’s not. And don’t get me started on the rationale for adding the mystery of Parker’s parents as a means to steer him towards meeting Dr. Curt Connors (aka The Lizard … NOT a spoiler). Seeing as this plot thread only marginally factors into garbled dialogue during an extra scene in the credits, it could have been dropped entirely, shortened the runtime, and no one but the screenwriter(s) who wrongly thought it was a good idea would have noticed.
Then there’s the issue of The Lizard himself. The whole point of the character was to show this well-meaning scientist battling with the animal underneath. Here, the struggle is quickly given up in order to push forward with some cockamamie notion of biological warfare, only to revert back to the more dynamic and dramatic man vs. beast-within notion … all with a schizophrenic slant not evident in the comics or the character prior to the genetic changes.
As for the 3D, you can forget about it. I’ll concede that in the theater where I saw the movie screened, their 3D is not great. However, I didn’t put my special glasses on for THIRTY minutes and was only bothered by a few blurry objects and the occasionally blurry human. Putting them on was more a matter of being tired of holding the stupid plastic shades than acknowledging anything was in the third dimension. Some of the swinging and fighting scenes benefit from the technology but that’s hardly worth the extra money.
With all of that glowing praise, how much do I not want to see this movie again? I’d rather go BUY a ticket for “Magic Mike” than see this for free while getting a back rub from a Victoria’s Secret model. The title is a lie, there’s very little that’s “amazing” about The Amazing Spider-Man and simply by understanding how to tell a linear story, getting some key points right, and not including Kirsten Dunst, this doesn’t get the full brunt of the anger I felt as the credits rolled. Personally, I’d drop the grade a little more (just thinking about a ridiculous scene of construction workers tilting cranes to help Spidey make it to the final battleground gets my blood boiling) but as I was in the clear minority of people who didn’t at least find it entertaining, I’ll chalk this one up to being too close to the source material. In the world of cinematic adaptations, that’s usually more of a curse than a gift and that’s definitely the case here.
The Amazing Spider-Man hits theaters on July 3, 2012 and is rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence.