Published June 29, 2012
“The Amazing Spider-Man” would be amazing if we didn’t just see it a few years ago.
Spider-Man swings back into theaters after a hiatus not much longer than an outdoor cigarette break on a sweltering summer’s day.
Do we really need a Spider-Man reboot? No. Does it add anything to what’s already been established? Not really.
What’s worrisome about “The Amazing Spider-Man” is that it’s not a badly made film. It just suffers from been-there-done-that-itis. And in a post-“Avengers” arena, “The Amazing Spider-Man” has very little that’s new to offer. At one moment during the film, Peter Parker’s high school teacher says it is not true that there are many stories throughout literature, history, etc. There is really only one story. Thanks for reminding us, teacher, while we’re watching a superhero origin story we’ve seen countless times before.
What is amazing about this reboot is Andrew Garfield. He is a class act and gives Peter Parker a well of talent to pull from that was missing in the original series. Garfield uses his quirky acting to his advantage. From the start his Parker is vulnerable and completely likeable. When he becomes Spider-Man he adopts the cockiness of the original character from the comics. Like Iron Man, he’s a superhero with a sardonic wit.
Garfield makes it easy to believe that a young high school student is miraculously – and tragically – transformed into a hybrid species that fights crime on the New York City streets. This Spider-Man is a more natural superhero.
Complimenting Garfield is the incredible Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Like Garfield, Stone leads a generation of young, new actors with depth and talent. She is everything Kirsten Dunst was not in the original – funny, charming and heroic.
Denis Leary and Rhys Ifans are an excellent addition to the cast. The banter between Leary and Garfield is fresh and funny as their arguments range from crime to dating Gwen, Stacy’s daughter. Ifans is enjoyable as Dr. Connors, Parker’s pseudo-mentor and mad scientist who unfortunately transforms into the giant CGI Lizard that wrecks havoc on the city.
Sally Field and Martin Sheen are Parker’s Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Ben’s wisdom isn’t as effective in this “Spider-Man” as it was in the original Sam Raimi version. Sheen rambles out wise words in a yadda, yadda, yadda-whatever fashion that doesn’t quite strike the heart like Cliff Robertson’s Uncle Ben did previously.
On a technical level, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is far superior to its predecessors. The effects are improved and Spider-Man is able to do some really cool superhero tricks like using his webbing to silence his prey or swing from cranes down Manhattan’s 6th Avenue. One standout scene has Parker really acting like a spider by spinning a giant web in the New York City sewers and waiting for The Lizard to strike a chord so that he can pounce.
This “Spider-Man,” for the most part, feels more realistic than the cheesy, cartoonish Raimi version. The cinematography and music are darker, yet never dip into grittiness. It’s actually a very pretty, glossy film to watch and listen to, especially on IMAX.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” strictly follows the same formula of the original, which makes this film teeter on becoming a bore but it’s Garfield’s and Stone’s chemistry that keeps this web from withering.